The flags were hanging everywhere and the bunting was covering everything so London was ready for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a massive party to celebrate 60 years on the throne.
Where to start? There was so much going on it was amazing and I was lucky enough to go to these fun events: private garden party in Notting Hill; River Pageant from the Tower of London; and the Jubilee procession from a seat in front of Buckingham Palace. It’s going to be a long blog…….!
Let’s start with a few photos of London getting in the mood – decked out in more Union Jacks than you could imagine:
I started the festivities with Notting Hill garden party, held in Ladbroke Square Gardens, the largest of all London’s private gardens (after Buckingham Palace!). It was tickets only and we were served amazing Jubilee themed cakes on china plates and even had a visit from the Queen! It was a Father Christmas moment with so many excited small children – do you tell them it’s not the real Queen? The sun came out and it was glorious and fingers were crossed for Sunday…….
On Sunday we were promised the largest river pageant for 350 years and the forecast was not good but we are British so we donned waterproofs and set off. I was very lucky to have a special place in the Tower of London to watch the thousand boats of all shapes and sizes go past, including the Queen’s huge barge, golden Gloriana, a barge of ringing bells, small boats from the Dunkirk evacuation in the Second World War, gondoliers and Native Americans and so many more! By mid-afternoon, the rain had come and drenched the crowds leading to jokes all round about the Queen’s ‘reign’ (or rather ‘rain’). We were very damp but spirits were still high. I loved it and the moment that the rowed boats swept into view was so spectacular I will always remember it, especially knowing those brave souls had been rowing for 7 miles by then!
Monday saw the return of the sun and the huge concert at Buckingham Palace with the biggest fireworks I can remember, which I could hear from my flat! We watched this on the TV and here are a couple of photos off the TV to show you the incredible sights.
For the final day, there were more formal celebrations when the Queen went to St Paul’s Cathedral to give thanks for her 60 years as monarch. The huge banks of seats, set up for the concert the night before in front of Buckingham Palace, were up for grabs in a ballot earlier in the year and I won a pair so set off to see the Queen ride in and out, to catch the royal family on the balcony and an RAF flypast. We could see the church service and the procession through the streets of London on big screens and once the royals were in the Palace the crowds from the Mall surged into the space in front of the gates in their thousands to cheer and wave. Of course, that’s when the rain came down again! However it was great fun and we could see the Queen and her immediate family (just Charles, Camilla, Wills and Kate and Harry) and the flypast was very loud and dramatic with Second World War planes as well as the Red Arrows.
So, then it was over and I was left with great memories and real admiration for the Queen’s stamina as she is 86 and managed to go to the races on Saturday, stand for hours in the cold and damp on a boat on Sunday, was up to light a beacon at 10.30 pm on Monday, did a full day of engagements on Tuesday and still had more to do the rest of the week. I was tired out and I didn’t do half of it!
It was a wonderful time to be in London and join the excitement of the crowds who were genuinely pleased for the Queen and proud of her. Patriotism broke out and people were so happy to be part of the celebrations, the incredible set pieces but also the local street parties bringing neighbours together.
Bye for now.