If the decade that preceded her Golden Jubilee had been tough, the one that followed was a particularly happy one for the Queen and her family.
In 2005, the Prince of Wales finally married Camilla Parker Bowles, who became the Duchess of Cornwall, only to be followed by his eldest son in 2011.
After a long courtship that had begun during their university days, Prince William and Catherine Middleton were married amid the full pomp of a royal spectacular at Westminster Abbey.
The Queen had seen plenty of comings and goings elsewhere as Tony Blair gave way to Gordon Brown, followed by David Cameron and the first coalition government of her reign.
She also spoke for the entire nation after the banking crisis of 2008 when she asked, ‘Why did no one see this coming?’
By then, she had celebrated her 80th birthday and was showing precious little sign of slowing down. In 2011 she made a historic state visit to her neighbour, Ireland, but also flew to the other side of the world to meet Commonwealth leaders in Australia.
Queen Elizabeth is cheered by crowds as she arrives at Nine Springs Park on 2 May 2012 in Yeovil during her visit to the south west of England in the Diamond Jubilee Tour
Crowds at the Royal procession down the Mall during the Queen;s Diamond Jubilee celebrations
Come 2012, she would share the limelight with another colossal event which also brought the nation together.
Rightly so, given that she had played a key part in it. For when the organisers of the bid to bring the 2012 Olympics to London were trying to persuade the International Olympic Committee that the UK knew how to throw a world-class party, they merely had to replay the scenes from the Golden Jubilee.
The bid helped London pip archrivals Paris to the prize, and Britain began preparing for a sporting fortnight that would cost £9.3 billion.
The Queen would end up playing a starring role herself in what was unquestionably the non-sporting highlight of the Games – her appearance, with James Bond, in a spoof video at the opening ceremony.
YOUNG APPRENTICE LEARNS FROM THE OLD HANDS
Gary Connery and Mark Sutton parachuting into the stadium as part of a short James bond film featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond and The Queen at London 2012’s Opening Ceremony
The Queen and her corgis welcome James Bond to Buckingham Palace as part of a film made for the Olympic Games
Before that could happen though, Britain was digging out its bunting yet again to mark only the second Diamond Jubilee in British history.
From the outset, Palace staff were conscious that a Queen in her ninth decade could not be expected to replicate previous Jubilee globetrotting schedules.
She would delegate the overseas tours to the younger generations, starting with the Earl and Countess of Wessex who would carry her Jubilee best wishes to the Caribbean in February.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall would make the big trip to Australia and New Zealand while the newlywed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be despatched to Asia and the tiniest of all the Queen’s realms, Tuvalu (population: 10,400).
For the Queen, the Jubilee began in earnest in March when she travelled to one of Britain’s most multicultural cities on a scheduled train – the 10.15 from St Pancras to Leicester.
She was accompanied not just by the Duke of Edinburgh but also the Duchess of Cambridge.
Prince William was overseas, doing a stint as a search and rescue pilot in the Falklands, and here was a perfect opportunity for the wise old experts to pass on a few tips to the new apprentice.
They started at the city’s De Montfort University where Bollywood dancers and a gospel choir lined up with Army veterans to welcome the royal party.
The hosts had laid on a fashion show for the two royal ladies, which proved more of a novelty for the Queen than for the Duchess (who first met her husband while sashaying down a catwalk at a university fashion show).
Among the first outfits on show was a dress of silk georgette so flimsy that the model’s underwear was clearly visible.
The Queen took it all in her stride. A church service and a civic lunch were followed by a city centre walkabout where a group of anti-monarchists were staging a rally.
At the start of the day, I counted them up and the total came to five. By close of play, their ranks had swollen to six.
There were similar awaydays across the country, with crowds on a par with previous jubilees.
There were a series of engagements with an emphasis on fun and youth appeal. For example, she toured Liverpool’s Albert Dock in a Duckmobile and, during her visit to Chester, met a rhino at the zoo.
As part of the celebrations, the Queen would confer city status on Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph while Armagh became a Lord Mayoralty.
There was a magnificent Diamond Jubilee equestrian pageant at Windsor, featuring 550 horses. The Queen also invited her fellow sovereigns from all over the world – 26 in all – to a special luncheon.
It was certainly the ultimate challenge for the Palace protocol team since who was supposed to bow to whom?
