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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.