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June 3, 2012

Jubilee biscuit tin from Emma Bridgewater

For those of you on Mars or anywhere else uninterested in the British Monarchy, Britain and her dominions are celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II this weekend. Our queen is only the second British monarch ever to make it to a diamond jubilee, marking a reign of sixty years: the other was Queen Victoria, in 1897. So it’s a pretty good excuse for a party.

A Victorian letter box in Winchester, still in daily use.

It was only when we visited the south of England last month that we realised quite how excited people were getting about the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. In rural Scotland, you might easily miss the occasion completely. Down south, on the other hand, even with a month to go to the Jubilee weekend you could hardly move without tripping over Union Jack bunting. The newsagents were stuffed with magazines about the Queen, reminiscing on her sixty glorious years, and the gift shops were having a field day.

A shop window in Winchester

I thought it was marvellous. The majority of Scots are monarchists, but we tend to be a bit coy about admitting it. I’ve only seen one house with bunting on it, for example, and that was yesterday. England’s joyful enthusiasm for our hard-working Queen and her Jubilee made a happy contrast. I came home inspired, and I freely admit that I have snapped up a fair number of Jubilee souvenirs, from the sober (beautiful mugs for my children from the Royal Collection) to the silliest (royal family face-masks, anyone?).

When I was a little girl, my granny gave me a delicate bone china cup and saucer commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. I suppose her mother had left it to her. Over the years, other family members gave or bequeathed commemorative mugs from later coronations and jubilees, so that now we have a shelf full, covering the whole span of the twentieth century and beyond, from 1897 to the present. This sort of china isn’t worth much in monetary terms, but means a lot in terms of family history. Adding a mug which commemorates the Diamond Jubilee of our present Queen, therefore, will make a rather nice balance to that first cup from the reign of Queen Victoria.

Commemorative cup and saucer for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, guarded by tin soldiers from the same era. The mottos on the cup say ‘Empress of India’ and ‘Queen of an Empire on which the sun never sets’.

There are all sorts of grander schemes one could adopt for the Jubilee, of course. At one point we were thinking about lighting a beacon (over two thousand beacons are being lit across Britain, from Cornwall to Shetland) and throwing a garden party for our neighbours. It could have been fun, but the death of my father-in-law three weeks ago put paid to such expansive thoughts. We are not in the mood for parties and bonfires now.

Nevertheless, the Diamond Jubilee is a historic event and one worth celebrating, even if on a modest family scale. So I shall be hanging up some Union Jack bunting on the front steps this morning. The boys have caught my enthusiasm, and yesterday spent an hour or so absorbed in making paper bunting decorated with symbols of monarchy. Today they are going to ice the cupcakes I baked on Saturday: jelly diamonds and Union Jack cocktail flags will feature heavily, I believe. This afternoon, we plan to eat our Jubilee cupcakes and the Jubilee shortbread I’ve bought (I couldn’t resist the tins!) and to drink tea from our Jubilee mugs under our Jubilee bunting, while watching the television to try to spot our friend in one of the thousand boats in the Jubilee flotilla on the Thames. Yes, I am making the most of it: goodness knows it is a relief to have something happy in our lives just at the moment.

A splendiferous shortbread tin from the Royal Collection.

There are plenty of other people out there who need this reason to be cheerful more than us, of course. With that in mind, there are several brilliant Jubilee ideas out there to balance out any self-indulgence in the cupcakes and shortbread department: we might plant some trees to add to the Jubilee Woods project, for example or volunteer for an hour as part of the Jubilee Hour initiative. As always, the Queen inspires by her example. Happy Diamond Jubilee, Ma’am!

An unexpected visitor joins us for Jubilee tea!

More shameless monarchism can be found in A rather special April.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2012 6:13 pm

    I loved your post! Thanks for sharing the memorabilia photos (will be looking shortly for Emma Bridgewater’s tin!)
    We are thousand of miles away (Pacific NW coast) but ex-RAF hubby and myself celebrated with a lovely plate of scones and lemon tarts (with the Union Jack nearby!) and did not hesitate to send an email/greeting card to her Majesty (and were delighted to receive a reply).
    All the best,

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 3, 2012 6:35 pm

      How splendid to think of you celebrating more than half way around the world, and how very splendid that you received a reply to your greeting! I’ve been wondering where other people might be joining in the Jubilee.

  2. June 3, 2012 6:39 pm

    I have been sat (yes, I sat through the whole thing) watching the flotilla. but must admit, I got a little sidetracked by reading the tweets on #jubilee – some were extremely amusing, some were almost as tedious as watching boats in the rain.
    your diamond jubilee mug is a nice keepsake and I am impressed that it has not been broken or chipped as has the empire over all these years.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 3, 2012 9:47 pm

      ‘Broken or chipped as has the empire’ – like the analogy! Yes, I don’t know how this cup and saucer managed to outlive the empire. I used to keep badges in it as a teenager. 🙂

  3. June 3, 2012 6:55 pm

    We’ve just finished watching the river parade – (Caught some views of celebrations yesterday in neighborhoods in London)
    I don’t care if it is raining – I would have loved to have been there.
    The cups and saucers and mugs are the perfect commemorative pieces.
    The jubilee is such a wonderful way to honor a gracious lady. And she is an inspiration.
    We may be in Texas, but we know where we came from.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 3, 2012 9:49 pm

      Did you notice that the Queen didn’t sit down all the way down the Thames? She is amazing, as is Prince Philip, ramrod straight at an unimaginable 90 years old.
      Glad you’ve been enjoying the show from Texas!

