The Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II marked the 25th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the thrones of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms. It was celebrated with large-scale parties and parades throughout the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth throughout 1977, culminating in June with the official "Jubilee Days", held to coincide with the Queen's Official Birthday. The anniversary date itself was commemorated in church services across the land on 6 February 1977, and continued throughout the month. In March, preparations started for large parties in every major city of the United Kingdom, as well as for smaller ones for countless individual streets throughout the country.
National and international goodwill visits
No monarch before Queen Elizabeth II had visited more of the United Kingdom in such a short span of time (the trips lasted three months). All in all, the Queen and her husband Prince Philip visited a total of 36 counties. The trip started with record crowds gathering to see the Queen and Prince Philip in Glasgow, Scotland, on 17 May. After moving to England (where a record one million spectators came to greet the couple in Lancashire) and Wales, the Queen and Prince Philip wrapped up the first of their trips with a visit to Northern Ireland. Among the places visited during the national trips were numerous schools, which were the subject of a television special hosted by presenter Valerie Singleton.
Later in the summer, the Queen and Prince Philip embarked on a Commonwealth visit that first brought them to island nations such as Fiji and Tonga, following up with longer stints in New Zealand and Australia, with a final stop in Papua New Guinea before going on to the British holdings in the West Indies. The final stop on the international tour was a trip to Canada, in which Prince Charles joined the couple to greet the crowds.
June celebrations in London
On 6 June, the Queen lit a bonfire beacon at Windsor Castle, the light of which spread across the night in a chain of other beacons throughout the whole country. On 7 June, crowds lined the route of the procession to St Paul's Cathedral, where the royal family attended a Service of Thanksgiving alongside many world leaders, including United States President Jimmy Carter, and Prime Minister James Callaghan as well as all of the living former Prime Ministers (Harold Macmillan, The Lord Home of the Hirsel, Sir Harold Wilson and Edward Heath). The service was followed by lunch in the Guildhall, hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London Peter Vanneck. At the reception, the Queen was quoted as saying:
|“||When I was twenty-one I pledged my life to the service of our people and I asked for God's help to make good that vow. Although that vow was made in my salad days, when I was green in judgement, I do not regret nor retract one word of it.||”|
After the luncheon, the procession continued down The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where an estimated one million people lined the pavements to see the family wave to onlookers. A further 500 million people around the Commonwealth watched the day's events on live television. On 7 June, streets and villages threw elaborate parties for all their residents, and many streets strung bunting (the little flags were usually modelled in pattern after the Union Flag) from rooftop to rooftop across the street. In addition to parties, many streets decorated motor vehicles as historical events from Britain's past, and drove them about town, organising their very own parades. In London alone there were over 4000 organised parties for individual streets and neighbourhoods. Throughout the entire day, onlookers were greeted by the Queen many times as she made several appearances for pictures from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
On 9 June, the Queen made a Royal Progress trip via boat up the River Thames from Greenwich to Lambeth, in a re-enactment of the famous progresses taken by Queen Elizabeth I. On the trip, the Queen officially opened the Silver Jubilee Walkway and the South Bank Jubilee Gardens, two of numerous places named after the festivities. In the evening, she presided over a fireworks display and was taken subsequently by a procession of lighted carriages to Buckingham Palace, where she greeted onlookers yet again from her balcony.
The Jubilee in popular culture
Before, during, and after the events of Jubilee, the event was addressed in many media of popular culture throughout the Commonwealth.
On 7 June, Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren and the record label Virgin arranged to charter a private boat and have the Sex Pistols perform while sailing down the River Thames, passing Westminster Pier and the Houses of Parliament. The event, a mockery of the Queen's river procession planned for two days later, ended in chaos. Police launches forced the boat to dock, and constabulary surrounded the gangplanks at the pier. While the band members and their equipment were hustled down a side stairwell, McLaren, Vivienne Westwood, and many of the band's entourage were arrested.
With the official UK record chart for Jubilee week about to be released, the Daily Mirror predicted that "God Save the Queen" by the British punk rock band the Sex Pistols would be number one. As it turned out, the controversial record placed second, behind a Rod Stewart single in its fourth week at the top. Many believed that the record had actually qualified for the top spot, but that the chart had been rigged to prevent a spectacle. McLaren later claimed that CBS Records, which was distributing both singles, told him that the Sex Pistols were actually outselling Stewart two to one. There is evidence that an exceptional directive was issued by the British Phonographic Institute, which oversaw the chart-compiling bureau, to exclude sales from record-company operated shops such as Virgin's for that week only.
On 6 and 7 June, Queen finished their A Day at the Races Tour by playing two concerts at Earls Court, London to commemorate the Jubilee. The concerts also saw the band use a lighting rig in the shape of a crown for the first time.
The soap opera Coronation Street wrote an elaborate Jubilee parade into the storyline, having Rovers' Return Inn manager Annie Walker dress up in elaborate costume as Elizabeth I. Ken Barlow and "Uncle Albert" played Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing respectively. The Jubilee also figured into the time-travel storyline of a 1983 Doctor Who story, Mawdryn Undead.
Various places were named after the Jubilee. The under-construction Fleet line of the London Underground was renamed the Jubilee line, and given a silver line colour, though it did not open until 1979. Other places named after the Jubilee were the Silver Jubilee Walkway and the Jubilee Gardens in South Bank, London. The Silver Jubilee Bridge – connecting Runcorn and Widnes across the Mersey – was also renamed in honour of this jubilee.
Apart from names, the Jubilee also saw the borough of Derby granted the status of a city. Australian artist, Paul Fitzgerald, was commissioned to complete the only official portrait of the Queen during the Silver Jubilee year. Similar parties and parades were planned for the Golden Jubilee in 2002.
For the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2012, a 100 m (330 ft) by 70 m (230 ft) print of a photograph of the British Royal Family taken during her Silver Jubilee celebrations at Buckingham Palace was erected in front of the Sea Containers House under renovation.
A round silver pendant, designed by the then newly-retired English rower, John Pinches, was issued by Franklin Mint in 1977 to commemorate the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee. The double-sided oval pendant has a distinctive design incorporating the four emblems of the countries of the United Kingdom: the Tudor rose for England, daffodils for Wales, thistles for Scotland and shamrocks for Northern Ireland.
Around the edges of the pendant can be seen Silver Jubilee 1977, (C) JP 77 P and a full hallmark: JP (maker's mark for John Pinches), 925, London Assay Office mark for imported silver, date stamp C (for year 1977) and queen's head (for silver jubilee year).
- Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal
- Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II
- Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II
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- Whitfield, David (3 April 2019). "Freddie Mercury's sister Kashmira on the success of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' - and what happened when the Queen legend used to visit her in Nottingham". Nottingham Post. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
- Hilburn, Robert (20 December 1978). "Pop Music Review: Putting Queen in Audio Seat Queen for a Night". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
- "An Australian paints the Queen". The Australian Women's Weekly. 15 June 1977. p. 4. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- Huge 100-metre-wide photograph of the Royal Family unfurled by River Thames to mark Queen's Jubilee