WHEN Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee at the age of 78 in 1897, Yorkshire was at the heart of the celebrations.
The hymn O King of Kings was written by the Bishop of Wakefield specifically for the event and on June 20 it was sung in chapels and churches up and down the country. In the century that has passed much has changed and the plans to mark the current Queen’s Diamond Jubilee have not run entirely smoothly. Most of the criticism has been levelled at the cost of the celebrations, focused on the first weekend of June, at a time when the country’s finances hang on a precipice. Others have suggested public disinterest with the Royals will turn the event into a costly damp squib.
However, when it comes to high profile calendar events, apathy is the British way. In the run up to the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 newspapers reported on a similar lack of enthusiasm for the big day. However, by the time the Royal carriage pulled up outside Westminster Abbey crowds of well-wishers lined the streets and sales of television sets had soared.
It was the same for the Golden Jubilee back in 2002, but when Brian May performed God Save the Queen on the roof of Buckingham Palace everyone forgot they weren’t supposed to be enjoying themselves. History is likely to repeat itself this summer and the announcement of an extra public bank holiday on June 5 has already helped the party mood. While increasing rules and regulations means the number of street parties is likely to be well down on 1977 when there was a run on trestle tables and potted meat, a number of large scale events have already been planned in Yorkshire.
Jubilee fever has certainly reached Bradford with the city leading the way with more than 70 Jubilee events taking place over the coming months and it has even reached Hull, the city which hit the headlines when not a single application for a street party to mark the wedding of Prince William was received by the local council.
While the city’s residents may have shunned the Royal nuptials, they won’t be able to avoid the Jubilee with Hull playing host to one of the county’s most spectacular events. On June 4 up to 60 vessels will sail into Hull Marina as part of a recreation of the flotilla held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign.
Led by three tugs spraying water from their gun decks, the fleet, stretching half a mile, will then make its way to the Humber Bridge in an event orchestrated by John Medland, commodore of Hull Sailing Club.
“It is an outstanding achievement to reach 60 years on the throne,” he said. “People love to have a whinge about the Royal Family, but in my view they represent the British Isles superbly and this should be a fantastic event.”
Many of the events being staged in the region are focused on children and one highlight is set to be the Leeds Children’s Diamond Jubilee Concert on May 30, just ahead of the main celebrations. It’s the brainchild of Dame Fanny Waterman, who as the founder of the Leeds International Piano Competition, knows a thing or two about staging high profile musical events. The seeds of the concert were sown when Dame Fanny saw children who had never heard a note of music being given their first lesson by a teacher from Leeds Arts Forum. Since last September, more than 500 children from disadvantaged schools across the city have been learning the likes of Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory for a Last Night of the Proms style concert in the city’s town hall.
A celebration of the county’s talent is the focus of many events, with the Yorkshire Business and Arts Festival also doing its bit to pay tribute to the Queen’s reign. Around 600 people are expected to attend the gala dinner in Leeds on June 16, which will feature performances from Northern Ballet and West End stars of Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. Towns and cities across the county have already announced plans for Jubilee carnivals and summer fayres, while cathedrals from Bradford to Ripon will be hosting special services throughout June.
However, there is one event which looks set to unite much of the county. Earlier this year, Buckingham Palace announced plans to light 2012 beacons across the length and breadth of the UK and Pateley Bridge, Leeds, Bradford and Ripon have all now signed up to the event.
While fervent Royalists will need no excuse to hang out the bunting those behind the region’s events are hopeful the Jubilee will inspire mass participation.
“Never again in people’s lifetime will they get to celebrate a monarch being on the throne for 60 years,” said Steve Duncan, chief executive officer of the Community Foundation in Calderdale, an area which already has 40 events stretching into 2013. “Plus it’s a good excuse for a party and a get together in these depressing times.”
Needless to say not everyone will heed the advice. While Sheffield City Council has announced it will rename the Woodhouse Mill recreation ground Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate the event and Rotherham has plans for a 1950s style party in the town centre, Barnsley, Doncaster, Tadcaster and Selby councils have yet to finalise any celebrations.
“The interest in the monarch has dwindled considerably over the last 20 or 30 years,” said Graham Smith of the anti-monarchy campaigning group, which is organising the Protest at the Pageant event in London. “The pattern we are seeing across the country is that people just do not care about the Royal Family despite what some people would have us believe.”
The day after Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, she wrote in her diary: “The streets were beautifully decorated, also the balconies of the houses, with flowers, flags and draperies of every hue.”
This time, the bunting may be harder to find, but the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee still looks set to go down in history.
The Queen’s Jubilee in Yorkshire...the story so far
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March 16: South Asian arts organisation Kala Sangham launch their new premises with dance events, St Peter’s House, Foster Square, Bradford. 01274 303340, www.kalasangam.org.
March 17: South Asian arts organisation Kala Sangham continue the celebrations with a day of public events and a concert by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, St Peter’s House, Foster Square, Bradford. 01274 303340, www.kalasangam.org.
