The 6th of February 2022 marked 70 years since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was named as Queen of the United Kingdom. It is a significant milestone in her reign, making her the longest-reigning British Monarch. She will also rank amongst the longest-reigning monarchs of all time.
Now 95, Her Majesty the Queen has lived a long and fascinating life. As a proud British company, we are commemorating her Platinum Jubilee by highlighting key moments from her history, as well as exploring the meaning of this momentous occasion. The main events are only a few days away, now, after all.
HM Queen Elizabeth II is the first British ruler ever to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. Her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, celebrated both a Golden and a Diamond Jubilee, but did not reign long enough to reach her Platinum. Before we explore the history of Her Majesty the Queen, let’s look at the origins of the jubilee itself.
What is a Jubilee?
In its simplest form, a jubilee is a period of celebration. For most of us, a jubilee is a special event marking a significant milestone in a monarch’s reign. This year celebrates 70 years since HM Queen Elizabeth II inherited the throne of the UK.
The word “jubilee”, however, has its origins in Judaism. It was an event heavily tied to the Sabbath, occurring once every 50 years. It was a period of celebration and devotion to God. In modern Catholicism, a jubilee is a special year of forgiveness for sins. It will often involve a pilgrimage to a sacred site. These usually take place every 25 or 50 years, though special jubilees are sometimes announced.
Why Do We Have Jubilees?
The concept of jubilees to celebrate a monarch’s reign came to prominence in 1809, when George III of the United Kingdom began the fiftieth year of his reign. It was rare for a monarch to reign this long, marking it as a momentous achievement. Though other rulers – Henry III, Edward III, and James VI – wore the crown for fifty years or more, it is not known how, or if, they celebrated.
The concept of a nationwide celebration was introduced under George III, incorporating people from all corners of the empire. This continues today, with nations across the Commonwealth holding events to commemorate the Monarch’s reign.
The tradition of celebrating jubilees was continued under Queen Victoria, who celebrated her Golden Jubilee in recognition of 50 years on the throne, in 1887. She went on to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee, her 60-year anniversary, in 1897.
King George III’s jubilee was marked by a fete and firework displays. Queen Victoria’s jubilees were far more florid affairs, with banquets, processions, and royal guests from around the world.
As well as being the longest-reigning British Monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has also had more jubilees than any other British ruler. The Platinum Jubilee will mark the sixth such celebration.
How Many Bank Holidays Will There Be?
This year the jubilee will be marked by two bank holidays. To create a four-day weekend, the late May Spring Bank Holiday has been moved to 2nd of June. As a result, the jubilee bank holidays will occur on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd of June.
Will There Be a Jubilee Medal?
A commemorative medal is being awarded to serving frontline members of the police, fire, emergency services, prison services, and the armed forces to mark the Platinum Jubilee.
It will be awarded to members of the armed services who have completed at least five full calendar years of service on 6th of February 2022. Frontline emergency services personnel who have completed at least five years of service on 6th of February 2022 will also be eligible, as will prison services personnel who are regularly exposed to difficult and emergency situations.
Members of the Royal Household with one year of qualifying service will receive a medal, as will living recipients of the George or Victoria Cross.
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
Though Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was proclaimed Queen of the United Kingdom on 6th February 1952, she was not crowned until the 2nd of June 1953. The coronation was the first to be televised in full.
As is custom, a period of mourning was observed following the passing of Her Majesty’s father, George VI. His death in the morning of 6th February 1952 led to HM Elizabeth II’s accession the very same day.
Why is the Jubilee in June Instead of February?
Jubilee celebrations will begin in February, but the main events will not take place until June. The reason for this is both simple and heart-breaking: Her Majesty the Queen does not wish to celebrate her reign so close to the anniversary of her father’s death.
Instead, the jubilee is celebrated proper on the anniversary of her coronation. The summer date also increases the likelihood of pleasant weather. It will not be until the 2nd of June 2023, however, that the Queen will mark 70 years since her coronation.
