In 2012 Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, celebrates 60 years of reign as monarch and head of the 16 Commonwealth Realms of the United Kingdom. In Florence, special events organized by the British Institute will join myriad celebrations taking place in London and around the world from June 2 to 5 to mark her Diamond Jubilee.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary ascended to the throne on February 6, 1952, at the age of 25, following the death of her father King George VI. Her coronation service on June 3 of the following year was the first ever to be televised. The queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee (25 years) in 1977 and her Golden Jubilee (50 years) in 2002. She is the second monarch in British history to celebrate 60 years on the throne, after Queen Victoria in 1897, who reigned as Queen of the United Kingdom and Ireland for 63 years.
As part of the worldwide celebrations, the British Institute in Florence recently unveiled a Diamond Jubilee programme. Noting that more than 100 people attended the screening of Kate Middleton and Prince William’s wedding in April 2011, officials at the British Institute are expecting a great turnout for its Diamond Jubilee events.
The centrepiece will be a classic English tea party, a free event that is open to all, in the historic surroundings of the Harold Acton library on Sunday, June 3, from 2pm to 6pm. During tea, guests will be able to watch live the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, during which the queen will lead one of the largest flotillas ever seen on the River Thames.
Guests will also be able to purchase British tea and cakes, buy a ticket in the Fortnum & Mason Jubilee Hamper raffle (the hamper includes Fortnum & Mason Jubilee tea, biscuits, preserves, a Jubilee teapot and four matching cups and saucers; tickets on sale at the British Institute library in advance: 1 euro per ticket, 6 for 5 euro), and play traditional British family games.
Continuing the royal theme, Lauri Thorndyke will be giving a lecture entitled, Three English Queens, on June 6 at 6pm (see also page 19).
IT’S A BIG KINGDOM AFTER ALLIn addition to the United Kingdom, there are 15 other Commonwealth Realms: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St. Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. Members of the royal family will visit each of the 15 realms during the Diamond Jubilee year.
Don’t miss another Diamond Jubilee event that will span the Commonwealth: On June 4, a network of 4,000 Jubilee Beacons will be lit across the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, along with the Commonwealth and UK Overseas Territories. Organizers of the event have applied to the Guinness Book of Records for the longest chain of beacons ever, after surpassing the original target number of 2,012 beacons.
The official Diamond Jubilee website (www.thediamondjubilee.org) features the latest events, news, photographs, announcements and historical information about the Queen’s 60-year reign.
Diamond Jubilee fun facts!During the her six decades of reign, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have sent approximately 45,000 Christmas cards; and, continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI, the queen has given approximately 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff!
[This article was revised online on May 28, 2012. The reference ‘Her Royal Highness’ was replaced with ‘Her Majesty’ in line one.]