Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Sapphire Queen: Elizabeth II's landmarks, the Silver Jubilee

The first of many landmarks in the long reign of Elizabeth II - the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977
(photo credit Tyne & Wear Archives & Museum via Wiki Commons)

Elizabeth II breaks yet another record this week as she becomes the first British monarch ever to celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee. On 6th February 2017, the Queen will have reigned for 65 years. It's another landmark in the epic rule of Elizabeth II and while the day itself will be marked quietly, it will claim a place in history all of its own.  Every day in the countdown to this epic milestone, there will be a look back at some of the other landmarks of this record breaking reign starting with the Silver Jubilee, the first major milestone of Elizabeth II, the Sapphire Queen.

Anticipation for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 was huge and events took place across the year. It all started with an official photograph with crown. Well, it was the first Silver Jubilee in over forty years and everyone loves a bit of sparkle.

The Silver Jubilee was marked with a series of tours including an intensive and record breaking series of visits around the UK throughout the spring and summer months.  Millions of people turned out to see the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh with bunting out and flags being waved. There were all kinds of T-shirts, tea towels and memorabilia made and the nation, recovering from a dip in the economy, was ready to party.

There were also Commonwealth tours at either end of the year, starting with stops in Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea in the first months of 1977.

We've got used to them now but in 1977 this was still a novelty. The main Jubilee celebrations started with the lighting of a string of bonfires.

Those days in June saw Jubilee mania take over the country with the Queen's picture everywhere and flags and bunting decking the streets.

The main events of national celebration took place in London with the Silver Jubilee Bank Holiday falling on June 7th 1977. The streets were packed as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh rode through the crowds in the Gold State Coach.  


A  service at St Paul's Cathedral gave thanks for the Queen's reign and the support of the Duke of Edinburgh, at her side throughout

There were walkabouts throughout the day with the Queen in a pink outfit that was iconic before midnight had even struck to get the next part of the party started.


No Jubilee is complete without a balcony appearance and there were more massive crowds waiting to greet the Queen and her family at this high point in the Silver Jubilee celebrations.

The Queen carried out hundreds of engagements during this first big Jubilee year with appearances at major cultural events throughout the country. She made a rare appearance in the Royal Box at Wimbledon where she watched Virgina Wade claim the Ladies Singles title in a match featuring a ridiculous amount of cardigans. 

This was very much a people's Jubilee with street parties across the land celebrating the Queen's reign and looking forward to many more years to come.

The second part of the Commonwealth tour took place in the autumn of 1977 when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Canada and the Caribbean. But there was no time to tarry - they had to get home for a very big event that put the icing on their royal Jubilee cake. 

The year was rounded off with the arrival of the first grandchild for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Princess Anne gave birth to a son, Peter Phillips, on November 15th. His christening, on December 22nd 1977, ensured the year ended on a right royal high. The Silver Jubilee was a huge success, a cultural landmark in the country's history. Most people of a certain age can remember everything about it - it was a special time for the Queen and her people but it was only just the beginning of the milestones in the reign of Elizabeth II.

Tomorrow, another landmark in the epic reign of Elizabeth II, the Sapphire Queen.

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