Diamond Jubilee 2012 – 60th Anniversary of The Reign of Queen Elizabeth II:
Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne took place on 6 February 1952 and 2012 marks the 60th anniversary of her reign as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Diamond Jubilee celebrations are planned for many cities throughout Britain and royal watchers and anyone interested in the history of the monarchy will have much to look forward to in this Diamond Jubilee year.
As the British Monarch and Head of the Commonwealth, the Queen is one of the most public figures in the world. Yet not many Londoners can claim to have seen her close-up or met her. Perhaps this is the year for spotting the Queen or having a royal encounter. Walk in the footsteps of the Queen and, who knows, you could get lucky.
The Queen in London
Walk around the streets of London and you’ll see traces of the Queen’s early life everywhere:
- At 17 Bruton Street Mayfair there is a plaque on the wall. This used to be the London townhouse of the Queen’s maternal grandfather and this was where she was born on April 21st, 1926. Although she was not born in a palace, Mayfair is London’s most exclusive district.
- Just opposite at 10 Bruton Street was the atelier of Norman Hartnell, couturier to the establishment and “Royal dressmaker”. He made the Queen’s 1953 Coronation Dress.
- Not far from Bruton Street, at 145 Piccadilly, was where the Queen spent her early childhood.
- From Piccadilly you can take a bus ride, or walk, west to the former Hyde Park Hotel (now the Mandarin Oriental). This was where the young Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret had dancing lessons.
- Stroll out of the hotel into Hyde Park at around 10.40 am, or 9.40 am on a Sunday, and you should see the smart sight of Her Majesty’s Life Guard trotting past on their way to Whitehall. The magnificent horses that they ride are called the “Cavalry Blacks”.
- Until relatively recently, the Queen attended the annual Trooping the Colour on horseback. Now you can see her taking the Royal salute from her carriage.
- Keep your eyes peeled in the roads around St James’s Palace and the Mall and you might just see a small figure through the tinted glass as a gleaming limousine glides past – sometimes, she waves.
The Queen at the Races
The Queen is never far from horses and racing is in her blood. One of the best – and most relaxing – places to spot her is at one of the big horse shows (Badminton, Gatcombe Park or the Royal Windsor), where she may well be strolling around, talking to other horse lovers.
If you enjoy the races and dressing up, a more formal occasion is Royal Ascot in June. Here you will experience tradition, pageantry, fashion and get to see more than the Queen. At 2 pm, after lunch at Windsor Castle, the entire Royal Party make their way to the Royal Enclosure via the Golden Gates on all five days of the meeting. They pass in front of all the stands and the entire crowd will doff their top hats and glare at anyone who fails to do so. Like all punters, the Queen will be scanning her race card and then she awards prizes in the Parade Ring.
All The Queen’s Homes
Windsor Castle – The Queen loves Windsor, where she lived during the War, put on Christmas pantomimes with other children in the castle and made her famous BBC Children’s Hour wartime broadcast. Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. It is open year round and there is the possibility of the odd glimpse of a car flying the royal standard zooming into the Upper Ward where the Royal Apartments are. You can book a tour to Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace Here.
Buckingham Palace – This has been the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837 and today it is the official London residence of the Queen. The State Apartments at Buckingham Palace open to the public every August and September. Book a visit to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle Here.
Sandringham House – If you happen to be in Norfolk at Christmas, Sandringham House is where the Royal Family spends their Christmas. On Christmas Day you can see the Royals walking from the House to St Mary Magdalene Church where they traditionally attend Christmas mass. The Queen however arrives at the church by car. Sandringham Estate is the private property of the British Royal Family. The house is closed to visitors during the winter season but in spring it re-opens to the public.
Balmoral Castle – Along with Sandringham, Balmoral Castle is also owned by the Royal Family. This is the Queen’s summer retreat in Scotland and so it is open for house visits and Land Rover Safaris on the estate earlier in the year.
Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh is open year round. The Queen, being patron, is often at the annual Braemar Gathering on the first weekend in September.