Happy and Glorious
Platinum Jubilee Exhibition
In 2022, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Platinum Jubilee. To celebrate her reign and longstanding association with the County, the Royal Berkshire Archive hosted an exhibition.
You can now experience that exhibition through this online gallery. Simply click through the headings for information and select the Display Cases to view the documents.
The Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II took place on 2 June 1953. She had ascended to the throne following the death of her father King George VI, on 6 February 1952. After a period of national mourning the coronation ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey where HRH Princess Elizabeth, aged 27, was crowned in front of 8,251 guests.
Communities across Berkshire came together to celebrate this momentous occasion. The Reading Standard reported on local activities including ‘processions and parades, carnivals and displays, sports and games and hundreds of teas’.
The Ministry of Food granted applications for people to roast oxen if they could prove that by tradition, an ox had been roasted at previous coronations. Wantage was one such fortunate town. The townspeople enjoyed this feast during a time when meat rationing was still in place.
On 13 June 1953, the Queen began her journey to Windsor Castle. The royal car took a slow drive through Slough for local people to watch and wave as it passed. The car stopped at the forecourt of the Granada Cinema where she was presented to local councillors, the Mayor and Mayoress, representatives from local clubs and other selected individuals. The Queen then proceeded to Agar’s Plough where she changed from the car to an open landau (carriage).
In Windsor, students from Ellington School, Maidenhead waited at Home Park in eager anticipation of the state entry of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh into Windsor Castle. Home Park had been reserved for school children only to join in the celebrations and cheer as the carriage went by.
On 2 June 1953, the townspeople of Newbury came together for the Coronation Carnival. This was reported to be the biggest show ever staged locally. The procession route, led by Newbury Town Band, began in Andover Road and ended in Stroud Green. The carnival included nearly 60 decorated vehicles, tableaux (figures representing a scene from history), fancy dress, window displays and various street parties.
Towards the end of the day, there was a display of fireworks at the football ground and dancing continued in Market Place late into the night. To remember the occasion, every school child in the Borough received a gift of a souvenir tin of chocolates, designed to be used as a pencil case after the treats were consumed.
HM Queen Elizabeth II has celebrated many jubilees during her 70-year reign, most notably the Silver Jubilee in 1977, the Golden Jubilee in 2002 and the Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
Within the Royal County of Berkshire, individuals and groups showed their loyalty and affection to the Queen by creating tributes and holding services to commemorate these occasions.
These tributes included a ‘tooled leather bound illuminated Loyal Address’, created by the Scout and Cub groups of Berkshire for the Silver Jubilee, ‘bearing the signatures of all SCOUTS in the Royal County’.
Another tribute, this time created for the Diamond Jubilee, was the result of a competition held by the Windsor and Eton Society. The challenge was to design a monument marking the Queen’s 60 years of service. The competition was won by teenager Caroline Basra with her design of a spiral of 60 spheres.
Various religious services have also been held to mark the Jubilees. Special verses and hymns have been written to be sung at these events. One example was for the Golden Jubilee when retired Bishop and noted hymn-writer, Timothy Dudley-Smith, wrote an extra verse for his well-loved hymn ‘Lord for the Years’. The new verse was sung as the 3rd verse.
The Queen’s jubilees have been a time of celebration. Large scale parties, parades and fetes have all been held over the years to celebrate the occasions.
The first major event celebrating the reign of Her Majesty was the Silver Jubilee in 1977. Whilst the actual anniversary of her accession took place in February, most of the celebrations took place in the summer. This included parades, sporting occasions, fetes and plays.
The main event that took place in Berkshire to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee was the Berkshire Golden Youth Event held at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre on Friday 10 May 2002. Over 1000 children were invited to the event where they demonstrated their skills and achievements in sport, arts, culture, leisure and community service.
Celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee centred around the extended weekend in June 2012. Formal events included a pageant on the river Thames and a concert organised at Buckingham Palace. This was followed by the Queen lighting the National Beacon, one of a series of beacons that were lit across the UK.
Communities were encouraged to organise their own events as well. The villages of Goring and Streatley combined to form a street party 1km long that was able to seat almost 4000 people. Even the wet weather could not put people off!
To celebrate the Platinum Jubilee, communities were encouraged to take part in the Big Jubilee Lunch. A Platinum Pageant also took place in London.
Plant a Tree for the Jubilee
‘The Queen’s Green Canopy’ was one of the themes for the Platinum Jubilee. During 2022 local groups and individuals have been encouraged to plant trees to enhance our environment and ‘to create a legacy in honour of the Queen’s leadership of the nation, which will benefit future generations’.
Tree planting has been one of the ways that past jubilees have been celebrated. In addition to tree planting, The Queen’s Green Canopy is identifying 70 ancient trees to celebrate Her Majesty’s 70 years of service. In Berkshire, we have one of the oldest trees in the country with its own ancient royal connections. The Ankewycke Yew in Wraysbury is thought to be about 2000 years old and is believed to be the last living witness to the sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215.
Other old surviving trees can often be seen in Church graveyards whilst local landed estates have historically contained most of the woods and forests in the county.
The Queen and Berkshire
HM Queen Elizabeth II has had a long connection with Berkshire during her reign. Windsor Castle is both a private home of the Queen and an official Royal residence at which she carries out formal duties, such as hosting state visits.
Prior to her ascension to the throne, HRH Princess Elizabeth was presented with an illuminated scroll on the occasion of her being awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Windsor in 1947. This is the highest award that the council can bestow on an individual. It is awarded to people who have made a significant contribution to the locality or have achieved something outstanding.
The Queen has made many visits to the county for a variety of occasions to meet local people. The Royal Berkshire Archive holds documents that demonstrate her commitment to her royal duties, including watching bun throwing from Abingdon Town Hall 1956, viewing wares on display in a Women’s Institute tent at the Royal Counties Show in Windsor 1961 and visiting Bisham Abbey on the occasion of the presentation of the Charter for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in 1974.
Since 1813, the monarchy has presented new regimental flags or ‘Colours’ at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) in Sandhurst, where officers in the British Army are trained, to mark a special anniversary or event.
Many Berkshire businesses have supplied goods or services to the Household of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Vincents of Reading, the world-renowned coachbuilders and horsebox manufacturers, produced horseboxes for the Queen.
Huntley & Palmers of Reading had the honour of being entrusted with making the Wedding Cake for the marriage of HRH Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN in 1947. It was designed to demonstrate the widespread activities and interests of the couple through illustrated plaques made with sugar. This included Commonwealth shields, a race at Ascot, HMS Valiant, Windsor Castle and a casket presented to a Freeman of the Borough of Windsor.
For the Queen’s coronation, Reading brewers H & G Simonds, supplied beer to spectators along the procession route. A 450-gallon mobile tanker was positioned in Green Park, near Buckingham Palace, and bottles of Simonds beer were sold in catering marquees.
Many businesses across Berkshire have celebrated the Queen and her reign with commemorative products. Huntley, Boorne & Stevens produced biscuit tins for Huntley & Palmers, Biscuit and Cake Manufacturers of Reading to mark royal events. Similarly, Aldermaston Pottery designed a mug for the Silver Jubilee in 1977.