A trio of Royal Jubilees: The Queen’s Silver, Gold and Diamond celebrations

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Written for Royal Central by Jess Ilse

As The Queen prepares to mark her Platinum Jubilee on 6 February—with further celebrations in June—let’s take a look back at the previous three jubilees of her reign: the Silver Jubilee, the Golden Jubilee, and the Diamond Jubilee.

The Queen’s Silver Jubilee – 1977

The Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee, marking 25 years on the throne, in 1977.

Throughout the year, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visited 36 counties throughout the United Kingdom, starting in Scotland and ending in Northern Ireland. A global Commonwealth tour, with visits to Fiji, Tonga, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Canada, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Mustique, and Barbados also took place.

The main Silver Jubilee celebrations were over the week of 6 June, with The Queen lighting a jubilee beacon at Windsor Castle that then triggered lit beacons across the country. A Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral took place on 7 June in the presence of the Royal Family and world leaders, including all of the living former UK Prime Ministers. The Royal Family then appeared on the balcony at Buckingham Palace in front of a global audience of over 500 million people.

On 9 June, The Queen recreated a royal progress once taken by her predecessor Queen Elizabeth I, traveling by boat up the River Thames from Greenwich to Lambeth. During the trip, she opened the Silver Jubilee Walkway and the South Bank Jubilee Gardens before returning to Buckingham Palace in the evening via lighted carriages and stepping out onto the balcony to greet the crowds amassed on The Mall.

The Queen’s Golden Jubilee – 2002

The Queen celebrated her Golden Jubilee, marking 50 years on the throne, in 2002.

Sadness did mark the beginning of The Queen’s Golden Jubilee year. Both her mother and sister passed away following bouts of ill health and old age. Princess Margaret died on 9 February at the age of 71; The Queen Mother passed away on 30 March at the age of 101.

Golden Jubilee Weekend was celebrated between 1-4 June, beginning with ‘Prom at the Palace,’ a classical music concert at Buckingham Palace. Music would continue to play an important role throughout the weekend, with The Queen launching the BBC Music Live Festival (with more than 200 towns and cities playing “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles), and hosting Party at the Palace on 3 June.

Party at the Palace was a pop concert hosted at Buckingham Palace celebrating the musical evolution of the UK. Key performers included Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Tony Bennett and Cliff Richards, but it was Brian May, Queen’s guitarist, performing ‘God Save The Queen’ from the roof of Buckingham Palace that became the iconic moment of the concert.

After the concert, The Queen lit the National Beacon at the Victoria Memorial, the final in a series of 2,006 beacons lit around the world in celebration of her milestone.

The Royal Family attended multiple church services on 2 June. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh attended a service at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle; The Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry attended a service in Swansea, Wales; the Earl and Countess of Wessex attended a service in Salisbury; and The Princess Royal attended a service in Ayr, Scotland.

On 4 June, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were accompanied by the Royal Family for a National Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Queen and Prince Philip arrived in the Gold State Coach and later attended a lunch at Guildhall.

Finally, a Golden Jubilee procession along The Mall featured floats and performers showcasing life in the UK and the Commonwealth throughout The Queen’s reign. Over 5,000 performers from 54 countries in the Commonwealth featured in this tribute. The Royal Family then appeared on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to watch a flypast of every Royal Air Force aircraft then in service.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh once again undertook a global tour of the Commonwealth accumulating 64,000 km with visits to the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and Canada; as well as extensive visits throughout the United Kingdom.  

Only six monarchs have celebrated 50 years on the throne: Elizabeth II, Victoria, George III, James VI of Scotland, Henry III, and Edward III. Jubilees were not celebrated prior to George III, however.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – 2012

The Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee—marking 60 years on the throne—in 2012.

An extended bank holiday weekend was announced for the first weekend in June for the Dimaond Jubilee celebrations. Key events included the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, which saw 670 boats from around the world parade up the River Thames in the largest flotilla in the United Kingdom in 350 years.

A Diamond Jubilee Concert held at Buckingham Palace on 4 June saw performances by Robbie Williams, Ed Sheeran, Annie Lennox, Tom Jones, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and Paul McCartney, among others. An afternoon picnic for 10,000 concert goers had preceded the event.

The Royal Family and leaders from Commonwealth countries attended formal receptions and a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral on 4 and 5 June; and the Diamond Jubilee weekend ended with a balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace by The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry (Prince Philip was hospitalised for a bladder infection following the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, which took place in poor weather).

While The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visited counties throughout the United Kingdom, during this jubilee, due to their advancing ages, other members of the Royal Family undertook Commonwealth and other overseas visits.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Solomon Islands, Malaysia, Singapore, and Tuvalu.

Prince Harry visited The Bahamas, Belize, and Jamaica.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex visited Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Gibraltar, and Montserrat.

The Princess Royal visited Zambia and Mozambique. Prince Andrew visited India; The Duke of Gloucester visited Uganda and Malta.

Only one other monarch has celebrated a Diamond Jubilee: Victoria, who reigned for 63 years between 1837 and 1901.

The Queen’s Private Jubilees

The Queen did not publicly celebrate her Ruby Jubilee in 1992, though a lunch commemorating her 40 years on the throne on 24 November has now become famous for the ‘Annus Horribilis’ speech she gave citing the breakdowns of three of her children’s marriages and the devastating fire at Windsor Castle as reasons why “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.”

The Queen also did not publicly celebrate her Sapphire Jubilee in 2017 marking 65 years on the throne. This is the first jubilee milestone that no other monarch has matched.

Stay tuned to Royal Central throughout the year as we look back on the celebrations of The Queen’s past jubilees and keep reading up-to-the-minute coverage of The Queen’s historic Platinum Jubilee.

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