January 6th update:
Yesterday, Lord Mandelson announced to the House of Lords:
"2012 will be a landmark year for Her Majesty,
Britain and the Commonwealth. Queen Victoria is the only British
monarch to have celebrated a Diamond Jubilee. However modestly our
present Queen might approach this celebration, I know that people
across the whole country will want the chance to recognise this
remarkable achievement… We are currently planning a series of fitting
events to enable communities all over the country to mark the Diamond
Jubilee. Although we are still in the early stages of organisation, I
can confirm to the House that these celebrations will take place around
the first week of June 2012.
In honour of Her
Majesty, we will create a special Diamond Jubilee weekend, moving the
late May bank holiday to Monday 4 June, and adding an extra bank
holiday on Tuesday 5 June."
Who could have predicted that Lord Mandelson would take a law proposed by Andrew Rosindell and adopt it as government policy?
"That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision for a national public holiday marking the Queen’s diamond jubilee in 2012 and to establish a framework to ensure that the United Kingdom, its overseas territories and Crown dependencies appropriately commemorate this occasion; and for connected purposes."
Pasted below is the full text of Mr Rosindell's speech:
"On 6 February 1952, following the passing of His Majesty King George VI, Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II. That was nearly 58 years ago, so today, our nation can begin to look ahead to 2012—the year in which, God willing, we will be able to celebrate Her Majesty’s 60th year as Queen and the diamond jubilee of her reign. Of course, 2012 is already the year in which the eyes of every nation and billions of people across the globe will be watching Britain, as we stage the Olympic games here in London. It will undoubtedly be a year in which to celebrate great sporting achievements, but we in these islands will have an ever greater achievement to celebrate as another page in the history of our nation is reached. The 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne will be a momentous occasion, making Her Majesty the second longest reigning monarch, not only since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, but ever to reign over any part of the British isles.
Over the past decades, Her Majesty has witnessed many historic changes throughout her realms and across the world. Under her watchful eye, we have witnessed the evolution of the British empire into the Commonwealth of nations; the cold war, the collapse of communism and the fall of the Berlin wall; the liberation of the Falkland Islands and the handing over of Hong Kong to China. Her Majesty has reigned during times of enormous social and economic change in Britain, with 12 Prime Ministers holding office and 14 general elections—with another one expected—taking place during her long, eventful and distinguished reign. Throughout all those years, the one reassuring constant has been the sovereign herself. Queen Elizabeth II has been a firm hand on the tiller of our nation; Her Majesty has been a shining beacon to nations around the world as to how a modern constitutional monarchy should conduct itself. No other monarch could have propelled this country to such great success, and the Queen is rightly beloved by all her people.
The Queen’s diamond jubilee should be an opportunity for everyone to celebrate this great milestone in the history of our island people, whether they reside in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, our Crown dependencies, overseas territories or expatriate communities scattered across the globe. Indeed, Her Majesty is not only our sovereign, but also reigns over many millions of people throughout her realms—of Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; the Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Canada; Grenada; Jamaica; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. The people of those nations, too, should be given the opportunity to celebrate this glorious and historic occasion, for it is as much their celebration as it is ours.
I ask hon. Members to cast their minds back to the last occasion we had cause to celebrate our royal heritage, when the Queen celebrated her golden jubilee in 2002. In the run-up to the celebrations, we were told that it would be a low-key affair, with the public neither interested nor wanting a large celebration. How wrong they were! The events of that summer surpassed everyone’s expectations. That spirit of pageantry that was so evocative of the silver jubilee of 25 years earlier was wonderfully recaptured with more than 1 million people lining the Mall to cheer Her Majesty.
During the weekend of 1 to 4 June 2002, the Queen hosted a concert in the gardens of Buckingham palace—the largest event ever organised on the premises, with the BBC symphony orchestra and chorus leading a stirring musical performance. The royal family attended services of thanksgiving across the country and church bells rang out across the land to mark the national celebrations. Street parties took place in roads up and down the land, mirroring and surpassing the scale of those of the silver jubilee in 1977. A further concert was held at Buckingham palace featuring pop music over the previous 50 years. The Queen lit the national beacon at the Victoria memorial, which was the last in a string of beacons to be lit throughout the world, echoing Queen Victoria’s own golden jubilee in 1887.
The double bank holiday weekend culminated with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh riding in the golden state coach, accompanied by the entire royal family attending a national service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s cathedral, together with a magnificent military procession and a jubilee festival featuring singers and musicians performing alongside the numerous decorated floats processing along the Mall, illustrating British life throughout the years of her reign.
At the end of the festival, 5,000 adults and children from the Commonwealth nations marched along the Mall in national dress and presented a “rainbow of wishes” to Her Majesty, after which the Queen and Prince Philip greeted crowds from the palace balcony, before the magnificent spectacle of a fly-past by the Royal Air Force, the Red Arrows and Concorde. The events of that glorious weekend served to highlight the huge amount of support and affection that the Queen commands throughout the nation.
The great success of the golden jubilee means that we must strive to make the diamond jubilee an even greater celebration; and so, in 2012, let there be pomp and pageantry, together with grass-roots initiatives throughout the length and breadth of these islands. Let there be opportunities for people to celebrate in the ways that they think most appropriate to their families and communities, whether it be through street parties, voluntary groups, churches, schools, local authorities or businesses, or just gatherings of friends and loved ones in private homes. There must also be a dedicated weekend put aside for these events, with dedicated bank holidays, so that everyone can take part and enjoy the festivities.
This, Mr. Speaker, could be crowned by a huge international parade in which all Her Majesty’s realms and territories would be invited to demonstrate their pride through the streets of London. The parade should begin with a military procession encompassing every regiment and uniformed service, from the Coldstream Guards, the Royal Highland Fusiliers, the Welsh Guards and the Royal Irish Regiment to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, the Royal Australian Regiment and the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, and many more besides. All would have their part to play in this great and historic celebration of the Queen’s 60-year reign.
The parade should be followed by a carnival of people, animals, marching bands, vehicles and floats, featuring men and women of all ages, religions and races from each of our historic counties and great cities, to reflect the rich and diverse nature of the Kingdom, together with each and every one of Her Majesty’s realms and dependencies from Jersey to Jamaica, Bermuda to Belize, the Cook Islands to the Cayman Islands, St. Helena to St. Lucia, Alderney to Akrotiri and the Isle of Man to Norfolk Island. Let all the peoples who remain loyal to the Crown join these historic celebrations!
My aim today in bringing this Bill to Parliament is to draw attention to a highly significant event. Although 2012 is still over two years away, I believe that if the diamond jubilee is to pass off spectacularly, we need to begin fostering ideas and support today. It is only right and proper that, in the year of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s reign, we should celebrate that, and demonstrate our heartfelt thanks and steadfast loyalty."