For being one of the most important days in the UK this year, the number two is almost a theme: today marks the Diamond Jubilee (60th anniversary) of Queen Elizabeth the Second of the United Kingdom’s accession to the throne. It is the second jubilee this year (following Queen Margrethe’s Ruby Jubilee last month), and the second Diamond Jubilee to ever be celebrated in the UK or any of its preceding nations (Great Britain, England, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland, and Wales), the first being that of Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.
On February 6, 1952, then-Princess Elizabeth and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh were in Kenya, the first stop of a royal tour of the Commonwealth. Famously, she was spending the night in the Treetops Hotel when her father, King George VI, died in his sleep. (The saying goes that she went up the tree a princess and came down a Queen.) The rest of the tour was understandably cancelled, and the new Queen, only 25 years old, returned to London.
The Clarenceux King of Arms reads the official proclamation of the accession of Queen Elizabeth.
Of all the monarchs of modern Europe, there are few I admire more than Queen Elizabeth. She has taken her vow to devote her entire life to the service of her Commonwealth extremely seriously, and now, in her Diamond Jubilee message, she “dedicates [herself] anew,” most likely meaning that she intends to keep her promise to never abdicate. At the age of 85, she still undertakes over 300 engagements a year, but even for all her duties, she still prefers a quiet, simple life. Additionally, she almost never puts a foot wrong. Her last major faux pas sprung mostly from the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the difference between the royals’ traditional privacy in mourning and the very public wave of emotion, and even that was eventually smoothed over. (Side note: seeing as I’m American, I have no monarch of my own, but Queen Elizabeth is my favorite monarch to “borrow.”)
The biggest of the Diamond Jubilee festivities – including a water pageant on the River Thames – will take place during the first weekend in June, to coincide with the warmer weather, but today a variety of services are being conducted to kick off the half-year of celebrations (Buckingham Palace and the London 2012 Olympic organizers apparently don’t want the Olympic and Jubilee celebrations to clash/conflict/cancel each other out).
This weekend, the official Diamond Jubilee website went live – www.thediamondjubilee.org – where you can keep updated on all the official Jubilee happenings, and two new official portraits of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were released.
Congratulations to Her Majesty on 60 years, and here’s to many more.