Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Date Posted: 11/08/2011

Her Majesty The Queen is celebrating her diamond jubilee in 2012 with a host of special events taking place throughout the year, so Group Leisure gives the lowdown on how groups can get involved in the festivities.

With the exception of her great, great grandmother Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth is the only monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee, so to mark her 60-year reign, official celebrations will take place on an extended weekend during the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th June.

London & Partners, the official tourism body for the capital, explains that the four day Bank Holiday weekend includes such highlights as The Big Jubilee Lunch on the 3rd June, whereby groups are encouraged to organise a street party; The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, an event also on the 3rd June which will consist of up to 1,000 boats floating on the river Thames, with The Queen making an appearance in the Royal Barge; the televised BBC Concert at Buckingham Palace on the 4th June, with details still to be announced; and The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Beacons also on the 4th June, which will feature a network of 2,012 beacons being lit by communities throughout the country. Other public appearances by the monarch include her attendance at the Epson Derby on the 2nd June, and a service of thanksgiving with a carriage procession at St Paul’s Cathedral on the 5th June.

When further visitor information is released in due course, groups will be able to get involved with a number of the official events. However many of the UK’s museums, galleries and historic buildings will be holding their own programme of events to mark the occasion.

The annual summer opening of Buckingham Palace next August and September will feature an exhibition called Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration, which aims to show the many ways in which diamonds have been used and worn by British monarchs over the last two centuries. Items of royal jewellery are handed down throughout the centuries, and some of the key pieces on display will include the coronation necklace and earrings created for Queen Victoria, her dramatic fringe brooch, and a miniature crown worn by Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. Parties of 15 or more can access group discounts.

The Drawings Gallery at Windsor Castle will present The Queen: Sixty Photographs for Sixty Years (pictured) from the 4th February until January 2013. The Berkshire exhibition will present a portrait of The Queen’s reign as captured in fleeting moments on both official occasions and at relaxed family gatherings. Iconic images being exhibited are of The Queen at the state opening of parliament, outside St Paul’s Cathedral at a service of thanksgiving in 2006, leading her filly after winning the oaks race at Epsom Downs Racecourse, and Her Majesty working at her desk with a corgi at her feet. Again, groups of 15 or more are entitled to discounted entry.

London’s Kensington Palace will host Victoria Revealed, billed as its first permanent story, opening on 26th March. Queen Victoria’s life will be revealed from childhood to old age, and will include her intimate private life set against her regal role. Held within the palace and in the very rooms where Victoria’s history happened, there will be many objects from her life on display, including dresses, diaries, paintings and wedding gifts.

In addition, Jubilee – the view from the crowd will be a temporary exhibition specifically exploring the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. It will draw on newspaper accounts, photographs, film and personal recollections from the three million well-wishers who converged on London in 1897 in the hope of catching a glimpse of the diminutive figure that had ruled her empire for so long. A range of benefits and services are offered to groups of 15 or more visiting Kensington Palace.

Celebrating Her Majesty The Queen’s diamond jubilee and also the National Maritime Museum’s 75th anniversary, RoyalRiver: Power, Pageantry and the Thames will bethe first major exhibition of the year in the Greenwich museum’s new Sammy Ofer Wing. Ready to be viewed from the 27th April, RoyalRiver willexplore the relationship between the monarch, the city and the people, as it was brought to life on the Thames. From London’s birth, royalty have looked to the Thames to display their power, patronage and pageantry to a city intimately connected to the water. Admission to the National Maritime Museum is free of charge.

To celebrate the 60-year landmark, south Kensington’s Victoria & Albert Museum is holding an exhibition of portraits of Queen Elizabeth, as taken by royal photographer Cecil Beaton. The highlights will depict The Queen in her roles as princess, monarch and mother, and include a number of never-seen-before photographs, as well as excerpts from Beaton’s diaries and letters. The V&A offers discounted exhibition entry to groups of over ten people.

Finally, the National Portrait Gallery has organised a touring exhibition to commemorate the jubilee. The Queen: Art and Image is now residing at the National Gallery Complex in Edinburgh until the 18th September, and will appear at Ulster Museum in Belfast from the 14th October until the 15th January, then the National Museum in Cardiff from the 4th February until the 29th April, before completing its tour at the National Portrait Gallery, London from the 17th May to the 21st October. Documenting the changing nature of monarchy representations, the presentation will show how images serve as a lens through which to view shifting perceptions of royalty. Group discounts at the venues may vary, but the National Portrait Gallery offers reductions to pre-booked parties of ten plus.


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