THE Queen’s Diamond
Jubilee weekend is almost upon us. Here, Stephen McGinty guides us through the main events
‘YOUR job,” the Queen’s private secretary Martin Charteris once told her, “is to spread a carpet of happiness.” Over this weekend such a resplendent red carpet will roll out across the United Kingdom, as the public, with an extra day’s holiday to enjoy, gears up for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. There will be feasting and fireworks, song and dance, bonfires and the largest flotilla of boats, both old and new, to grace the Thames in decades.
For 60 years Queen Elizabeth II has served as a living embodiment of the United Kingdom, an arduous task but one which she has performed with dignity even through some dark days. As she said, five years before she even came to the throne: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” Her life has indeed been long and her service dedicated and those who know her well insist that she still holds the words of Martin Charteris to heart.
Here, we take a look at what the “carpet of happiness” includes this weekend.
SATURDAY: EPSOM DERBY
THE Queen’s love of horses and horse racing is boundless. This, after all, is a woman who starts the day with a thorough read of the Racing Post, so no Diamond Jubilee would be complete without a suitable equestrian event. Her Majesty will attend the Derby at Epsom, where she will be joined by an estimated crowd of 200,000 as well as Katherine Jenkins, who will serenade her with the National Anthem. The Red Arrows will streak across the sky, leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke, and those unable to catch a glimpse of the Queen in person can visit a large photographic display at the racetrack, documenting her 60 years on the throne. The Queen, however, is most looking forward to the main race, which is scheduled to start at 4pm. Could she pick the winner? Probably, but she never bets.
SUNDAY: THE THAMES PAGEANT
THE highlight of the Diamond Jubilee is expected to be a maritime pageant, in which over 1,000 boats and ships, both traditional and modern, will escort the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh down seven miles of the Thames. The Queen and the Duke will sail on a specially built and sumptuously decorated barge, and will be able to listen to a musical accompaniment provided by ten different barges, carrying a range of orchestras and choirs from around Britain. Over one million people are expected to line the banks of the Thames, from Hammersmith Bridge to Tower Bridge, for the event that begins at 2 pm. Sailing at a steady speed of four knots down the seven miles of river, the Pageant is so large that it is expected to take over 75 minutes to pass any given spot. The BBC will erect big screens to transmit the event live in 22 sites across Britain, including Edinburgh’s Festival Square.
SUNDAY: BIG JUBILEE LUNCH
BANQUETING has always been a popular pursuit of kings and queens, but the social aspect of communal feasting has been pushed to the fore with the Big Jubilee Lunch, which aims to encourage neighbours and friends to hold street parties across Britain. While England and Wales are holding over 9,500 events, Scotland is expected to hold just over 100 events, with Edinburgh staging 15 street parties and the Borders busy with 55 events, including six street parties. The idea for The Big Lunch was first dreamt up by the Eden Project in 2009 with a view to improving contact between neighbours by encouraging them to host an annual lunch in their street.
MONDAY: THE PALACE CONCERT
WHILE the Queen is more a fan of Downton Abbey than The X Factor, she appreciates that the celebrations can’t all be horse racing and nautical pageants and her 60 years on the throne will also be marked by a host of pop stars belting out their favourite tracks in front of Buckingham Palace. The concert, organised the BBC and Gary Barlow, of Take That, will be attended by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and a number of other younger Royals. Tickets for the concert were issued to the public by ballot and guests will enjoy a jubilee picnic in the grounds of Buckingham Palace Gardens in the afternoon before the concert starts at 7.30 pm. Among the performers are Shirley Bassey, Jools Holland, Jessie J, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Cliff Richard, Lang Lang, Madness and Paul McCartney.
MONDAY: JUBILEE BEACONS
A RIPPLE of flame will sweep across Britain on Monday in what promises one of the most moving elements of the Jubilee celebrations. At 10pm, 2,012 beacons will be lit across the British Isles, with hundreds more in various countries around the world. The highest points of the British Isles will be illuminated, with a beacon being set alight at the top of Ben Nevis, and the most distant beacon from London will be lit in Unst in Shetland. Sixty beacons will bet lit along the length of Hadrian’s Wall. Once a form of communication and now a symbol of unity, beacons have long been a part of royal celebrations with a whole series lit in 1897 for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The last beacon, or National Beacon, will be lit by the Queen at 10.30pm, triggering a massive firework display over Buckingham Palace.
TUESDAY: SERVICE AND PROCESSION
THOUGH often overlooked in the daily round of ribbon cutting and hand shaking, the Christian faith of the Queen has been the bedrock of her last six decades of service, and the Diamond Jubilee will be marked with a thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral. The service will be led by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and will include a special prayer for the Queen. Afterwards there will be two receptions and a lunch at Westminster Hall, followed by a carriage procession in back to Buckingham Palace. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will be in one carriage, following by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in a second, with a third and final carriage carrying the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Once the Royal Family have returned to Buckingham Palace they will appear on the balcony and watch a flypast by the RAF.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 21 C
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Wind direction: South
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