How is the Jubilee Celebrated?
There has never been a Platinum Jubilee before. As a result, there is no template for how one is supposed to be celebrated. January saw the beginning of the Platinum Pudding Competition, with bakers from across the nation competing to create a new dish in commemoration of this landmark event. The winner, Jemma from Southport, produced a truly decadent lemon Swiss roll and amaretti trifle.
Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th of June will mark the full celebration of the Jubilee. It will be marked by the first full Trooping the Colour since the pandemic began, with more than 1,400 soldiers, 200 horses, and 400 musicians involved. This is an event you do not want to miss. It will also be televised on BBC One, and available on iPlayer.
The Platinum Jubilee will also be marked by the lighting of beacons in more than 1,500 locations within the British Isles and UK Overseas Territories. This year will also mark the first time that Commonwealth countries light Jubilee beacons.
A special Platinum Party has also been planned at Buckingham Palace. Members of the public will be invited to attend a live concert featuring some of the world’s biggest stars. This will be followed on the Sunday by the Big Jubilee Lunch, which will feature street parties across the UK. On the same day, there will be a Platinum Jubilee Pageant near Buckingham Palace, with 5,000 people from across the Commonwealth performing.
It will be a period full of life and awe-inspiring events. No doubt this year will be a momentous occasion for the people of the UK, and an event worth remembering for the rest of our lives.
The Life of HM Queen Elizabeth II
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has enjoyed a long and illustrious reign. As of 2022, she is the longest-reigning current Monarch, longest-serving current head of state, and the longest-serving female head of state across the world. At 95, she is also the longest-lived British Monarch.
HM the Queen was born on the 21st of April 1926 at her grandfather’s house in London. She was the first child of King George VI, though at this time he was still Duke of York. Her sister, and only sibling, Princess Margaret, was born in 1930.
The young Princess Elizabeth was baptised on the 29th of May, in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
As a child, she was affectionately nicknamed “Lilibet” by her close family. This was how she initially referred to herself when learning to speak. It continued to be Prince Philip’s pet name for her during their marriage.
She was home schooled by her mother, as well as a governess named Marion Crawford.
When Elizabeth was born, her grandfather George V was still on the throne. Her uncle, Edward, was next in line. After the abdication of Edward VIII, and her father’s accession as George VI, Elizabeth became the heir presumptive. Had her father gone on to have a male child, she would have become second in line for the throne again.
Second World War
HM Queen Elizabeth II was 13 when the Second World War broke out. Though the government attempted to convince the Royal Family to evacuate to Canada, they remained in Britain. The princesses resided in Balmoral until Christmas 1939, then moved to Sandringham House. However, they spent the majority of the war at Windsor Castle.
On October 13th, 1940, Princess Elizabeth gave her first public address on the radio. As part of the BBC’s Children’s Hour, she spoke from the drawing room of Windsor Castle. Speaking directly to the children who had been separated from their families, she hoped to boost public morale.
As the war effort continued, Elizabeth was pictured tending to allotments, showing solidarity with hard-working souls across the country. In 1944, having turned 18, Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British Army. She was given no special title in the ATS and went on to train as a mechanic.
By joining the ATS she became the first female of the Royal Family to be an active-duty member of the British Armed Forces. Until she chose to stop driving in 2019, Elizabeth was said to be a confident driver. Moreover, it is said that she always remained knowledgeable about car engines, applying the knowledge from her training with the ATS.
Marriage to Prince Philip
An inspiration to couples everywhere, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip enjoyed a long and happy marriage of 73 years. They got married on the 20th of November 1947 at Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth was the tenth member of the royal family to get married there.
The wedding itself was preceded by eight years of courtship. Then-Princess Elizabeth first met Philip in 1934, at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark to Prince George, Duke of Kent. They would go on to meet again in 1939, at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. After that meeting, the two began exchanging letters.
