It’s an event you’re going to hear a lot about in 2022 — Queen Elizabeth II will become the first British monarch to be honored with a Platinum Jubilee, and there’s plenty of pomp and circumstance planned for the big celebration.
But what exactly is being celebrated?
Read on to learn the answer to that question and other details about this historic event.
What is the jubilee?
While any anniversary celebration can be labeled a jubilee, Britain began the formal tradition of celebrating a monarch’s time on the throne by marking King George III’s Golden Jubilee in 1809, just as he approached the 50th year of his reign.
What’s so special about this one?
The Platinum Jubilee recognizes a tremendous milestone for both Elizabeth and for Britain. The upcoming year will be her 70th on the throne. That is the longest reign for any British monarch. The closest any other has ever come to that impressive stretch was Queen Victoria, who, at age 81, had served as monarch for nearly 64 years when she died in 1901.
When is it?
Officially, the Platinum Jubilee begins on Thursday, June 2, and extends to Sunday, June 5. But given the rare nature of this milestone, a variety of celebrations around the theme of the Platinum Jubilee are expected throughout 2022.
What happens over the official four days of festivities?
On the opening day, the queen’s birthday parade, better known as Trooping the Colour, kicks things off. Though the queen will turn 96 in April, this is the real birthday party.
“Over 1,400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians will come together” to take part in the procession, according to the official site for the British royal family. The parade will end as the queen and her family watch the Royal Air Force fly overhead from their view on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
But that's just the start. From there, on day two, a Service of Thanksgiving for the queen's reign will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral. And on day three, Elizabeth, accompanied by family, will attend the Derby at Epsom Downs, before heading back to Buckingham Palace for a star-studded concert.
Finally, on the last day, The Big Lunch takes place, wherein the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth nations throw their own midday parties to celebrate the queen.
It all ends with a Platinum Jubilee Pageant held at Buckingham Palace.
How will this celebration be different than past jubilees?
There's been one constant at the queen's past jubilees. Whether at her Silver (1977), Golden (2002), Diamond (2012) or Sapphire (2017) celebration, Elizabeth always had her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, by her side. The queen quietly marked her Ruby Jubilee in 1992 with a speech and said, "1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure." During that time, Windsor Castle caught fire, and three of her children's marriages fell apart.
Following Philip's death in April, at the age of 99, this will be the first such celebration the queen takes part in without him.
What does the queen have to say about all of this?
In her annual Christmas Day message, the monarch mentioned the upcoming festivities fondly.
She said, "February, just six weeks from now, will see the start of my Platinum Jubilee year, which I hope will be an opportunity for people everywhere to enjoy a sense of togetherness: a chance to give thanks for the enormous changes of the last seventy years — social, scientific and cultural — and also to look ahead with confidence."