Pageantry and pomp: the Platinum Jubilee

This year, Queen Elizabeth II will become the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, following seven decades of service. For such a momentous occasion, there can be no doubt Britons will go all out when it comes to spectacle for these celebrations. With this in mind, we have created a guide to some of the standout moments to come, while also discussing the controversies surrounding them.

‘Trooping the Colour’ – 2nd June 2022, Buckingham Palace 

A parade which has marked the birthday of the British Sovereign for over 260 years, ‘Trooping the Colour’ is an impressive ceremonial display, rooted in tradition. It will feature over 1,400 officers and soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians, marching straight from Buckingham Palace through towards the Horse Guards Parade. The streets will be lined with waving flags, while the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fires a 41-gun in salute at Green Park. It will all end gracefully with the royals admiring a traditional RAF fly-past from their Buckingham Palace balcony. Safe to say, it is British pageantry at its finest.

Safe to say, it is British pageantry at its finest

Such a picture-perfect ceremony has been charged with promoting militarism – representing a ‘classic case of obnoxious jingoism’ complete with aggressive solider marches, loud gun fires and colourful flags celebrating the Queen’s reign – but this accusation is too harsh. Yes, the parade will undeniably flaunt military power by displaying the regalia of military triumph, reviving and glorifying a conflict which came at a severe cost.

However, these are simply the trappings of the sovereign born in an age accustomed to military conflict. From her perspective, this militaristic parade is merely a standard procedure for commemorating her reign. This may well be altered when Prince William is crowned King, where the celebrations will look to speak to a younger demographic, but for now, it remains an essential procedure to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Towns and cities across the country will burst into an array of reds, whites, and blues

The Big Jubilee Lunch – 2nd until 5th June 2022

Yet, one does not have to travel into the mobbed streets of central London to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – plenty will be taking place within the comfort of our own neighbourhoods. Having graced the nation with a four-day bank holiday, the Queen has made it inexcusable to turn town an invitation to a street party this June, whether for a picnic or just an afternoon tea in the garden to commemorate her reign.

With Britons being encouraged to ‘share friendship, food and fun with neighbours’, we can surely expect streets to be adorned with union-jack plates, cups, tablecloths, hats and food. Towns and cities across the country will burst into an array of reds, whites, and blues, this event will not only be a celebration of the Queen’s reign, but the resilience and support of the community during the last few rollercoaster years. With the sun hopefully bursting through the clouds that always love to ruin our summer festivities, I fully expect this celebration to be one filled with laughter, scrumptious food, and fun!

Platinum Party at the Palace – 2nd June 2022, Buckingham Palace

Set to be broadcast across the nation by the BBC, this spectacular live concert, which will feature “the world’s biggest entertainment stars”, is perhaps the most accessible spectacle currently planned for the Jubilee. Staged at the prestigious royal residence in Buckingham, specific performers are yet to be announced, but look certain to be high-profile given the occasion. For those who would prefer to attend the event rather than watching from the comfort of their own homes, applications for tickets are opening up in February.

While announcements are still rather limited at the moment, the event essentially looks like it will be a more glamorous version of the concerts staged in the past for events like the New Year, combined with the pomp of the ‘Last Night of the Proms’, so in other words, it should be essential viewing. While other planned events have been criticised for grandeur, exclusivity, and reviving memories of controversial episodes in Britain’s history, the ‘Platinum Party’ will likely be an indulgence which the whole nation can share in. With the Derby at Epsom Downs and other classical and pop-themed concerts scheduled earlier that day – the 4th of June may just turn out be the most dazzling day of the entire Platinum Jubilee.

An exciting opportunity for the community to pay tribute to the queen together

Platinum Jubilee Beacons – 2nd until 5th June 2022, Buckingham Palace

More than 1,500 beacons will be lit throughout the UK and its territories to commemorate this landmark in royal history. As it is the Platinum Jubilee, the ceremonial process has been introduced into each capital city of the Commonwealth countries too. Beacon lighting is an exciting opportunity for the community to pay tribute to the queen together and enjoy the warmth of a bonfire. Durham’s scheduled beacon is to be in Wharton Park where its flame will be visible from across the whole city.

While beacons have a long history as a useful signaling and navigation tool, it’s a legacy that maybe feels misplaced in the current day. As an environmentally-conscious society, the burning of thousands of bonfires can feel excessive. A preference may be for the tradition to be adapted for a more environmentally friendly option such as LED lights or illuminated shows. While the process of lighting a beacon, and all its wonderful associated imagery is an integral part of the celebrations – there is certainly the troubling feeling that more should be done to update these traditions to modern times.

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