ot so long ago, planners for a new
celebration, to be called the String of Pearls Festival, convinced
the operators of numerous revered institutions up and down London's
Thames River to open their doors a bit wider to the public during
the year 2000, as a way to commemorate the millennium.
Festival director Dylan Hammond said, "We told them 'it won't
happen again.' " After all, a new millennium only arrives every
But, his team came calling again in less than two years, saying
the same thing -- "it won't happen again" -- as they put together
another String of Pearls Festival, this time to celebrate Queen
Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee in 2002. She ascended to the throne
Feb. 6, 1952; the coronation was in 1953.
Indeed, Hammond continued, it seems unlikely another monarch
will sit on the British throne for 50 years. Certainly, for
Americans who are Anglophiles or simply like the pomp associated
with royalty, many events slated for the 2002 anniversary are made
Given the Jubilee celebrates the queen, visitors might
reasonably aim for a chance to see her, so highlights of the year's
events follow, starting with those that offer some chance of
catching a glimpse of her majesty:
• Golden Jubilee Weekend, June 1 to 4. The centerpiece of the
year's activities is a four-day weekend of formal commemorative
events, concerts, church services and parties. Some activities are
invitation-only, some are open to the public by lot and others are
available to all.
Buckingham Palace Gardens will be opened for free BBC concerts
on the evenings of June 1 (for classical music) and June 3 (for pop
music). Tickets will be allocated this spring by ballot to 14,000
for each day's event. Watch for details at www.goldenjubilee.gov.uk or www.bbc.co.uk/musiclive.
The queen is expected to attend although this has not been
On the morning of June 4, dubbed Jubilee Day, the queen will attend
a by-invitation National Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul's
Cathedral, but visitors can watch the ceremonial procession to St.
These events will be complemented by plenty of celebratory
noise-making and partying.
On Sunday, June 2, churches will ring their bells across the
kingdom, as if in warmup to June 3, when at noon, those bells,
cannons, gongs, whistles and drums will announce the start of the
Golden Jubilee Summer Party, a nationwide collection of locally
organized garden and street parties. The BBC's series of Music Live
Street Festivals is set for the same day at points throughout the
country; watch for details at www.bbc.co.uk/musiclive or at www.goldenjubileesummerparty.co.uk.
Also, gun salutes will be heard in London at noon and at 1
The day's events will end with a lighting of beacons and
bonfires across the U.K. and the Commonwealth. The use of fires is
an ancient communication system in Britain. The queen will start
the process by lighting the Central Beacon in London. Fireworks in
the capital will follow.
For just one last official party, on June 4, after the
thanksgiving service, there will be a carnival pageant on the
• Royal Windsor Horse Show, May 15 to 19, and the Queen's
Birthday Parade, June 15.
The queen and members of her family attend the annual horse show
at Windsor Castle. This year, the show will include a spectacular,
slated for the evenings of May 16, 17 and 18, called "All the
Queen's Horses," featuring more than 1,000 horses, an orchestra,
choirs and dancers. Her majesty is expected to attend one evening,
but for security reasons, the public is not likely to know which
night the queen will appear until about the first of May.
Tickets are £35 to £75, and purchase information is offered at
www.allthequeenshorses.co.uk. To book, call (011)
44-870 121-5370 or reserve at www.wayahead.com (search for the Windsor Horse
Show). May 13 is the booking deadline.
The official birthday isn't a Jubilee event, but on June 15, the
queen will travel from Buckingham Palace at around 10:40 a.m. down
the Mall to the Horse Guard Parade for the Trooping the Colour
ceremony and will return in time to stand on the palace balcony at
1 p.m. for an RAF flyby. People line the Mall for the processions,
and tickets (costing about $22) are available to the ceremonies at
the parade ground on a ballot basis.
Apply by mail before Feb. 28 and, from overseas, enclose
international reply coupons to get a response by mail. The address
is The Brigade Major (Trooping the Colour), Headquarters Household
Division, Horse Guards, Whitehall, London SW1A 2AX.
