Past Jubilees

Royal Jubilees: an introduction

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Find out more about Royal Jubilees, including who celebrated them and how

– The concept of a Jubilee originates from the Bible. In the New Testament, Jesus presents himself as the One who brings the old Jubilee to completion, because he has come to ‘preach the year of the Lord’s favour‘ (Isaiah 61: 1-2)

–  George III was the first British Monarch to celebrate a Jubilee, as we do today, when he celebrated his Golden Jubilee in 1809. The main day of celebration was 25 October and was marked by a private service in Windsor, attended by The King and other memebers of the Royal Family, and then with a grand fete and firework display at Frogmore.

– Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 1887, where more than 30 foreign Kings and Princes came to pay homage to her in a procession, escorted by troops of soilders, through London, which according to Mark Twain ‘stretched to the limit of sight in both directions‘. There was a Royal Banquet, a procession to Westminster Abbey and a fireworks display in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

– Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and was marked with a Royal Procession, led by The Queen in a horse drawn carriage, through London on 22 June. They started at Buckingham Palace, then onto St Paul’s Cathedral for a short outside service of thanksgiving, continuing via the Mansion House across London Bridge and through South London, before returning over Westminster Bridge, past the Houses of Parliament back to Buckingham Palace.

Of the day, The Queen wrote in her diary:

‘No one ever, I believe, has met with such an ovation as was given to me, passing through those 6 miles of streets… The cheering was quite deafening and every face seemed to be filled with real joy. I was much moved and gratified.’

–  George V celebrated his Silver Jubilee in 1935, with the month long celebrations including; official receptions, loyal addresses, street parties and a thanksgiving service at St Paul’s where, according to The King’s diary, the temperature was 75ºF in the shade and there were ‘the greatest number of people in the streets that I have ever seen‘. The King was reported to have said ‘I am beginning to think they must really like me for myself”.

–  The earliest known English commemorative souvenir marking a Royal event dates back to the Restoration of Charles II as King in 1660, followed by his Coronation in 1661 and wedding in 1662.

–  Special issue coins were first used to mark a Royal Jubilee for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887.

–  The first stamps issued for a Royal were to mark Queen Victoria’s 1887 Golden Jubilee.

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