60th Anniversary Reached – Distinctiveness of the Queen Elizabeth 2
Britons have been pretty occupied with different kinds on national celebrations during years 2011 and 2012. Last year, prince William was one of two main celebrities that media was focusing on, next to his soon to become wife and Duchess' of Cambridge - Catherine Middleton. In 2012, there were even two major events that have been drawing a lot of public attention: one being the Queen Elizabeth's celebration of the II Diamond Jubilee (60th Anniversary) and the other one being the Summer Olympic Games in London. It doesn't happen often nowadays for a monarch to celebrate its 60th anniversary on the throne. Therefore this was the major event, especially if we're talking not about any royal family - but the Royal House of Windsor, the one with jurisdiction over the Commonwealth countries. I want to share with you some interesting information I've collected on the Queen and her work and life in previous 60 years.
One of the longest reigning British monarchs
Queen Elizabeth II, as Britain's 40th monarch since William the Conqueror is currently the second longest reigning British Royal head. She needs 3 more years the catch up her ancestor Queen Victoria. Nevertheless, at the age of 86, Queen Elizabeth is the oldest monarch to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. Before her, the last and only other British monarch to celebrate this occasion was Queen Victoria in 1897, at the age of 77.
Elizabeth was also the first British monarch to celebrate her diamond wedding anniversary.
Over the course of her reign, she has given regular Tuesday-evening audiences to 12 British Prime Ministers: Winston Churchill, 1951-55; Sir Anthony Eden, 1955-57; Harold Macmillan, 1957-63; Sir Alec Douglas-Home, 1963-64; Harold Wilson, 1964-70 and 1974-76; Edward Heath, 1970-74; James Callaghan, 1976-79; Margaret Thatcher, 1979-90; John Major, 1990-97; Tony Blair, 1997-2007; Gordon Brown, 2007-2010; and David Cameron, 2010-present.
During her reign, 12 U.S. Presidents had their terms, but also 6 Popes (Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI) have been heading the Roman Catholic Church.
Host to diverse events
In an average year, the Queen hosts more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and garden parties at Buckingham Palace. The Queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, introduced small, informal luncheon parties at Buckingham Palace to meet distinguished people from all professions, trades and vocations. The first was held in 1956, and the tradition continues to this day. There are usually six to eight guests and two members of the royal household in attendance. Around 1.5 million people have attended garden parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland since Elizabeth has been on the throne. During the same period she has conferred over 404,500 honors and awards. In June 2002, on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee, the Queen hosted the first public concerts in the garden of Buckingham Palace. This Party at the Palace show was one of the most-watched pop concerts in history, attracting about 200 million viewers from all over the world.
Greeting cards & Telegrams
Over the last 60 years of her reign, the Queen Elizabeth II has been nurturing tradition of caring monarch by writing hundreds of thousands of greeting cards and telegrams to inhabitants of U.K. and Commonwealth countries on different occasions:
- Around 175,000 telegrams have been sent to centenarians in these countries.
- More than 540,000 telegrams have been send to couples in the U.K. and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.
- Over 37,500 Christmas cards have been sent by The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Official visits round the world
In the past 60 years, the Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 96 state visits, to 116 different countries. Logically, she visited most frequently the Commonwealth countries: Australia 16 times, Canada 22 times and New Zealand 10 times.
- Many of Elizabeth's official tours were undertaken on the royal yacht Britannia. Over 43 years of service, Britannia traveled more than 1 million miles (1.6 million km) on royal and official duties.
- Her first Commonwealth tour began in 1953, and included visits to Bermuda, Jamaica, Panama, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, the Cocos Islands, Ceylon, Aden, Uganda, Libya, Malta and Gibraltar. The total distance covered was 43,618 miles (70,196 km).
- She was the first British monarch to visit China in 1986.
TV & Digital Media Broadcasting
Recognizing importance of new media, the Queen has been open for cooperation with artists on projects which aimed at bringing the Royal Family closer to people:
- In 1957, the Queen allowed television cameras inside Westminster Abbey for the first time during a State occasion for her Coronation. An extra half a million TV sets are sold in the weeks running up to the event.
- In 1969, the first television film about the family life of the royals was made.
- She has made a Christmas broadcast to the Commonwealth every year of her reign (only exception was in 1969).
- In 1953, she made her first Christmas broadcast from overseas, broadcasting live from New Zealand. Her first live TV broadcast was in 1957. Her first prerecorded broadcast took place in 1960, allowing transmission around the world.
- 100,000 copies of the Party at the Palace CD, produced by EMI, were sold within its first week of release, making her the first member of the Royal Family to be awarded a gold disc from the recording industry.
Over the last two decades, the British Royal family, headed by the Queen, has made all required steps to portray themselves in public as forward thinking and even I could say "an IT savvy Monarch family":
- It is said that she was the first Monarch to send an email during a visit to an army base back in 1976.
- Already in 1997, The Queen launched a web site www.royal.gov.uk during a visit to Kingsbury High School in Brent.
- First podcast of the Queen has been made in 2006 called "The Christmas Broadcast", or "Queen's speech".
- The Queen joined Facebook in year 2010, with a page called the British Monarchy, which features royal news, photos, videos and speeches. However, it is not possible to poke the royal family.
- She joined Twitter in July 2009, with teams at Buckingham Palace tweeting daily updates (but unfortunately none of the royals themselves tweet).
- In 2007, a YouTube channel for the royal family, dubbed the Royal Channel, was launched, as to mark the 50th anniversary of the Queen's first televised festive address and with a hope to make her annual speech "more accessible to younger people and those in other countries."
Driving and car maintenance
When one reads this headline, he/she may ask: "What the British Queen has to do with cars & maintenance?" Well, due to the fact that she was active in the military during the World War 2 she acquired some not so typical skills for the first lady of the British Royal Family:
- She is supposedly the only British monarch in history trained to change a spark plug, as she undertook a car-maintenance course during the World War II.
- Elizabeth learned to drive in 1945, when she joined the women's branch of the British army. Both she and Winston Churchill's daughter were members of the group, which was called the Auxiliary Territorial Service.
- The Queen is the only person in Britain who can drive without a license or number plate.