What exactly is the Platinum Jubilee?

This year, Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest serving monarch Britain has ever had, marking 70 years since she acceded to the throne on 6 February 1952 at the age of 25. That 70th anniversary is known as the Platinum Jubilee, and will be celebrated throughout the year in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth with a variety of events, culminating with the focal point of the Platinum Jubilee Weekend.


When is the Platinum Jubilee Weekend?

This will take the form of an extended Bank Holiday weekend, from Thursday 2 to Sunday 5 June.

What will happen over the Platinum Jubilee Weekend?

Celebrations will include public events and community activities, as well as national moments of reflections on The Queen’s 70 years of service. Among the events will be the Queen's Birthday Parade, the lighting of Platinum Jubilee Beacons, the Service of Thanksgiving, the Derby at Epsom Downs, the Platinum Party at the Palace, the Big Jubilee Lunch and the Platinum Jubilee Pageant.

How can the public join in?

Members of the public will be invited to apply to attend the Party at the Palace via a ballot for UK residents. Elsewhere, people will be encouraged to arrange street parties to join the Big Jubilee Lunch. Sandringham and Balmoral will be open for visitors across the long weekend. Plus, anyone who has kept the original vintage clothes of their fashion heyday is invited to apply to dress up and walk in the pageant on the Sunday, with a particular call-out to those who lived through each of the seven decades that the Queen has been on the throne, to take part in a parade down The Mall to the Palace.

When and where is the Platinum Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving?

This will take place at St Paul's Cathedral on Friday 3 June, with further details to be announced.

What music is likely to be played at the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving?

According to a list which was published on her 90th birthday in 2016, two of the Queen's favourite hymns are 'Praise My Soul, The King of Heaven' and 'The Lord is My Shepherd', and there's a good chance they will make an appearance here. There are also likely to be hymns associated with other significant moments in her reign, among them 'I vow to thee my country,' which was heard at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee service in 2012, and 'Rejoice in the Lord Always' - sung at her coronation in 1953. 'Lead us, heavenly Father' was sung during the Queen's 90th Birthday Service of Thanksgiving and so could also be sung here

Classical music choices might include William Walton's Orb and Sceptre March, Handel's Zadok the Priest and Britten's Te Deum in C Major, all of which were played at the Diamond Jubilee Service. And odds are on that the current Master of the Queen's Music, Judith Weir, will write a new piece.

Of course one piece of music that will be definitely played is the British national anthem, 'God Save the Queen'.

Only a year on from losing her husband, it seems likely too that the Queen will want to honour his memory with musical works connected with him. Among these, perhaps the standout choice is Britten's Jubilate in C. Written in 1961 for St George's Chapel, Windsor at the request of H.R.H The Duke of Edinburgh, it was played at his 80th and 90th birthdays as well as his funeral service. But the Queen might also want some music that speaks of their life together. When they got married in 1947, the Australian composer William Neil McKie, who was director of music at the wedding, wrote a motet specially for the occasion: 'We wait for thy loving kindness, O God.' Perhaps this Jubilee service would be a good time to revive it?


Photo: Getty


Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.