      • June 4, 2012 5:23 pm

        Her solid stance has been commented on several times here. Fortitude and training. Bet she didn’t whine either. And she does have a nice smile – it’s good to see her happy and enjoying herself. (Concert tonight..but she can sit down!)

  4. June 3, 2012 9:47 pm

    spent most of today watching the flotilla on the Thames. From one of the chipped of bits of the Empire.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 3, 2012 9:50 pm

      ‘Chipped off bit of Empire’! 🙂 Yes, we spent most of the day on it too. My husband has now announced that he is ‘all Jubileed out’ for this evening.

  5. Lisa permalink
    June 3, 2012 11:18 pm

    I don’t have a television set, and living on Canada’s west coast I was hoping for online access through BBC or CBC, but couldn’t locate any. I was up at my usual time of 5am, made coffee and went online to read the Daily Telegraph as normal,and praise be…online access. A MILLION THANKS TO THE TELEGRAPH; the icing on the cake being there was no commentary, just the background sounds…bliss.
    The Queen and Prince Phillip are amazing as they never sat down. Prince Phillip observed and was interested in everything. (is this the secret to longevity?) They were obviously cold,but they didn’t waver.
    And the small boat rowers battling along in choppy waters, all the sailors and the crowds were stunning in their refusal to let the weather intrude, especially the Philharmonic singers who were drenched but sang with such verve and enthusiasm.The Pageant was wonderful.

    • June 4, 2012 7:43 pm

      I’m rather envious of your having found coverage without a commentary. The BBC’s commentary was mostly pretty banal, and covered the music and bells from the boats.
      Keeping interested is, I’m sure, one of the secrets to a long life. And continuous learning: the Queen and Pr.Philip must be meeting new people and learning new facts every day. They certainly look amazing on it!

  6. Julia Miller permalink
    June 4, 2012 3:10 am

    I watched the video of the official Diamond Jubilee single Sing, written by Gary Barlow and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber (which is wonderful and catchy). I’m not sure where to look on TV, online etc to catch some of the festivities. I think it is wonderful to have a nation with such grand history. All political arguments aside – The Royal Family is exciting to watch.

    Did you grow up in the UK? Scotland? Just curious.

    • June 4, 2012 7:47 pm

      BBC iPlayer is your best bet, I should think. Google it and head for BBC1. Good luck!

      I’m a Scot/ Brit who was born in Australia and spent some of my childhood in Singapore, between trips back home to Scotland. My European friends tell me that that’s what makes me a good interpreter of my homeland: I can see it from outside as well as inside!

  7. hmunro permalink
    June 4, 2012 12:31 pm

    Wonderful, wonderful post, DB. Thank you for sharing such thoughtful, personal insights into this historic event.

  8. June 4, 2012 4:52 pm

    Love this post! And love your final photo too!! Yes London and the South of England has had Jubilee Fever for the last week apparently. That and the Olympic Torch….. It’s times like these I’m glad I live on a remote island -tee hee!! All those crowds are my idea of hell! I’m not a monarchist, but I live in a country that does have a monarchy and I’m all for celebrating the reign of a Queen who has been steadfast throughout her 60 year reign. And applaud her and Philip for staning for FIVE HOURS on that breezy boat!! I really hope she was wearing her vest. Missed all the hoo-haa as was at the Orkney Folk Festival. But glad the celebrations went off well. And lots of community events too. We’re even lighting a beacon on Graemsay tonight!!

    • June 4, 2012 7:52 pm

      Yes, I couldn’t cope with those crowds these days either. The Queen’s devotion to us and to her duty is worth celebrating by any standards, I’d say: ‘steadfast’ is just the right word.

      I read today that Eddie Reader was at the Orkney Folk Festival: bet she was great. And I’m impressed that Graemsay has its own beacon! Hope the Hoy folk don’t upstage you!

  9. June 4, 2012 10:07 pm

    Happy rural Jubilee! What stamina the Queen had to stand on that boat yesterday. I’m even now untangling our (made in China) bunting.

    • June 5, 2012 1:55 pm

      Wasn’t she amazing, as always. Our bunting is staying firmly up until the end of the Jubilee this evening – I managed to find some English-made bunting in Winchester! Hope you’ve had a good ‘un too.

  10. June 6, 2012 8:54 am

    I loved this post, DB and am impressed that your collection of commemorative china has survived so well. We had visitors all weekend, so I wasn’t able to watch as much of the celebrations as I would have likes (I’m a definite monarchist in a low-key way). However we did watch most of the river pageant and like you were deeply impressed by the fortitude and stamina of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. I wonder whether standing behind the chairs rather than sitting on them helped shelter them from some of the very cold wind?

    I thought the BBC coverage was far below the standard I’m used to, with too many inane ‘interviews’ and a pronounced inability to hear the bells and the music. But visually it was a feast. 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 7, 2012 6:35 pm

      I quite agree with you about the standard of the Beeb’s coverage. In fact I think the whole country is in agreement! So frustrating not to hear the bells and the specially written music. Still, I loved every moment of the Jubilee itself, and am sorry that the celebrations are over. The Queen, of course, went straight back to work as usual yesterday with a reception for Commonwealth Heads of State. She’ll be a hard act to follow.

  11. June 7, 2012 11:14 pm

    I was at a wedding and so missed most of the Jubliee celebrations – but reading your post and everyone’s comments has made me very proud to be British! The Queen really is inspiring, I hadn’t realised how long the poor soul had been standing on her barge. For her husband to be absent through illness in the latter part of the celebrations must have been very hard for her.


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