Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Queens and their Jubilees

(The Queens at Coronation: Elizabeth II and Victoria)
When I heard that Queen Elizabeth II was celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this month, I have to admit that I wasn't quite sure exactly what a jubilee entailed.  Given that I secretly love the royals (even though I constantly find that I know very little about them), I decided I should find out what this shindig is all about and inform you, dear readers.  Just in case, you know, you are a bunch of fairy tale-believing, queen admiring, anglophiles like me.  

A jubilee is, in fact, nothing more than an anniversary.  A Royal Jubilee celebrates milestones in the reign of a monarch.  Queen Elizabeth the II celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 1977, marking her 25 year reign, her Golden Jubilee in 2002, marking her 50th year on the throne, and this month (June 2012), she is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee and 60 years as Queen of the British Empire.  Wouldn't you know; Queen Victoria is the only other British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee and she did so in 1897.  

The practice of jubilees as moments of celebration and renewal dates back to biblical times.  A jubilee may no longer guarantee the forgiveness of moral monetary debt (as was once its historical significance) but that doesn't mean that it isn't still cause for a party.  When Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubliee in 1887, dozens of monarchs came from around the world to pay homage to her.  A special procession was held in her honor and it stretched for miles through the streets of London.  Victoria's Golden Jubilee was one of the first occasions for which royal souvenirs were created (a tradition we all know remains alive and well).  In addition, the first time that a royal landed their head on a postage stamp was Queen Victoria as yet another aspect of the month-long celebration of her enduringly popular reign.  
(Diamond Jubilee Stamps: Victoria, Elizabeth II)
Queen Elizabeth II may not have had to wait for her Diamond or even Golden Jubilee to find herself on a postage stamp; however, the celebrations planned over the coming months are just as exciting.  The central weekend (June 2-5th) was celebrated with a royal procession, a ceremony at St. Paul's and  a balcony appearance by Her Majesty.  Elizabeth and family will also be heading out on a Jubilee tour of sorts, visiting various members of the Commonwealth during this special year.  While the Queen is off having her fun, the fact that it is a Jubilee year means that, even for commoners, there is an excuse to throw random parties for the next little while.  There is even a feature on the official website to look up special events in your area.  I think I should plan a Jubilee Tea Party.  Or better yet, this would be a lovely year for a trip to London.  With the Olympics in July and the Jubilee celebrations occurring throughout the rest of the summer, it really seems like the place to be.  So what say you to this?  I propose a Victorian Swag field trip for, er, historical research purposes.  Heck, let's all head to London, find a pub, and toast the Queen's reign with a pint.  Elizabeth may not be Victoria, but she's all we've got.  
(Long Live the Queen)

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