A WET WEEKEND FOR A RIVER PAGEANT
Prince Philip, The Queen, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duchess of Cambridge on board the Spirit of Chartwell
Gloriana passes the Houses of Parliament
The main focus, as ever, was on the weekend where the most spectacular element would be a giant river parade, involving a 1,000-strong flotilla which sailed from Putney Bridge to Canary Wharf.
It included a magnificent replica medieval rowbarge, the Gloriana, commissioned by boat-loving philanthropist Lord Sterling, and a fleet of ‘little ships’ from Dunkirk.
All the Royal Family, assorted VIPs and celebrities were scattered across various boats while the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were in pride of place on the Spirit Of Chartwell.
More than a million people lined the banks to see this delightfully eccentric tableau chug downstream, though the weather gradually shifted from grey to grim to appalling.
The Queen refused to go below, her only concession to the cold being the thick pashmina she tied around her neck.
By the end, more than 20 people had to be hospitalised with hypothermia. They were joined later by the Duke of Edinburgh who, despite his obvious enjoyment of the maritime pageantry, had contracted a bladder infection.
It meant the Queen was without her ‘strength and stay’ for the rest of the long weekend.
The Queen standing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the Diamond Jubilee Procession
Given the state of the Palace garden after her Golden Jubilee concerts, it was decided to hold the pop concert for the Diamond affair out at the front.
There was a certain amount of déjà vu as the greats of pop lined up once again, most of them veterans of the 2002 gig.
By now, the majority had been decorated by the Queen at some point – Sir Paul McCartney, Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Elton John, Sir Tom Jones and so on.
The whole show had been masterminded by former Take That star Gary Barlow. This time, it was not Brian May but 80s band Madness on the Palace roof.
At the end, there were great fireworks and an appearance on stage by the Queen and Prince Charles. Once again, he prefaced his remarks with, ‘Your Majesty… Mummy!’
The Jubilee concluded with another service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s and a scaled-back balcony appearance at the Palace: just the Queen, plus the Prince of Wales and Prince William, their wives and Prince Harry.
If it all felt familiar, it was all the better for it. That is the thing about Jubilees. They don’t need to change much.
We loyal subjects tend to like things very much as they are. It was interesting to note that the appetite for street parties had not waned. Indeed, it had almost doubled since 2002 with 9,500 applications to shut down roads.
It helped that the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles (very much a sausage roll and cake kind of chap) had urged councils to lighten up on the red tape, telling the House of Commons, ‘The bunting police have gone.’
With three months to go before the Jubilee weekend, the most patriotic county in Britain was Hertfordshire with 61 road closure applications, ahead of Nottinghamshire with 45 and Hampshire with 20. Many more would follow suit in the run-up to the big event.
‘We have a very straightforward application form. You don’t have to go wading through lots of paperwork,’ said a spokesman for Richmond Borough Council in south-west London, which ended up holding more street parties than any other borough in the capital. ‘That seems to do the trick.’
Amen to that. We can but hope that the architects of the Platinum Jubilee take note.
Break out the bunting! There’s never been a better excuse for a national knees-up than Her Majesty’s historical milestones – as these joyous pictures prove
Coronation Road in east London lived up to its name on Coronation day – residents decorated every house and 27 royal shields adorned the street. Inset: there’s a buzz of anticipation for these youngsters in the East End when the posters go up announcing their local Coronation party (16 May 1953)
Children in the East End of London reading a poster announcing a forthcoming party to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (26 August 1952)
They needed an extra-long tablecloth on Norfolk Crescent in Sidcup as local children toasted their new queen (2 June 1953)
These three youngsters have pulled out all the patriotic stops for the Silver Jubilee (1977)
The Queen of Hearts and Britannia made a spectacular appearance at the Silver Jubilee party in Woodford Bridge, Essex (1 June 1977)
The residents of Llanmaes Street in Cardiff have been throwing royal celebration parties for generations, pictured at the Silver Jubilee (1977)
Over in Belfast they had a flag-tastic day at the Silver Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II (1977)
Lina Sultana, 8, has her face painted with the Union Jack flag to celebrate Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee at a street party ( 3 June 2002)
Falkner House, an independent girl’s school in central London hosting a street party in Brechin Place to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee in 2012
There was much hair apparent at Holland Park in west London for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (4 June 2012)
A high old time was had at this Diamond Jubilee party in London’s Kensington (1 June 2012)
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