UK celebrates Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee

3 Jun

Queen Elizabeth II holds a number of remarkable records. She is the oldest reigning monarch and had the longest marriage in the British royal family. 

 

Even her coronation made television history: Never before had there been so many viewers, 300 million worldwide. She is also the longest-reigning British monarch to date. Only two more years, and she will have caught up with the French Sun King, Louis XIV (in office from 1643-1715), with 72 years of regency.

The queen has proved to be quite unflappable over the past 70 years. She can be relied upon to face crises unflinchingly; as far as she is concerned, feelings do not belong in the public eye. She always has a warm smile, a friendly wave at the ready for her subjects, and people enjoy a public celebration for her birthday every year at the beginning of June.

Grand festivities

In 2022, there will be not one, but two, additional days off for people in the UK to give them the opportunity to celebrate both the queen's birthday and platinum anniversary.

This year, everything is on a grander scale: On June 2, the celebrations begin with Trooping the Colour, a unique military parade that has been performed for centuries on the occasion of the birthday of a British regent, regardless of the actual birthday date. Elizabeth's birthday is on April 21. Jubilee Beacons will be lit throughout the United Kingdom, on the Channel Islands, on the Isle of Man, in the British Overseas Territories and in each of the 54 Commonwealth capitals. The next day, a service of thanksgiving for Elizabeth II's long reign is scheduled at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Superstar line-up at Buckingham Palace

On June 4, the BBC hosts a live concert at Buckingham Palace. The "Platinum at the Palace" show features Queen & Adam Lambert, Diana Ross, Hans Zimmer, Sir Rod Stewart and George Ezra, Duran Duran, Andrea Bocelli, Nile Rodgers and many more. Sam Ryder, who won a sensational 2nd place for the UK at the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, will also be on stage, as will celebrities from the world of cinema and sport, including Sir David Attenborough, Emma Raducanu, David Beckham, Stephen Fry, Dame Julie Andrews and the Royal Ballet. There will also be a special appearance by Sir Elton John. It is also the day of the Epson Derby, considered the oldest horse race in the world.

June 5 sees what is being called the Big Jubilee Lunch in the streets of urban neighborhoods and villages across the country, with long tables laden with food and drinks. More than 200,000 such parties are expected.

Not raised to be a queen

Elizabeth wasn't meant to be the British monarch; she wasn't even a crown princess. That changed when her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne and her father George VI became king as the next in line to the throne. She was 25 years old when her father died on February 6, 1952, and she became queen that same night. Princess Elizabeth, called Lilibet, became "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and her other realms and territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith." On June 2, 1953, she was officially crowned in a grand ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

As a young queen, Elizabeth experienced the fall of the British Empire, witnessed the Cold War, and most recently saw Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic. She has received 14 prime ministers, from Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher to Boris Johnson, at Buckingham Palace.

Complicated family

Early in her reign, Elizabeth faced issues with her sister Margaret: scandals, parties, affairs and the first divorce in the British royal family in about 400 years. She married Prince Philip in 1947. The couple had four children. Her eldest son and heir to the throne, Charles, and Lady Diana married in a lavish ceremony in 1981, but it quickly turned out the marriage was a disaster. All her children except the youngest son, Edward, ended up getting divorced. One of the queen's six grandchildren, Prince Harry, has broken away from the royal family.

Her son Prince Andrew has been a cause for concern for years because he is involved in a sex scandal and could face a sexual assault trial in the US later in the year. His mother stood by him for a long time, but in mid-January 2022 she withdrew all military ranks and royal patronage.

Diana's 1997 death in a car crash had an impact on the queen, too, but she was hardest hit by the loss of her beloved husband of 73 years, Philip, who died on April 9, 2021, shortly before her 95th birthday. He would have turned 100. The Queen expects a very special visitor from the US on her anniversary weekend: Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan and their two children Archie and Lilibet Diana.

Since the prince and his wife stepped back as senior royals and left the UK for California, the couple made a brief visit at Easter. This time they brought along their children, giving great-grandma Elizabeth the opportunity to meet little Lilibet, who was named after the Queen's family pet name, and congratulate her on her first birthday on June 4.

 

Author Silke Wünsch

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