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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.”
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.
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.
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.
– 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.