England celebrates 60 years of reign


Photo Credit: Alysha Tsuji

LONDON, ENGLAND — Imagining an American president in office for a span of 60 years seems unfathomable. However, when it happens in the Great Britain monarchical system, it’s a cause for great celebration.

This year marks Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th year on the throne, and the people of England are definitely celebrating. The feat of a Diamond Jubilee hasn’t happened in 115 years, and is only the second in the country’s history.

“In America there’s the fourth of July every year, and people know the appropriate amount of patriotism to have,” long time London resident and US citizen James Hicks said. “But here [in England] this doesn’t happen often, so people go crazy when it does. It’s a lot of fun, though.”

England flags line the main streets of London, commemorative tins are made and the Queen’s face is everywhere. In short, she’s a rock star, and that is no exaggeration.

The specific Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend was from June 2 through June 5. The Monday and Tuesday during that time were marked as bank holidays, and many people either took all the days off from work, or were given the days off in order to join the festivities.

The first day, the Queen made an appearance at the Epsom Derby where she watched the horse races from a special box. Many people, including a few of my friends, went to the races in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Queen, which they did.

The second day consisted of—arguably—the main event: The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. 1,000 boats cruised down the Thames as a reported one million spectators lined the Thames river.

Photo Credit: Alysha Tsuji

Basically, the celebration was a time in which everyone was simply trying to catch a glance of Queen Elizabeth II—I can tell you it was nearly impossible. By the time the Queen sailed past, every single space along the entire river was fi

lled on both sides from Tower Bridge down to just past Battersea Bridge. The off-and-on down pouring of rain didn’t stop anyone.
I ended up snagging a ticket to the Battersea Park Festival, which included food vendors, clothing booths and a cake section. The 200-acre park was jam-packed and the “queues” were endless, but it was fun to see the spirit and sincere excitement everyone had in support of the Queen’s seemingly everlasting reign.The streets lining the river and well inland were also closed to compensate for the thousands of people walking to and from the river all day.

On Monday, the third day, a concert was held in front of Buckingham Palace with artists varying in genre from pop to opera. Some of my favorites included Jessie J, Will.i.am, Ed Sheeran, Stevie Wonder, Lang Lang and Sir Paul McCartney.

Tickets to the concert were sold to locals only, but screens were set up in Hyde Park for free viewing. A fireworks display was also fired off into the night after the concert ended.

Photo Credit: Alysha Tsuji

Finally, Tuesday finished with a Carriage Procession from the Palace of Westminster to Buckingham Palace as people lined the streets to watch. Culminating the weekend of celebration, the Queen’s graced London with her classic balcony appearance, the British armed forces executed a fly by and the Queen’s guard demonstrated a feu de joie, which is “a cascade of rifle fire interspersed by the national anthem,” according to the UK news source the Guardian.

The day after the weekend of merriment, everyone went back to work, and London daily life went back to normal as streets were reopened and Tube stations emptied out. And though the majority of the England flags remain up, no one’s walking around in British flag suits or with painted faces anymore.

I don’t quite fully understand the British culture having spent six weeks here thus far, but one thing is now crystal clear to me: a significant majority of the English people love their Queen—proudly and unashamedly so.

Photo Credit: Alysha Tsuji

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Comments

  1. great article!

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