Following on from my recent post on the Silver Jubilee of 1977, I thought I would jump forward twenty five years to the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, and take a look at what physical reminders you can still find here and there in London.
Several of the major celebrations for the Golden Jubilee took place in and around Buckingham Palace over the first weekend in June 2002. It played host to a Proms at the Palace event on Friday 1 June, and on Monday 4 June the Mall was lined with hundreds of thousands of people as a huge procession passed by. This featured floats depicting the various decades of the Queen’s reign, and was followed by a flypast of all types of the Royal Air Force aircraft in service at the time. This spectacle was topped off with a real coup , when a British Airways Concorde escorted by the Red Arrows flew overhead.
In terms of the structures that date from the period, the first to mention is the Queen’s Gallery, which sits on Buckingham Palace Rd (and which I visited for their latest exhibition a little earlier in the year). This building, which had housed Queen Victoria’s private chapel, suffered serious bomb damage during World War II and the opening of the gallery by the Queen on May 21 2002 marked the first time that it had been put to serious use since that time.
Hungerford Bridge, which carries trains leaving Charing Cross station, also owes its two pedestrian walkways to the Jubilee – the Golden Jubilee Footbridges. Despite their rather grand name they were actually opened by Princess Alexandra on 2 July 2003, although they’re arguably the most useful remnants of the Golden Jubilee. Previously, visitors on the opposite side of the river wanting to get to the Royal Festival Hall had to venture up or downstream to the Westminster and Waterloo bridges a good distance away.
Another much smaller reminder of that year can be found opposite the Palace of Westminster in Old Palace Yard, under the gaze of the Queen’s grandfather King George V. The Golden Jubilee sundial was commissioned by Parliament in 2002 – the inscription on the outer edge of the sundial is from Shakespeare’s Henry VI and reads:
To carve out dials quaintly, point by point, thereby to see the minutes how they run: how many makes the hour full complete, how many hours brings about the day, how many days will finish up the year, how many years a mortal man may live.
In terms of the artistic output associated with the Golden Jubilee, the official portrait of the Queen was painted that year by Nigerian artist Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy. Like the Silver Jubilee portrait, this can now be found in Marlborough House, the home of the Commonwealth Institute.
Of course the Jubilee Walkway also gained some length in the Golden Jubilee year, with the opening of the Camden Loop in 2003. This three mile section starts at Chancery Lane and takes in spots like the British Library and Coram’s Fields.