Starting June 2, the UK is throwing a celebration fit for a queen: the Platinum Jubilee. Which marks Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th year on the throne. She's the first British monarch to go platinum. But this isn’t her first jubilee — it’s her sixth. And anyone who’s held down the same job for seven decades deserves a party to say the least. Nonetheless, being the figurehead for 15 countries.
But for those outside the UK, the festivities may seem confusing. After all we don’t jubilee here in the states. So, here are the answers to all your jubilee-related questions. Starting with…
What is a royal jubilee?
A royal jubilee is a big party celebrating a king or queen’s reign. And they only happen when a monarch has ruled for a particular number of years. Each one is associated with a type of precious material. Think: Silver for 25 years, gold for 50, diamond for 60, and platinum for 70.
These shindigs date back to the 1300s. But the first major one celebrated King George III’s Golden Jubilee in 1809. Few other monarchs have reached a 50-year reign. And only one other than Queen Elizabeth II has achieved a Diamond Jubilee (shoutout to Queen Victoria).
How will it be celebrated?
Many countries have already gotten a head start. Since the beginning of the year, the Commonwealth has been celebrating with charity events, music performances, parties, and more. The festivities will continue through the rest of 2022. But Jubilee Weekend — which lasts from June 2 to June 5 — is when they’ll really be throne-ing it down. Most of the events will be broadcasted on BBC for viewers in the states. But here’s a peek at what to expect on…
Thursday, June 2
Trooping the Colour: Aka a huge parade in London celebrating the Queen’s official birthday. (Note: Queen Elizabeth's birthday is actually in April. So it's a celebration of her fake birthday. And she's not the only monarch to do it. For centuries, monarchs have used that day to signify their birthdays.) It ends with a fly-over by the UK’s Royal Air Force — which the Royal Family watches from the iconic Buckingham Palace balcony.
Platinum Jubilee beacons: More than 1,500 beacons (aka giant torches) will be lit across the UK. Unifying the 15 countries that make up the Commonwealth. And during a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace, the main beacon (aka the Principal beacon) will be lit.
Friday, June 3
Service of Thanksgiving: Held at St Paul's Cathedral. Great Paul, the country's largest church bell, will ring for the service. Most of the royal fam will attend the event (including Meghan Markle and Prince Harry).
Saturday, June 4
Derby at Epsom Downs: The annual horse racing event has been around since the 1700s. And typically falls in June. But since it coincides with the jubilee, the Royal Family will attend as a part of the Queen’s festivities.
Platinum Party at the Palace: A live concert in front of Buckingham Palace. The lineup is super casual: Alicia Keys, Diana Ross, Duran Duran, Sir Elton John, Sir Rod Stewart, and Queen (the band…not Elizabeth).
Sunday, June 5
Platinum Jubilee Pageant: A carnival meets street art, theater, and music. The event is a big ‘thank you’ to the Queen’s many years of service. Special guests will include Ed Sheeran and the royal corgis — of course.
Big Jubilee Lunches: More than 60,000 people have registered to host Big Jubilee Lunches over the weekend. By registering, you get a Big Lunch “starter pack” with party ideas, recipes, and invitations for your event. Which will vary from back garden barbecues to world record attempts for the longest street party. And will happen throughout the country. Plus, pubs, bars, and nightclubs can stay open until 1am (two hours later than normal).
Who is attending?
Most of the royal family is expected to be there. But a few are opting out of the Buckingham Palace photo op. Like...
Harry and Meghan. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have laid low since stepping back as senior members of the royal family. That was before their controversial Oprah interview. Even though they won’t be on the balcony, they will be in attendance at some other festivities.
Prince Andrew. Aka the Queen's second-oldest son stepped down from royal duties after a (now settled) sex abuse case. And his links to the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his now incarcerated ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell.
Who people will miss: The late Prince Philip. Who passed away in 2021. This will be the Queen’s first jubilee without her husband by her side.
Why is the Platinum Jubilee in June?
Royal jubilees are typically held on the anniversary of the monarch taking the crown. But that’s a little sensitive, since Queen Elizabeth’s ascension date is also the day her father (King George VI) died. Technically, she became Queen on Feb. 6, 1952. But her coronation didn't happen until June 2, 1953. Many factors went into that decision, but one being out of respect for her father. For that same reason, her jubilees have also been held in June. It’s also a significantly better time weather-wise in Britain.
Despite the royal family’s tumultuous family dynamic, the UK is coming together to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s record 70-year reign — a rare and historic milestone. The monarch has been a longstanding rock for the Commonwealth. Standing strong through wars, economic challenges, scandals, tragedy, and decades of change.
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