We’ve had a Diamond Jubilee once before in this country, in 1897, when old Queen Victoria agreed to become part of a major pro-monarchy marketing push. She had been a bit of an old misery-guts since her husband, Prince Albert died in 1841 and for some time, well for years actually, stayed indoors and, according to some of her subjects, neglected her duties. She had been a lively enough little thing in her youth but the old lady just wasn’t coming across as much fun or, even worse, worth all the money spent on her.
She was persuaded to mark the sixtieth anniversary of her reign with a brilliant new idea. The marketing men got her to celebrate a rather premature Diamond Jubilee, seventy five years. Well, she was nearly 80 and it seemed a bit risky to wait until 15 years because, a, she might not (and didn’t in fact) live that long and, b, the monarchy might not last that long either if she didn’t get her royal finger out and show her face round town. I wonder what they would have celebrated if she did spend 75 years on the throne. Maybe we will find out this time round since our modern queen looks in much better nick than her ancestor.
So anyway, Queen Victoria agreed to the plan. She posed for some cheery royal photographs and entered the spirit of Jubilee.
It all looks very familiar these days, the ancient pageantry of processions in carriages, very posh people waving to their inferiors accompanied by soldiers on horseback but in 1897 this was all new and the crowds turned out in their thousands and loved it.
Here she is, under her parasol even, if my eyes don’t deceive me, managing to raise a smile on that solemn face.
It was a triumph and the rest is, as they say, history – well ancient history invented overnight and done very stylishly ever since.
If you’re bored by seeing our current Monarch celebrating Jubilee, then take a look at these fascinating newsreel films of the original Jubilee processions – nothing changes much, there’s just a few more smiley faces:
Here’s the Queen in her carriage again:
Here she is in close-up:
and here’s the whole thing – well enough of it anyway: