Written by Laurie Jo Miller Farr
One thing we know for certain is that the monarchy knows how to throw a perfectly orchestrated spectacle. Royal weddings and state funerals come and go, but the throne's Diamond Jubilee is only the second in history and it promises to feature plenty of events for the public to enjoy. Queen Victoria was the only other monarch to mark 60 years on the throne back in 1897.
Ladies headed for England for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 have occasion to get out those hats. Here are ten Diamond Jubilee events worthy of dusting off the fascinator, the boater or the Phllip Treacy creation; or a top hat for the gentleman. Alternatively, a baseball cap will do for some of these parties!
Events before the official weekend
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee year began with an choral evensong at St. Mary Abbots Church by Kensington Palace on February 6, 2012, the anniversary of the passing of King George VI. Monday, March 12 is the multi-faith Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey.
Diamond Jubilee Pageant
Three nights of music, military and equestrian displays from around the world take place in the private grounds at Windsor Castle over May 10, 11 and 13, 2012. 500 horses and 800 performers. Tickets are available online from £30. The Harte & Garter Hotel & Spa in the High Street has views directly over Windsor Castle. From London, Southwest Trains from London's Richmond Station to Windsor leave frequently, take about 45 minutes and cost from £12.90 return (roundtrip).
Parade and Muster
On Saturday, May 19, see more than 2,012 troops from the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force participate in a parade through Windsor town, Windsor Castle, attended by The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, veterans and their families.
And during the official weekend
The official Jubilee Weekend is June 2-5, 2012, an extra long four-day weekend of pageantry and parties throughout the UK to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession. Now, all we need is good weather.
The Queen will attend Epsom on Saturday, June 2. Her love of horse racing is well known and she typically has 20 in training at all times. Look for these royal colors on the flats: purple and scarlet with black trim. Pick up the pink "Racing Post" to read over breakfast, just like the Queen does. Dress code and tickets for the day are online.
Jubilee River Pageant
For certain, a main event is The Jubilee River Pageant is Sunday, June 3. All Commonwealth countries and UK counties were invited to send a vessel to make up the seven-mile, 1,000-strong flotilla sailing at four knots along the Thames. The eight Royal Jubilee Bells will lead on an 88-foot floating bell tower. Royal Marines will set off a fanfare as the newly-constructed gilded Royal Barge, "The Spirit of Chartwell," passes beneath each of 14 London bridges across the Thames. The bell towers in the steeples of numerous churches along the route will chime at once. Handel's "Water Music" by a 22-strong orchestra from a boat, fireworks, 50 giant screens and a million-plus spectators are expected for the largest flotilla in 350 years, since the reign of Charles II in 1662.
The Big Lunch
Sunday, June 3 is The Big Jubilee Lunch. Head for a Royal Park with a hamper or attend one of the many street parties all over the nation. Wherever you are, just join in and consider this a dress up or dress down occasion. The point is to share lunch, share the celebration and to meet new people.
Battersea Park Jubilee Festival
At Battersea Park, Sunday, June 3 from 12 noon to 7 p.m. Music, fun fair, storytelling, jousting, entertainment, family fun, watching the flotilla pass by and a portrait of the Queen made of 3,120 cakes for the number of weeks in her reign. Free and open to the public.
The Diamond Jubilee Concert and Jubilee Beacons
The BBC concert at Buckingham Palace on Bank Holiday Monday, June 4, will only have seating for the 10,000 lucky UK residents chosen by public ballot (closing March 2) for a free ticket to attend the star studded British-themed concert and a picnic lunch in the palace gardens. A huge outdoor stage will be built in front of the palace around the Queen Victoria Memorial to ensure it beats even the Golden Jubilee concert ten years ago. Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Dame Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Cliff Richard are in the lineup. As the Queen lights the National Beacon on the evening of June 4, a network of 2,012 beacons will be lit by communities across the Commonwealth. The website will direct everyone to the nearest Beacon.
St. Paul's Cathedral
Schools and all but essential services are closed today, so all eyes on St. Paul's on Bank Holiday Tuesday, June 5. A Service of Thanksgiving is planned at this glorious venue. A formal carriage procession by The Queen takes place immediately following the service, so the City is the place to be before noon to see the glittering carriages of gold.
At the National Gallery
"The Queen: Art & Image" is a landmark exhibition of 60 portraits of the Queen by famous artists and photographers. On view May 17 through October 21, 2012. Book tickets online at £6 adults, £5 children.
Eat, drink and be merry
The House of Lords has agreed to an extension of licensing hours for the weekend, as done for the first time for the Royal Wedding in 2011. Therefore, bars and pubs with a normal 11 p.m. closing can be extended until 1 a.m. on two consecutive nights, Friday and Saturday, June 1-2.
If you're planning a trip, check back frequently as the official Queen's Diamond Jubilee website is continually updated.
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