When it came to celebrations, the Victorians knew how to do it with maximum pomp and some serious circumstance. In particular, any celebration related to the British monarchy was always attended with maximum fanfare. They still are, in fact. How many of us tuned in recently to watch the lavish and romantic wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton?
It’s good to be king. Or a prince, for that matter. And, as a monarch, what could be a better reason to celebrate than to mark the fact that you have held the British throne longer than any other king or queen? In June of 1897, Queen Victoria did just that. She and the rest of Britain celebrated her Diamond Jubilee to mark sixty years on the throne.
How did they celebrate? For starters, Queen Victoria rode in a lovely carriage pulled by cream-colored horses in a grand processional that went from Buckingham Palace, through London, and ended at St. Paul’s Cathedral. At seventy-eight years old, the queen found it difficult to walk and it was decided the service should be held outside so that she did not have to maneuver the cathedral’s steps. After the cathedral, a lavish luncheon was held at Buckingham Palace for royals and dignitaries.
Over the two days of the Jubilee, various celebrations were held throughout the country and Queen Victoria made several official visits where she gave out medals, listened to school children sing, and was presented with a poem written for her by England's poet laureate of the time. Bonfires were lit around the country and it is difficult to imagine that anyone failed to join in the celebration.
Queen Victoria seemed to confirm this when she wrote in her diary of her processional and the air of celebration she witnessed.:
“No one ever, I believe, has met with such an ovation as was given to me, passing through those 6 miles of streets, including Constitution Hill. The crowds were quite indescribable and their enthusiasm truly marvellous and deeply touching. The cheering was quite deafening and every face seemed to be filled with joy.”
Wish you could share in the pomp and jubilation of a Diamond Jubilee but don't have a time machine handy? You’re in luck! There is another British monarch who has sat on the throne for sixty years. Hint: She is also a woman.
This year Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubiliee. Take even a quick peek at British newspapers right now and you’ll see that folks are pretty excited about the second Diamond Jubilee. Though the central weekend for celebrations will be June 2-5, there are also events and visits planned by Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family throughout the year. Remember, this is also a very special year for London because the Olympics will be kicking off there soon.
Lots to celebrate in Britain!
You can find out more about QueenElizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee here. If you’re a lover of history, Victorian in particular, you can find out more about Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee here.
You can even watch footage of Queen Victoria’s processional!
Which official celebration, inauguration, or the like, now or in the past, would you like to attend? Personally, I'd love to witness a royal wedding first hand.