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Queen Elizabeth Celebrates Golden Jubilee

50 years on the throne remembered

by David Johnson
Royal Jubilee

British Monarchs Who Ruled for at Least 50 Years

Ruler: Date of Reign:
Henry III 1216–1272
Edward III 1327–1377
George III 1760–1820
Victoria 1837–1901

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Only four other monarchs have ruled Great Britain as long as Queen Elizabeth II. When she assumed the throne in 1952, the British Empire still ruled much of the world and the monarchy remained a highly respected institution. In her reign, Elizabeth has seen major changes. Abroad, the Empire has been dismantled and Britain is no longer a superpower.

Great Britain itself is a very different place. Prominent among the changes has been a sharp decline in British support for the monarchy. A series of scandals in the 1990s involving younger royals has been partly blamed for the drop in public support.

Festivities in June 2002

Known as the Golden Jubilee Weekend, a four-day weekend was created by moving the bank holiday set for May 27, 2002, to Tuesday, June 4, while making June 3 a special holiday.

Classical and pop music concerts were held in the Buckingham Palace gardens, and the queen lit the National Beacon on the Queen Victoria Memorial. A fireworks display followed. On June 4 there was a parade along the Mall, including a procession depicting the 50 years of Elizabeth's reign. Some 455 beacons were lit in her honor across the country.

Royal Visits and Street Parties

The Jubilee year was also marked by royal visits to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Jamaica, and tours of various communities in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

She Became Queen on Feb. 6

Although the queen ascended to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952, the date is remembered with little fanfare because Elizabeth's father, King George VI, died on that day.

Each year Accession Day is marked by raising the Union Flag and gun salutes by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Hyde Park and at the Tower of London.

Five Charities Recognized

In keeping with the low-key tone of the Golden Jubilee festivities, the queen asked that people wishing to commemorate the occasion with a donation consider five of her favorite charities.

The five organizations are: Barnardo's, CRUSE Bereavement Services, I CAN (which helps children with speech and language difficulties), the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, and the Soldier, Sailors, and Air Force Association.

Contributors were also asked to consider the British Commonwealth Ex-Services League, of which Prince Philip is president.

Special Car Presented

The Jubilee was also the occasion for the Queen to receive a new state car, a gift of Bentley Motor Cars. She helped design the vehicle, which is a sportier version of the traditional elegant Bentley model. The state car is painted royal claret and black with red stripes along each side.

The rear door is specially designed so the Queen was able to stand up straight before stepping to the ground as she gets out of the car. There is room for two passengers in the back seat, which is upholstered in high-quality woolen fabric, known as West of England cloth. Two additional passengers can occupy rear-facing pullout seats if necessary.

The car is the fifth official in the royal fleet, which includes a Rolls-Royce Phantom VI, a gift of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders during the queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977. She has three other Rolls-Royces, a 1987 Phantom VI and two Phantom Vs from the 1960s.

Did You Know?

According to Buckingham Palace officials, during her reign, Queen Elizabeth II has:

  • made 251 official overseas visits to 281 different countries
  • met with 10 prime ministers
  • approved 3,135 Acts of Parliament
  • hosted 88 state banquets
  • received 3 million pieces of correspondence
  • conferred 380,000 awards and honors
  • mailed 37,000 Christmas cards
  • sent 100,000 telegrams to centenarians
  • sent 280,000 telegrams to couples celebrating wedding anniversaries
  • entertained over 1 million guests at garden parties
  • launched 17 ships
  • posed for 120 portraits
  • delivered 48 Christmas broadcasts
  • attended 31 Royal Variety Performances
  • owned more than 30 Welsh corgis




Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Did you know?
The worst epidemic in U.S. history was the outbreak of Spanish influenza in 1918.

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