In 1946, the couple got engaged in secret – though with the permission of King George VI. It was not until July of 1947, following Elizabeth’s 21st birthday, that their engagement was officially announced.
Before they were wed, Prince Philip renounced his titles as Prince of Denmark and Greece. On the day before the wedding, Philip was awarded the title “Royal Highness”, and was invested as Duke of Edinburgh on the morning of the wedding.
The couple went on to have four children together, enjoying a happy and supportive relationship until Philip’s unfortunate passing in 2021.
Children and Grandchildren
Recent years have seen the Queen’s children and grandchildren truly step into the spotlight. With Prince Philip she had four children: Princes Charles, Edward, and Andrew, and Princess Anne.
Prince Charles is currently first in line for the throne and has been since 1952. He is well known for his charity contributions through the years, as well as his passion for environmentalism. In 1981 he married Princess Diana; theirs was a relationship that ended in tragedy. In 2005 he married Camilla.
Perhaps the most famous of Her Majesty the Queen’s grandchildren are Princes Harry and William, the sons of Charles and Diana. William is second in line for the throne after his father, Prince Charles. Between them they have provided Queen Elizabeth II with five grandchildren, with Prince George being third in the line of succession.
Throughout her long reign, Her Majesty the Queen has visited many countries and met numerous dignitaries. During her reign, there have been fourteen Prime Ministers, with the first being Winston Churchill. She has enjoyed positive relationships with most of them and has also met with five popes in the years since her coronation.
Her Majesty the Queen’s royal duties have taken her across the world. Her first tour, which took place before her accession, was to Kenya in 1952. After her father’s death the same year, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became Head of the Commonwealth, and in the years since has visited all member states except Cameroon and Rwanda. In 1986 she became the first British Monarch to visit China, touring the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army.
More recently, in 2011, Her Majesty the Queen was invited to the Republic of Ireland. She received a warm reception, overall, as she became the first British Monarch to visit what had become the Republic of Ireland since 1911. Whilst there had been many visits to Northern Ireland, tensions between the north and the Republic had proved an obstacle for visits elsewhere. The Queen’s visit was regarded as a “sign of the normalisation of relations” between the two nations.
As Queen of the United Kingdom, Her Majesty is patron to over 500 charity organisations across the UK. With her royal stamp of approval, these organisations are able to reach more people and make a real difference in the world. However, Her Majesty the Queen’s support doesn’t end there. Every year she calls for donations and arranges events for the benefit of charity. Research conducted in 2012 found that the Queen has helped organisations to raise more than £1.4 billion for good causes around the world, and no doubt that amount has increased considerably in the years since.
The Years to Come
The Queen has lived a long and fruitful life, and we hope she will continue to reign in the years to come. In May of 2024, she could become the longest-reigning (verifiable) Monarch, surpassing King Louis XIV of France. Regardless of the length of her reign, HM Queen Elizabeth II has established a legacy of kindness, unity, and international respect. Though a private individual, she is known as a loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, as well as a truly inspirational woman in her own right.
His Royal Highness Prince Charles is one of the most prominent public figures in the world. He is next in line to the throne of the United Kingdom and has supported international charities for years. The work he does not just for the crown but also for disadvantaged people across the world make him a true National Treasure.
Prince Charles was born on November 14th, 1948, in Buckingham Palace. He was the first child of then-Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and Prince Philip; his grandfather, George VI, was King at the time.
A month later, on December 15th, Charles was baptised at the Palace. The ceremony was performed by Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In 1952, upon the passing of his grandfather and his mother’s accession to the throne, he was named Heir Apparent. He was also given the titles Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay. Charles is now the oldest, and longest-serving, heir apparent in British history.
The young Prince Charles became one of the first royals to go to school rather than being educated at home. Between the ages of five and eight he was attended by a governess named Catherine Peebles. In 1956 he started at Hill House School, West London. Over the next ten years he would attend other schools, such as Cheam Preparatory School and Geelong Grammar School. When he left school in 1967, he had six GCE O-levels and two A-levels. These A-levels were in History and French, in which he earned a grade B and C, respectively.
