A TALE OF TWO JUBILEES
Queen Elizabeth II had her Silver Jubilee in 1977 and her Golden Jubilee in 2002. However this one is that bit more special as she is only the second British Monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee, the first being her great great grandmother Queen Victoria in 1897.
remains the longest serving British Monarch in history and to beat
her reign Queen Elizabeth II needs to remain on the throne for almost four
more years. The queen’s mother lived to be 101. Hopefully, the daughter will
live longer and beat Victoria’s
Compared to the prolonged pageantry of
Diamond Jubilee celebrations this June weekend party for Elizabeth II may appear
a subdued affair and understandably so. Whereas the former was Her Imperial
Majesty the latter is plain and simple Her Majesty. As well as being the Queen
of England and Wales, Victoria
was also the first monarch to use the title Empress of India.
Her reign (1837-1901) was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire where the sun never set. These were
hugely eventful years, from the abolition of slavery to the Boer War. Britain was rid of the spectre of
Napoleon and the Industrial Revolution was in full swing. Her colonies supplied
the raw material and absorbed the finished products making the country rich and
prosperous. Her period witnessed significant social and economic change at home.
Her strict moral code made her an iconic figure. The term Victorian morality is
often used to describe the ethos of the period.
wish the Jubilee was celebrated as a festival of the British
Empire. The procession in which the queen participated included
troops from each British colony and dependency, together with soldiers sent by
Indian princes and chiefs (who were subordinate to Victoria as the Empress of India). The
Diamond Jubilee celebration was an occasion marked by great outpourings of
affection for the septuagenarian queen, who was by then confined to a
wheelchair. Festivities were replicated in all her colonies, titles were
bestowed and several existing and new magnificent monuments carried her name.
Queen Victoria remains the most commemorated
British monarch in history, with statues to her erected throughout the British Empire and several places and
magnificent monuments named after her. They are one too many. Victoria Province
in Australia, Lake Victoria
in Africa and Victoria Terminal railway station
in Mumbai are by way of illustration. India celebrated the Jubilee with
full gusto and several institutions and magnificent structures were created
bearing her name; most of them still survive.
In the case of Elizabeth II the pull of history has been the other way highlighting the demise of
Britain as a
great global power. If Victoria had an Empire
Elizabeth is the ceremonial head of a democratic Commonwealth
of Nations. The 1956 Suez crisis
revealed, with humiliating clarity, the limited postwar geopolitical capacity
of the United Kingdom.
As decolonisation ground on, culminating in the 1997 handover of Hong Kong, the tides of empire came back to these shores.
All is not lost though. She continues to be the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign
states (known as the Commonwealth realms) as well as head of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations. She is Supreme Governor of the Church of
England and, in some of her realms, carries the title Defender of
the Faith as part of her full title.
The queen seems to have more than made up for the loss of her territory by enjoying enormous goodwill of her subjects. After a rocky period including the death of Princess Diana in 1997 and Prince Charles’ dalliance with a much older woman, today's royals are resurgent in
A recent poll shows that 80 per cent of Britons want the country to remain a
monarchy. No wonder therefore that at all her programmes during the official
Jubilee Weekend. people turned out in large numbers despite foul weather and
cheered her all the way. The four-day national jubilee holiday from 2nd
to 5th June (not at the Queen’s express wish, unlike Victoria) began on Sunday with
the Queen indulging in her love of horse racing at the famed Epsom Derby horse
race, where she was greeted by enthusiastic, flag-waving crowds. Later the same
day she joined a spectacular flotilla of 1,000 boats for a dazzling display of
British pageantry on London's
River Thames. Music ranging from the national anthem and chiming bells to
Bollywood tunes and the famous James Bond theme blared from boats Thousands of
people lined the river in an atmosphere, in spite of heavy rain, of enjoyment
and excitement. On the long ceremonial sail down the Thames
on board the magnificently decorated barge Spirit of Chartwell stood the
86-year old monarch throughout, waving in response... On Monday evening, again,
thousands of people stood in the Mall, in front of ,
to listen to the concert in honour of Her Majesty. Such pageantry in the face
of groaning economy was lapped up by her subjects rubbishing cynical comments
by anti-monarchists and doom-sayers. And this was only the start of a series of
national events this summer which have got British pride swelling up to
tremendous proportions. Wait for the Buckingham Palace London
Olympics. Did the government decide to host the event with the Diamond Jubilee
Several nations around the world, for example
Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean
countries are celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of their constitutional monarch. The
celebrations include parades, concerts, and community get-together’s on all
scales, from small community picnics to enormous events for thousands of
people. In Canada
a new commemorative medal has been created to mark the 60th anniversary of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne as Queen of Canada.
During the year of celebrations, 60 000 deserving Canadians will be recognized.
the Perth Mint has released 60 one-kilogram gold coins in honour of Queen
Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. The mint is also releasing 600 silver coins.
The coins will be Australian legal tender.
Unlike the first Elizabethans the people who exemplify the age of the current monarch may not be defined as poets and adventurers. The modern Elizabethan era will however be remembered for the ethnic, racial and religious transformation of
Elizabeth II has seen Victoria’s
empire transformed into Commonwealth and her country remade into a more modern
kind of world power, in finance and the arts, democracy and diplomacy. The
House of Lords may soon become an elected body. Despite the transformation of
culture and class, the erosion of her economy, the end of deference and a
distinctive sense of Britishness, the country has maintained a strong sense of
national pride and self-belief in which the queen herself is bound up. If the
proposal to rename the historic Big Ben in London
as the goes through, it will be well
deserved. Elizabeth Tower
Dr. Sudhir Kumar Jha
(The author is a former Director General of Police,
Bihar and a