(by Gregory Katz, WashingtonTimes.com) AP – LONDON – [Daily life in Britain has] given way [over] four days for a series of street parties, flotillas, outdoor concerts and finally the appearance of [the Queen] on her balcony to wave to her subjects [to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee].
The pageantry is very grand and very British. But at the heart of the Diamond Jubilee celebration is a nearly universal sense of appreciation for the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who is marking 60 years on the throne.
The queen was a vibrant young woman of 25 when she became the head of state of a faltering post-war nation. Today at 86 she remains strong of heart and stout of spirit, refusing to let age slow her pace or dim her smile, which if anything has grown more welcoming over the years.
Winston Churchill was prime minister when she became queen, and David Cameron, who wasn’t even born then, is Britain’s leader now. Elizabeth herself has no political role. But her royal mystique, the centuries of history she embodies and her own discreet charisma help define the very idea of Britain for the world.
Alan Watson, a member of the House of Lords who has written a book about the queen, said the Jubilee is a joyous occasion for many Britons who see the queen as a symbol of stability.
“These 60 years have been years of really dramatic change in the UK … the country has lost its empire and is no longer in the front rank of power, and I really think that change has been enormously eased by her and what she represents. My feeling is she has enabled change by her reassurance of essential continuity.”
When Lord Watson joined the queen at a rain-soaked tree-planting ceremony in Richmond several weeks ago, he said he was struck by her buoyant mood as the Jubilee approached.
“I got the clear feeling that she is really enjoying things,” he said. “It was pouring rain, but she really looked radiant, a happy person. I think she feels very content in herself. I think she is satisfied with how the reign has gone.”
Elizabeth has weathered shaky times with her children, whose marriages have tended to break apart, and her popularity suffered after the 1997 death of Princess Diana, with some finding her response to the tragedy to be cold and out of touch with public sentiment. …
But all evidence suggests the queen’s connection to her subjects has recovered from those blows.
There was overwhelming support for Elizabeth at the last great celebration that focused on her role – the Golden Jubilee bash that in 2002 marked her 50 years on the throne.
The event is remembered not just for the concerts and the parties but for the spectacle of an estimated 1 million people gathered in front of Buckingham Palace to wave to the queen and say: “Well done.”
Palace officials are hoping this simple show of affection will be repeated on Tuesday when the festivities climax with another balcony appearance.
They have reason to be optimistic. Newspaper polls [last] week suggested that affection and appreciation for Elizabeth cut across all ages, social classes and political affiliations.
For many, she is a living link to the challenges and triumphs of World War II, when she was a young princess who helped with the war effort, even learning how to drive and service heavy vehicles with the Auxiliary Transport Service.
Her staying power is impressive. Elizabeth is the oldest person to reign over Britain, and only Queen Victoria [her great-great grandmother], who took the throne at an earlier age, had a longer reign.
It is of course true that some are indifferent or hostile to the monarchy, with its vast inherited wealth and status, but few question the dedication or sincerity of the queen.
“She’s done a very good job,” said Jean Robson, a London retiree. “She works so very hard. The family’s had problems like every family, and she’s dealt with them very well.”
Robson said she and her family admire the royal family and its longtime role in the nation’s life.
“We’re very lucky to have them,” she said.
Others just feel good about the queen, even if they aren’t exactly sure what she does or what she’s really like.
“I personally like her, I think she’s like the nation’s grandma,” said Sarah Mills, a 27-year-old from York. “She seems like such a nice old lady. You can’t really know her though, can you?” …
Princes William and Harry [the Queen’s grandsons] have used rare television interviews given in the run-up to the Jubilee to emphasize that the queen is just “granny” to the younger generation. Harry described her as an active, involved parent and grandparent trying to keep track of her large brood.
He said the queen is “really very, very normal. Very relaxed. But you know, she obviously takes a huge interest in what we all do. You know, that’s her children, as well as her grandchildren.”
The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, are also coping with his heart disease, which surfaced over the Christmas holidays when he required emergency treatment to clear a blocked artery.
The 91-year-old has cut back slightly on his public appearances and some of his charity work, but is expected to be at the queen’s side for the Jubilee events.
Associated Press writer Sylvia Hui contributed to this report. Copyright 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. Reprinted from The Washington Times for educational purposes only. Visit the website at washingtontimes.com.
Watch a video of yesterday’s event on the Thames:
1. What is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee?
2. How do the people of Britain view their Queen? (see paragraphs 2, 5-6, 15, 17-21)
3. List several words/phrases the reporter uses to describe Queen Elizabeth II.
4. a) How old is the Queen?
b) In what year did Queen Elizabeth II ascend the throne?
5. Read the “Background” and “Resources” below the questions.
a) What do you think of the time/amount/type of festivities planned for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee?
b) A national church service of thanksgiving will take place at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Tuesday, attended by the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip (the Duke of Edinburgh). A special prayer has been written for the occasion. Are you surprised by this inclusion in the events to honor the Queen’s Jubilee? Explain your answer.
THE HISTORY OF JUBILEES: (from the British Monarchy’s official website royal.gov.uk/HMTheQueen/TheQueenandspecialanniversaries/HistoryofJubilees/Overview.aspx)
In the New Testament, Jesus presents himself as the One who brings the old Jubilee to completion, because he has come to “preach the year of the Lord’s favour” (Isaiah 61: 1-2). In the Roman Catholic Church, jubilees began to be celebrated formally in 1300 AD and are years of forgiveness of sins and reconciliation. They are celebrated every 25 years. The most recent year of jubilee was 2000.
