If visitors to the 2012 London Olympics care to arrive a few weeks early, they can join in an exciting programme of festivities to celebrate another historic occasion. That’s because 2012 sees a royal event that has only happened once before in our history: a Diamond Jubilee.
This marks 60 years on the throne by Queen Elizabeth II – previously only Queen Victoria had celebrated such a landmark. As for the Golden Jubilee of 2002, organisers have planned a packed schedule of activities to mark the great occasion. At the heart of the festivities will be a four-day “Diamond Jubilee Weekend”. Tuesday 5th June 2012 is to be an extra bank holiday, while the late spring holiday is moved to Monday 4th June to make a long Jubilee Weekend.
On 4th of June the BBC will organise a spectacular concert at Buckingham Palace – the line up is yet to be decided, but you can bank on it being as star-studded as the Golden Jubilee Palace Concerts. Tickets will be allocated by ballot. A brilliant innovation is the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on Sunday 3rd June, when Her Majesty will lead a colourful flotilla of up to 1,000 craft up the Thames, London’s historic waterway.
The armed forces, fire, police and rescue service will all be present, together with 30,000 spectators in passenger boats, plus Thames sailing boats, music barges, pyrotechnic barges, and historic boats. Back on dry land the Queen will light the first in a chain of 2,012 beacons, blazing across the nation.
Many more events, some yet to be announced, will be held in Britain and the Commonwealth. People will be encouraged to share a “Jubilee” Sunday lunch with family, friends and neighbours on Sunday 3rd June. The long Diamond Jubilee weekend will finish with the traditional carriage procession and thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral.
As a postscript, the Diamond Jubilee Emblem will be used on a wide range of commemorative Diamond Jubilee items. Usually it’s designed by professionals, but this time it’s the work of 10-year-old Katherine Dewar from Chester, whose design was selected from 35,000 entries in a Blue Peter competition.