If there’s one thing I’m anxious to see in London this summer, it isn’t the Olympics. (Although I am psyched about having “won” the ticket lottery with seats to the best event ever: Women’s Gymnastics Team Final. Whoo hoo!) It’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend, June 2-4.
Queen Elizabeth isn’t the first to celebrate 60 years on the throne. Victoria reached the Diamond milestone as well, but the Brits didn’t get to throw a hootenanny for her since she remained in permanent mourning for her dear Albert and had become reclusive to boot. So for Elizabeth, a century of pent up celebration is finally popping.
There’s lots in store for the occasion – some of which has already happened. But I’m in the starting position for the big Jubilee Weekend in early June, and especially, the Thames Flotilla. Here’s where you’ll find me – and the rest of the UK that weekend:
Sat, June 2nd – You’ll find the Queen at the Epsom Derby, which she attends every year (along with Ascot) as it marks the height of the royal social season.
Sun, June 3rd – The Big Jubilee Lunch. This is when citizens are encouraged to throw traditional street parties in their local area. I look forward to these, but to be honest I was looking forward to them on the weekend of Kate & William’s wedding and didn’t see a one. Perhaps as a foreigner, I just didn’t know where to look?
The Thames Flotilla. Officially called the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, it’s all about the boats. In the biggest Thames event in at least 350 years (when England reinstated its monarchy, welcoming back Charles II from exile in France), 1,000 boats will exhibit down the Thames. Form kayaks to antiques, all sorts of floating…er, “floats”, will be led by the Queen on her occasion-built Royal Barge. Music will be provided by a buoyant orchestra, as well as church towers all along the 7 mile route which will peal their bells, “talking back” to the 8-note Jubilee Bell Tower accompanying the barge.
Mon, June 4th – It’s not over yet. Today there is the Jubilee Concert in front of Buckingham Palace featuring a stellar line-up of British and Commonwealth talent. For the most of us who won’t get tickets, it will be broadcast live on the BBC.
The Jubilee Beacons – This is the part I’m second-most-excited about. Across the Commonwealth a network of beacons will be lit, and the Queen will light the National Beacon. That might not sound impressive, but the Commonwealth still comprises 54 countries and almost one-third of the world’s population! Supposedly 2,012 beacons were to participate, but I see that number is up to 3,445. The Queen has too many fans to retain the symbolic number, I suppose. I also realize this event will be impossible to appreciate visually, but I love the reminder that, at the start of the monarchy, these would have been vitally important for communication in some circumstances. I’m entire sure that is not at all the point, but still. It tickles the history geek in me.
Tues, June 5th – St. Paul’s Thanksgiving Service and carriage procession. This event mirrors something Victoria did do for her Jubilee. It might also be your best chance to actually see the Queen this weekend.
The only question left for me is, where to watch from?