Royal Jubilees celebrate significant periods in monarchs’ reigns and the national life. Few British monarchs have achieved reigns of 50 years, and Golden Jubilees are very rare. There are few records of how – if at all – Henry III, Edward III and James VI and I celebrated their 50-year milestones.
The first British monarch to mark 50 years on the throne in a significant way was George III, followed by Queen Victoria. The Queen had Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977, when she marked 25 years on the Throne – her Silver Jubilee.
60 FACTS ABOUT THE QUEEN: (go to royal.gov.uk/HMTheQueen/TheQueenandspecialanniversaries/Factfiles/60FactsaboutTheQueen.aspx for the entire list)
As of January 1, 2012:
1. The Queen is the second longest serving monarch. Only five other kings and queens in British history have reigned for 50 years or more. They are:
4. Over the reign, Her Majesty has given regular audiences to 12 Prime Ministers. They are:
6. The Queen has attended every opening of Parliament except those in 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.
7. There have been six Archbishops of Canterbury during The Queen’s reign (Archbishops Geoffrey Fisher, Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggan, Robert Runcie, George Carey and Rowan Williams).
8. There have been six Roman Catholic Popes during The Queen’s reign (Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI).
14. The Queen has answered around three and a half million items of correspondence.
15. The Queen has sent over 175,000 telegrams to centenarians in the UK and the Commonwealth.
16. The Queen has sent almost 540,000 telegrams to couples in the UK and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding (60 years) anniversary.
17. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have sent approximately 45,000 Christmas cards during The Queen’s reign.
18. The Queen has given out approximately 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI
19. In 60 years, The Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 96 State Visits, to 116 different countries.
22. In 60 years, The Queen has often traveled to her major Realms. Her Majesty has visited Australia 16 times, Canada 22 times, Jamaica 6 times and New Zealand 10 times.
30. The Queen has laid her wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday every year of her reign, except in 1959, 1961, 1963, 1968, 1983 and 1999 when she was either pregnant or overseas on an official visit.
31. The Queen has attended 56 Royal Maundy services in 43 Cathedrals during her reign. A total of 6,710 people have received Maundy Money in recognition of their service to the Church and their communities.
32. The Queen has been at the saluting base of her troops in every Trooping the Colour ceremony since the start of her reign, with the exception of 1955, when a national rail strike forced the cancellation of the parade.
36. Over the course of the reign, almost one and a half million people have attended garden parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse (The Queen ended Debutante Presentation Parties in 1958).
37. The Queen has sat for 129 portraits during her reign.
38. The first ‘Royal walkabout’ took place during the visit by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to Australia and New Zealand in 1970. The practice was introduced to allow them to meet as many people as possible, not simply officials and dignitaries.
40. An important innovation during The Queen’s reign was the opening in 1962 of a new gallery at Buckingham Palace to display items from the Royal Collection. The brainchild of The Duke of Edinburgh, the new Queen’s Gallery occupied the space of the Palace’s bomb-damaged private chapel. It was the first time that parts of the Palace had been opened to the general public. The new Queen’s Gallery was redeveloped and re-opened in 2002 for the Golden Jubilee.
41. The Queen has made a Christmas Broadcast to the Commonwealth every year of her reign except 1969, when a repeat of the film ‘Royal Family’ was shown and a written message from The Queen issued. In 2002 The Queen made her 50th Christmas Broadcast and in 2004 The Queen issued her first separate broadcast for members of the British Armed Forces.
44. The Queen hosts “theme days” and Receptions to promote and celebrate aspects of British culture. Recent examples from 2011 include a reception for Young People and the Performing Arts and for Explorers. Other themes have included Publishing, Broadcasting, Tourism, Emergency Services, Maritime Day, Music, Young Achievers, British Design, and Pioneers.
53. The Queen has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign, starting with Susan who was a present for her 18th birthday in 1944. A good proportion of these have been direct descendants from Susan. Her Majesty currently has three corgis – Monty, Willow and Holly.
54. The Queen also introduced a new breed of dog known as the “dorgi” when one of Her Majesty’s corgis was mated with a dachshund named Pipkin which belonged to Princess Margaret. There have been 11 dorgis – Tinker, Pickles, Chipper, Piper, Harris, Brandy, Berry, Cider, Candy and Vulcan.
55. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have been married for 64 years. They were married on 20th November, 1947 in Westminster Abbey.
59. Queen Victoria was the last and to date the only British Monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. The Queen, who was aged 85 on Accession Day in 2012, is the oldest monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. Queen Victoria was 77 when she celebrated hers in 1897.
60. There have been only three Diamond Jubilees of Heads of State celebrated throughout the world during The Queen’s reign. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand celebrated 60 years on the throne in 2006; the former Sultan of Johor (now a part of Malaysia) celebrated his in 1955; and the late Emperor Hirohito of Japan celebrated his in 1986.
Visit Diamond Jubilee websites for information about the Queen, photos, etc.:
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee main events: (from bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18147354)
Saturday (June 2)
Sunday (June 3)
Monday (June 4)
Tuesday (June 5)