Charles ended up being the first heir apparent in British history to attend university and get a degree. This went against the royal tradition of joining the British Armed Forces after leaving school. Instead, he attended Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1969, as the ceremony to crown him Prince of Wales approached, he went to Aberystwyth to study Welsh history and language.
Ultimately, Prince Charles graduated from the University of Cambridge with a 2:2 Bachelor of Arts degree on June 23rd, 1970. In his time at university, Charles did not entirely neglect the Armed Forces. He requested and received flight training from the Royal Air Force in his second year of studies, and flew himself to the Royal Air Force College Cranwell to train as a jet pilot in 1971.
Through the years, Prince Charles has attended many events on behalf of the royal family. It is, in fact, his duty as Prince of Wales to undertake functions on behalf of the Queen. One of the duties he performs regularly is a yearly tour of Wales. He attends important national events and fulfils a week of engagements every summer.
In 1995, Charles became the first member of the royal family to visit the Republic of Ireland in an official capacity. During this visit, Charles said, “The links and friendships between the peoples of these islands are found everywhere and in almost every family. This, ladies and gentlemen, must surely reinforce the important efforts now being made to build a lasting peace.”
At the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, Charles represented the Queen at the opening ceremony. He revisited Ireland in May 2015, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall. The British Embassy called it an important step in “promoting peace and reconciliation”.
Lady Diana Spencer was Prince Charles’s first wife. They first met in 1977, and at first were not drawn to one another. Over subsequent years, however, the two became closer, and eventually romantically involved. In 1981, following pressure from Prince Philip, Charles proposed to Diana. She accepted, and they got married on July 29th of the same year. The wedding took place at St Paul’s Cathedral.
The couple then lived at Kensington Palace and Highgrove House, near Tetbury. The marriage awarded Diana the title “Princess of Wales”. They had two children: Prince William, born in 1982, and Prince Henry (known as Harry) born in 1984. Charles was present at the births of both boys. This was something never seen amongst royal fathers.
After marrying, the couple went on many overseas tours. They also carried out many engagements together in the UK.
After about five years, the marriage started to fall apart. There was talk of infidelity on both sides. In 1992 the Prime Minister at the time, John Major, announced in Parliament that the couple had separated. They went on to divorce in 1996.
Diana continued to be considered a member of the royal family. She was still invited to attend official functions and became something of a celebrity. Paparazzi became somewhat obsessed with her.
Sadly, in August 1997, Diana died in a car crash. The accident occurred in Paris. Charles flew there with Diana’s sisters to accompany her body back to the UK. The funeral was held in September, with an estimated two million mourners gathering outside Westminster Abbey.
Camilla Parker Bowles
In February 2005, it was announced that Prince Charles was engaged to Camilla Parker Bowles. Instead of a church wedding, Charles and Camilla had a civil wedding at Windsor Guildhall. This was another royal first. The Queen did not attend but was present at the reception.
The wedding was initially scheduled to take place on April 8th. It was delayed by a day so that Charles and some of the dignitaries who would be present at the wedding could attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
The couple remain together today. They regularly attend royal functions together. Charles and Camilla have not had any children.
Prince Charles is well-known for his international charity work. He is a president of more than 16 organisations, including The Prince’s Trust. This organisation was founded in 1976. These charities annually raise over £100 million to support charity work across the world.
Some of the charities he supports help to get young people into employment, as well as protecting the environment and minority communities. Some specific charities he has supported include Children In Crisis, National Wildlife Federation, and the Red Cross.
The Prince is also a keen watercolourist and has sold and exhibited many of these paintings to benefit charity. From his youth, Charles was a keen polo player; until 2005 he played regularly, often for charity. It is safe to say that his charity work will be Prince Charles’s most enduring legacy.