• A modern-day royal progress, between May 1 and Aug. 5. The
queen's predecessors would have envied the ease with which
Elizabeth II will be able to visit points throughout the kingdom,
without having to make one long overland journey.
Hence, another possibility for seeing the queen -- again with no
guarantees -- is to schedule jaunts outside of London to coincide
with her itinerary.
She is slated to make more than a dozen trips to celebrate the
anniversary with her subjects at points ranging from Cornwall in
the far southwest, at the beginning of May, to Scotland, for a
six-day ramble (May 23 to 29).
She will go to Manchester twice, to open the Commonwealth Games
on July 25 and to close them, as well, on Aug. 4. In addition, she
will attend a Royal Military Review in Portsmouth on June 27.
The multiple itineraries, still works-in-progress, are locatable
at www.goldenjubilee.gov.uk (click on Queen's Programme),
with precise details expected to appear in the last weeks before
• String of Pearls Festival, March through December. More than
80 institutions -- public and private, religious and secular --
have agreed to participate and each must plan something special
that would not be offered in any other year. The points of interest
stretch from Windsor Castle and Eton College at the western end to
Woolwich to the east of the Docklands.
Visitors will have a unique level of access. So, for example,
they can view the Secret Gardens of Eton or visit areas of the
Parliament building and of Westminster Abbey not normally seen. Or,
visitors can come to Lincoln's Inn (one of the historic Inns of
Court complexes that house the offices -- or chambers -- of the
city's trial lawyers) for Shakespeare on the lawn and free concerts
in the chapel, or they may take in a music festival or lectures at
Southwark Cathedral (located south of the Thames near the Globe
Theatre. It is the burial site for one of the Shakespeares,
The easternmost point, Woolwich, is home to the Royal Artillery,
to be host to theatrical performances and more, and surely one of
the most narrowly focused special events is the exhibition on royal
fans, set for the Fan Museum in Greenwich.
Most events are free, though some one-time activities carry a
charge. Specifics on dates and other details are still to come at
Separately, Jubilee planners created a self-guided walking tour
of London, called the Jubilee Walkway, with its own map and Web
site; the site at www.jubileewalkway.com is still in development.
Covering top sites on both side of the Thames, the tour is an
update of a similar walking tour created for the queen's Silver
Jubilee in 1977.
The new walk will take visitors past the Jubilee Bridge, to open
in 2002, London's first covered footbridge since 1176.
• Special exhibitions and events throughout the country, usually
in the spring and summer months. Some examples follow:
† The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace,
under renovation, will be reopened in May, and a new Queen's
Gallery will be built close to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in
Edinburgh. Both will exhibit art from the Royal Collection. In
addition, a touring exhibit of Da Vinci works from Windsor will
make the rounds of the U.K. in 2002.
† Over Jubilee Weekend, Hever Castle in Kent
will host four days of Elizabethan Revelries, referring to the
first Elizabeth, whose mother, Anne Boleyn, was born at this
castle. The event will feature jesters, archers and other such
performers, market stalls and even "Elizabeth I." (www.hevercastle.co.uk)
† The Museum of Costume in Bath is hosting an
exhibit, "Jubilee! Dresses From the Collection of Her Majesty the
Queen," through Nov. 3. (www.museumofcostume.co.uk, for information on
† London's Victoria & Albert Museum set an
exhibit, "The Tiara Today," for March 21 to July 14. (www.vam.ac.uk, use
search word Tiara)
† On May 1, Kensington Palace will open a
yearlong exhibit, "A Century of Royal Wedding Dresses," covering
the wedding-day garb of five queens from Victoria to Elizabeth. (www.hrp.org.uk for
information on the palace)
For information on all Jubilee-related events, the most
referenced Web addresses are www.goldenjubilee.gov.uk and www.londontouristboard.com/goldenjubilee. Also, www.travelbritain.org (click Events under UK
Databases) lists relevant events including some local street
For more coverage of the Queen's Jubilee events, see the
Queen's Jubilee: Operators give planning
Queen's Jubilee: A royal itinerary
Queen's Jubilee: On the Web
Queen's Jubilee: Heard on site