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Platinum Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II by Hélène de Lauzun

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Platinum Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II

For a few days, the British monarchy will live to the rhythm of Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee. In 2015, the Queen broke the record for longevity on the English throne, an honour previously held by Queen Victoria. Queen Elizabeth came to the throne on February 6th, 1952, at the age of 25, and this year she celebrates her 70th year as England’s sovereign: a rare and exceptional event, which has mobilised British and international opinion, given that the Queen’s stature as a legendary figure extends far beyond the British Isles. Her popularity is already long-standing and is only confirmed year after year. The Queen’s Christmas greetings in recent years, for example, have had an extremely wide audience, far beyond her British subjects.

An extra bank holiday has been given for the occasion, and the usual spring bank holiday has been moved from the end of May to the beginning of June, to create a four-day Jubilee bank holiday weekend from Thursday, June 2nd, to Sunday, June 5th.

The popular enthusiasm can be felt everywhere, expressed in sometimes unexpected exhibitions, such as lego re-enactments of official ceremonies, or the appearance on social networks of a corgi emoji in honour of the Queen’s favourite dog breed, called “PJ the corgi.”

The festivities began on Thursday, June 2nd, with the traditional Trooping the Colour parade, during which the Queen appeared with her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. This traditional parade dates back to the 17th century, and since 1748 has been used to celebrate the “official” birthday of the sovereign—regardless of his or her actual date of birth. The choice of June ensures good weather. Elizabeth has never missed the event since she came to the throne, except once, in 1955, when the event had to be cancelled due to railway strikes. Since 1987, however, she has not attended on horseback, but in an open carriage. Since 2019, the BBC has been livestreaming the event on its YouTube account.

Media attention has, of course, focused on the still complex relationship between Elizabeth’s two grandsons, Princes William and Harry, who are expected to cross paths during the festivities, but always from a distance. The Sussexes participate in the ceremonies, but in a discreet way. On Saturday, June 4th, the first birthday of their daughter Lilibet, who was presented to her great-grandmother for the first time, is to be celebrated in parallel. 

During the ceremony, the Duchess of Cambridge was part of the convoy, in a carriage where she was seated with her three children and the Duchess of Cornwall. Prince William and Prince Charles rode in on horseback in full regalia, as did Princess Anne, Charles’ sister and a distinguished horsewoman

The Platinum Jubilee celebrations are an opportunity to showcase the monarchy, as well as the Commonwealth states, in a new way. On the evening of June 2nd, more than 2,800 lights will be switched on across the UK, including some on the tops of the four highest peaks in the country, as well as in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, and in the British Overseas Territories. Lights will also be lit in all 54 commonwealth capitals on five continents.

Hélène de Lauzun studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. She taught French literature and civilization at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in History from the Sorbonne. She is the author of Histoire de l’Autriche (Perrin, 2021).