The diamond jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II took place over four days of the extended weekend of 2nd- 5th June. Two bank holidays meant that everyone could enjoy the festivities and celebrations and street parties took place all over the country.
On Saturday the celebrations began when the Queen made her annual appearance at the Epsom Derby.
Sunday afternoon saw the much awaited 1000 vessel river pageant, the like of which had not been seen since the reign of Charles II three and a half centuries ago. From the specially decorated Royal Barge, the Queen, Prince Philip and close family members viewed the pageant, the Barge itself joining the pageant for part of the journey down the Thames. Over 1million people gathered on the riverbank to watch the event, despite the inclement weather, and saw boats of every kind passing. The flotilla was divided into categories. First came manpowered vessels of every kind led by the Gloriana, the 94ft row barge specially built for the jubilee and powered by the country’s finest rowers including Olympic gold medallists. In their wake followed every kind of motorised boat seen on Britain’s seas and inland waterways. Historic boats such as the Havengore, Churchill’s funeral boat, and the Dunkirk Little Ships and a noisy, mucky bunch of working boats, dredgers and tugs. Following on came the ‘home’ boats, barges and narrow boat and private motor boats all hooting and parping, their crews waving and shouting a popular song of thanks.
The following evening a spectacular open air concert took place outside Buckingham Palace. Many celebrities took part including Elton John, Paul McCartney, Shirley Bassey Tom Jones and Katherine Jenkins and the concert delighted the thousands of people who streamed into the Mall to enjoy the entertainment which was attended by the Queen and members of the Royal Family. Fireworks and coloured lighting added to the atmosphere and the clever use of technology and creativity transformed the front of the palace into a terrace of houses to a rendition of the song ‘Our House’.
The final day of the celebrations on Tuesday June 5th brought a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral. This engendered a period of thoughtfulness and reflection to what had been a packed and diverse four days of outpouring of national pride and joy in the achievements, commitment, and consistency of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen has a profound Christian faith. It informs all she does and how she does it, so it was fitting that this service at St Paul’s should end the celebrations. But the celebrations did not end until the Queen and the close members of the Royal Family proceeded home in two State Coaches and the Queen had made an appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to the delight of the gathered crowd. By this time the crowd had grown to inhabit every space in front of the Palace and right down along the Mall.
On the last day the Queen also gave a short address to the nation thanking everyone for their love and support.