March 26: Jubilee concert featuring a classic programme for music lovers, including the march written for the Queen’s Coronation. Conducted by Gordon Stewart. Huddersfield Town Hall, 01484 223200, www.kirklees.gov.uk/townhalls.
April 3 to 7: Diamond Jubilee showing of Matthew Bourne’s production of the Nutcracker as it celebrates its 20th anniversary, Alhambra Theatre, Bradford. 01274 432000, www.bradford-theatres.com.
April 6 to June 17: Opening of an exhibition of work by Royal photographer Marcus Adams which will showcase photographs from the Queen’s childhood, Harewood House, Leeds. 0113 218 1000, www.harewood.org
April 21: Lord Mayor’s Jubilee Ball with a Diamonds and Daffodils theme in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care, Hilton Hotel, Bradford.
May 1: Opening of the Jubilee Lecture Theatre with a lecture the Changing Face of Britain 1952 – 2012, Huddersfield University. Tickets available from [email protected]
May 8 to June 17: Opening of the new Cecil Beaton exhibition featuring the famous photographer’s portraits of Elizabeth II, from young princess to reigning monarch and mother, Leeds City Museum. 0113 224 3732, www.leeds.gov.uk/citymuseum.
May 13: Service of celebration with the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, Bradford Cathedral. 01274 777720, www.bradfordcathedral.co.uk
May 15: Diamond Jubilee showing of The King and I, Alhambra Theatre, Bradford. 01274 432000, www.bradford-theatres.com.
May 18: Huddersfield Giants vs Wigan Warriors in a Diamond Jubilee match. 01484 484123, www.giantsrl.com
May 18: Leeds Rhinos vs St Helens in a Diamond Jubilee match, 0871 423 1315, www.leedsrugby.co.uk
May 24: Diamond Jubilee Business Conference, The Shay, Halifax. 01924 284524, www.calderdalebusinessconference.co.uk
May 30: Children’s Jubilee Concert arranged by Dame Fanny Waterman will feature more than 500 children from disadvantaged schools from across Leeds, Leeds Town Hall. 0113 224 3801, www.leedsconcertseason.com
May 31: Orchestra of Opera North Jubilee Concert,
including the march written for the Queen’s Coronation and the suite from the opera Gloriana commissioned to mark the Coronation, Huddersfield Town Hall. 01484 223200, www.kirklees.gov.uk/townhalls.
June 1: Jubilee Civic Service, Leeds Parish Church. 0113 245 2036, www.leedsparishchurch.org.uk
June 2: Leeds Philharmonic Chorus concert featuring a programme of celebratory music by Handel and Mozart in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Leeds Town Hall. 0113 224 3801, www.leedsconcertseason.com.
June 2: Diamond Jubilee celebration party, Silsden Park, Bradford
June 2: Rotherham town centre will be transformed into a 1950s style street party with traditional fairground rides and entertainment.
June 3: Wetherby street party. The town’s market place will be closed for local bands, children’s entertainment and rides.
June 3: Party in the town, Calverley Park, Leeds.
June 3: The Big Lunch, a one-day get together for neighbours is being organised across the country. Various events are already planned for Yorkshire. To find out more visit www.thebiglunch.com.
June 3 to 5: Ripon Cathedral will provide a focal point of events with a Jubilee service, and street party in the nave. 01765 603462, www.riponcathedral.org.uk
June 4: A flotilla of boats will gather on the Humber estuary in a recreation of a pageant staged in 1897. Full details nearer the time.
June 4: Jubilee Beacons will be lit across the country to mark the Queen’s Jubilee with events planned across Yorkshire. For full details visit www.jubileebeacons.co.uk
June 15: Diamond Jubilee Tea Dance orgainsed by Bradford College. www.bradfordcollege.co.uk
June 16: Yorkshire Business dinner as part of the Yorkshire Business and Arts Festival and featuring performances by the likes of Northern Ballet. By invitation only. For further details visit ww.ybaf.biz.
June 20: Jubilee Armed Forces Day and Freedom Parade, Bradford Centenary Square and City Park, from 11am.
June 30 to July 1: Leeds Waterfront Festival with a Diamond Jubilee theme. Featuring live music, local bands, arts and dance, on the water activities and canal boats, Granary Wharf, Brewery Wharf. Clarence Dock. 07917 780151, www.leedswaterfrontfestival.com.
July 29: Diamond Jubilee carnival parade, Keighley, from 11.30am.
August 2: Diamond Jubilee Test Match between England and South Africa, Headingley, Leeds. 0871 971 1222, www.yorkshireccc.com
August 27 to 29: The annual Leeds West Indian Carnival this year embraces a Diamond Jubilee theme, Chapeltown, Leeds. Events run from August 27 with the main carnival on August 29.
September 3: Jubilee service, St Anne’s Cathedral, Leeds. 0113 242 5242, www.dioceseofleeds.org.uk/cathedral.