A jubilee is a birthday celebration of Judeo-Christian origin that has been adapted to mark the milestones of a British monarch.
The biblical book of Leviticus directs people to “sanctify the fiftieth year…for it is the year of jubilee.”
Folders of the 14th century show that King Edward III celebrated 50 years on the throne, his Golden Jubilee, with a week-long joust and procession from the Tower of London.
Many of today’s jubilee traditions can be traced to the reign of George III – the king known for losing the American colonies and his struggle with Mental Health. The start of his 50th year on the throne was marked by religious services, parties, fireworks and memories.
When Queen Victoria reached her Diamond Jubilee (60 years) in 1897, there was a grand procession through London and a thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral. According to Britain’s Royal Collection, Victoria wrote in her log: “No one ever, I believe, met with such a standing ovation as that which I received while walking these 6 miles of streets.” She added: “The cheers were quite deafening and every face seemed filled with real joy. I was very moved and gratified.
Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is the first to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne.