Queen’s Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees saw millions party in celebration

The monarch’s major Jubilee milestones inspired nationwide festivities, round-the-world tours, and a flotilla of 1,000 boats down the Thames.

02 June 2022

Over the decades, the Queen’s jubilees have been colourful displays of pageantry, parties and pop concerts, giving the nation the chance to unite in celebration of the monarch and her years of service.

From the flag-festooned street jamborees of 1977 to the star-studded televised concert of 2002 and the river extravaganza of 2012, the Queen’s Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees have been important milestones during her reign.

Diamond Jubilee celebrations
A street party to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at Ashby De La Zouch, Leicestershire in 2012 (PA)

Elizabeth II is the first British monarch to celebrate their Platinum Jubilee – marking 70 years on the throne.

Here is a look back at the Queen’s past jubilees:

– Silver Jubilee in 1977

The Queen’s first jubilee saw her travel 56,000 miles around the world in celebration, journeying from Western Samoa, Australia and New Zealand to Tonga, Fiji, Tasmania, Papua New Guinea, Canada and the West Indies.

Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee – New Zealand
The Queen wearing a cloak of brown kiwi feathers, with Maori warriors at Rugby Park, Gisborne, New Zealand during her Silver Jubilee tour (PA)

Large crowds also turned out to see her on a busy UK tour when she visited 36 counties over 10 weeks to mark 25 years on the throne.

Street parties were held across the country and beacons were lit in her honour.

More than one million flocked to the Mall in London and the Queen travelled in a state coach with the Duke of Edinburgh to St Paul’s Cathedral for a service of thanksgiving.

Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee
The Queen and Philip in the Golden State Coach after leaving Buckingham Palace for St Paul’s Cathedral to attend a service of thanksgiving for the Silver Jubilee in 1977 (PA)

At a Guildhall luncheon, the Queen reiterated the dedication she made at the age of 21 when she pledged to serve her country for life.

There was a River Progress of 140 vessels down the Thames, the opening of the Silver Jubilee Walkway and South Bank Jubilee Gardens, firework displays and a Palace balcony appearance.

The year 1977 saw the Lib-Lab pact, the Grunwick picket clashes, punk rock and Red Rum winning the Grand National for a record third time.

Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee
The Queen and Philip wave to crowds from the balcony with the Prince of Wales, Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Lord Mountbatten, Princess Margaret, Prince Andrew and the Queen Mother (PA)

The Queen, at the age of 51, became a grandmother for the first time with the birth of grandson Peter Phillips.

The Sex Pistols released their anti-authoritarian hit God Save The Queen which was banned from the airwaves.

They promoted it on their own Jubilee boat trip along the Thames which ended in their arrest.

– Ruby Jubilee in 1992

This was the year of the Queen’s 40th anniversary on the throne – but it is better known as her “annus horribilis” – one of the most difficult periods of her reign.

That year, the marriages of three of her four children were in tatters. The Princess Royal divorced, the Duke and Duchess of York separated and the Prince and Princess of Wales were splitting up.

Andrew Morton’s book, Diana: Her True Story, alleged that Diana was deeply unhappy and had attempted suicide.

Then came a devastating fire at Windsor Castle. Public opinion turned against the royals amid fears that taxpayers would have to foot the bill.

Disasters and Accidents – Windsor Castle Fire – Windsor
Windsor Castle on fire in 1992 (PA)

The Queen announced that she would pay tax on her income and cut down the size of the Civil List.

In an unusually personal address at a London Guildhall luncheon in November 1992 to mark her 40th year on the throne, the Queen told guests: “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.”

She added: “In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘annus horribilis’.”

The Queen in 1992
The Queen delivers the speech in which she famously branded 1992 her ‘Annus Horribilis’ (PA)

Commemorations for this jubilee were low key. In October 1992, the Queen and her family attended the “Great Event” – a televised evening of performances at London’s Earl’s Court, and in the summer there was a prime ministerial banquet.

It was also the year of Black Wednesday – the day Britain crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism – and the break-up of Yugoslavia.

– Golden Jubilee in 2002

Just like the Silver Jubilee, people crowded into the Mall and the monarch toured Britain and the Commonwealth.

But there was major difference – the Party at the Palace.

Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee
Brian May from Queen rehearsing on the roof of Buckingham Palace before the concert (PA)

In 2002, more than 12,000 people won tickets to watch an unprecedented pop concert inside the grounds of Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s 50th anniversary.

Highlights included guitarist Brian May blasting out a rock National Anthem from the roof, Sir Paul McCartney leading the cast of stars with The Beatles’ classic Hey Jude, and Dame Edna Everage bellowing “The Jubilee Girl is here, possums,” as the 76-year-old Queen took her seat.

Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh watching fireworks over Buckingham Palace after the monarch lit the central beacon in 2002 (PA)

The Prince of Wales paid tribute to his mother on stage, calling her “Mummy”, and there was a finale of fireworks and a light show over the Palace.

The year had begun with great sadness for the Queen with the deaths of her sister Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother, but despite doubters insisting the Golden Jubilee would be a flop, the event was heralded a success.

Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee
The royal family packed onto the Palace balcony for the celebrations in 2002 (PA)

– Diamond Jubilee in 2012

The Queen is only the second British monarch to reach a Diamond Jubilee – following in the footsteps of her ancestor Queen Victoria.

The Windsors were enjoying a surge of interest after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding.

Diamond Jubilee celebrations
Planes fly overhead during a ceremonial flypast during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations (PA)

But for most of the festivities held in June to mark the head of state’s 60 years on the throne, the Queen was forced to celebrate without Philip at her side.

The duke was taken to hospital with a bladder infection after enduring a wet and windy trip down the Thames during the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant.

More than 1,000 boats including kayaks, Dunkirk ships and dragon boats had taken part, and the Queen, the duke and senior royals travelled on an ornate royal barge, watched by more than 1.25 million spectators who lined the river banks despite the rain.

Diamond Jubilee celebrations – Thames Pageant
The Prince of Wales, Philip, the Queen, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Cambridges and Prince Harry onboard the Spirit of Chartwell during the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant (PA)

The Queen also opened up the Palace gardens to thousands of picnickers, who were presented with special Jubilee hampers.

A pop concert – staged because of the success of the Golden Jubilee show – was held in front of the Palace as well-wishers descended on the Mall once again.

Take That’s Gary Barlow brought in acts such as Stevie Wonder, Kylie Minogue, and a hula-hooping Grace Jones dressed in a PVC leotard. But Philip missed both the concert and a service of thanksgiving.

Diamond Jubilee celebrations – Concert
The Queen is greeted by her son, the Prince of Wales, as she joined performers at the end of the Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace (David Parker/Daily Mail/PA)

During the Silver Jubilee, the Queen circled the globe. But this time the sovereign had turned 86 and such duties fell to the younger generation of royals.

The year also saw London host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and William and Kate announced they were expecting their first child.

– Sapphire Jubilee – 2017

The Queen made history as the first British monarch to reach 65 years on the throne – a Blue Sapphire Jubilee.

But there were no grand festivities, with celebrations reserved for the Platinum Jubilee in 2022, and she spent the day privately at Sandringham.

The Duke of Cambridge visit to China – Day 3
The Duke of Cambridge looking at the David Bailey Portrait of the Queen when it was first displayed (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

Buckingham Palace reissued a David Bailey photograph of the Queen to mark the occasion. She wore a suite of sapphire jewellery given to her by her father George VI as a wedding gift.

Then-prime minister Theresa May hailed the Queen as “truly an inspiration to all of us”, and celebratory stamps and coins were issued.

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