So depending upon where in the world you are reading this from, you may have heard about the Platinum Jubilee that is being celebrated in the UK this week, and you may well be planning a celebration of your own.
This once in a lifetime event is the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and 11 other countries of the Commonwealth realm. As of September 2015, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch of the UK, surpassing Queen Victoria who had held the throne for 63 years and 216 days. This milestone also earned her the record of the longest reigning female monarch in world history. It is also interesting to learn at this point that there have only been 6 female monarchs in the UK to date in history, 3 of those reigned for over 40 years each - Queen Elizabeth II at her current 70 years, Queen Victoria at 63 years, and Queen Elizabeth I at 44 years.
Queen Elizabeth II joins just 3 other monarchs across the world who have reached a Platinum Jubilee/70th anniversary of accession to the throne. These being Louis XIV of France in the 1700's, Johann II Prince of Liechtenstein in 1928, and King Bhumibol of Thailand in 2016. As of the time of writing, Louis XIV of France is the longest reigning monarch of a sovereign state with a reign of 72 years and 100 days. An incredible feat! Especially as he managed to survive until the age of 76 at a time when average life expectancy was around 40 years! So, as you can see from those figures, experiencing a Platinum Jubilee is something of a big deal.
The Platinum Jubilee in the UK is to be celebrated with a 4 day Bank Holiday weekend - I'm holding out hope for a bit of sunshine as in our house we are celebrating with a garden party, and I'm sure many others will be doing the same. I believe we are forecast to have some sunshine, but all of you reading from the UK will know our luck with the weather when it comes to a Bank Holiday weekend! Some neighbourhoods have been granted permission to have street parties with the local residents. This involves the closure of the road to traffic and the setting up of tables in the street so that all local residents can gather and celebrate together. Often, people will be encouraged to bring food and drink along to share with their neighbours as part of the party. Sadly, where I live is a bit of a busy street and a major access route so we won't be sitting in the road with our neighbours enjoying the festivities! Nonetheless we will be out sharing sandwiches, tea and cakes with friends, family and neighbours, as per our British nature!
Many local businesses appear to be offering special Jubilee afternoon tea, and/or cake - this sort of offering for a celebration is right up my street. I've also noticed that many houses and shops have been busy decorating with lots of red, white and blue on display, alongside the Union flag (I remind myself at this point, that is only to be referred to as the Union Jack if it is being flown on a warship…although as with anything, that is up for debate!) Something else I have spotted is that a lot of post boxes have suddenly become decorated with knitted or crocheted 'hats'! One of which has popped up on the box in our village. I've seen several other magnificent creations across other local towns and villages too. As per my usual 'last minute' trait, I shall be decorating my garden on Thursday. It would be unlike me to organise anything too far in advance, so I'm not about to start now, and I'm definitely not crafty enough to knit anything like the magnificent creations I have seen!
As for official events to mark the Jubilee - on Thursday 2nd June, the Trooping the Colour will take place to mark the Queen's official birthday, followed by the traditional RAF fly past - somewhat of a spectacle! A service of Thanksgiving will take place at St Paul's Cathedral on Friday 3rd June in honour of the Queen, followed by the Platinum Party at the Palace the following day which will be a televised event broadcast live from Buckingham Palace. The last Party at the Palace in 2002 for the Golden Jubilee (50 year anniversary) was watched worldwide by over 200 million people, with a reported 1 million people watching from outside the Palace gates! I'm sure this one will attract a similar sized audience too.
On Sunday 5th, people are invited to share their Jubilee lunch, or street party with their community, followed by the Platinum Jubilee Pageant at Buckingham Palace and the surrounding areas. Over 5000 people from across the Commonwealth will take part in this pageant, showcasing music, theatre, street arts and other celebrations of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. I don't know about you, but I think Her Majesty has quite a busy weekend ahead of her!
As the official date of the Jubilee was February 6th, with this weekend the peak of the year long celebrations, the Queen is reported to have received many gifts already. Most notably a horse, gifted from the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev! Over the years, the Queen has received all kinds of interesting gifts, including beavers, jaguars, sloths, a bag of salt and a ceramic figurine of Prince Charles with Postman Pat! I'm pretty sure they don't feature on many gift lists…..! Mind you, it's not surprising she has received a lot of gifts over the years, having 2 birthdays each year. I've always known that she has 2 birthdays, but I've never really known why until this week. Her actual birthday is in April, while her official birthday is in June. This is because her actual birthday isn't in the summer. Any monarch who doesn't have a summer birthday gets an 'official' one in the summer months. As a December baby, I've always said I would like another one in July so I could enjoy the nicer weather, I think she is on to something there.
However you are celebrating this weekend, or if you are not celebrating at all, I hope you all have a fabulous time, and fingers crossed for some lovely sunshine to go with my tea and cake! And I do wonder what Her Majesty would put on her gift list should she write one…