The 2012 Olympics isn't the only event that will be capturing the attention of the global media this summer. Along with feats of great athletic endurance, the world will be celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's 60th year as Monarch. Read on for a look into the fascinating reign of the Queen and how you can join in with the celebrations, no matter where you happen to live.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, as she was then known, was born on 21st April 1926 to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. She was third in the line of succession when she was born and no one expected her father, the Duke of York, to become king. Yet become king he did and when he died on Wednesday 6th February 1952, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary ascended to the throne. The coronation took place on 2nd June 1953 and so began the second longest reign in British history to date spanning six decades.
A reign to relish
Queen Elizabeth's reign has seen incredible social and technological change but here are some interesting facts that may not have made the headlines. In any typical year, the Queen will host over 50,000 people at receptions, dinners, lunches and banquets. Imagine trying to get the tea stains out of those tablecloths! The number of honours she has given out during her reign, standing at an incredible 404,500, dwarfs the number. This is only matched by the number of telegrams she has sent out to couples celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary - 540,000!
The Queen is a practising philanthropist and is currently the patron of more than 600 charities. She has been involved with over 400 of them since 1952. She is also generous with her own staff. Continuing a tradition established by King George V, she has given out Christmas puddings every year and has so far notched up a total of 90,000. She is also an avid animal lover, signified by her ever-present corgi dogs but did you know she actually created her own breed called the 'dorgi' when one of her corgis bred with a dachshund called Pipkin which belonged to Princess Margaret? There have since been 10 dorgis - Berry, Brandy, Candy, Chipper, Cider, Harris, Pickles, Piper, Tinker and Vulcan.
The Diamond Jubilee itself
The central celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee will happen over the weekend between the 2nd and 5th June with parties across the length and breadth of the UK. There is a Jubilee bank holiday on Tuesday 5th and the late May bank holiday has also been moved back a week to form a four-day weekend. The Queen will attend the Epsom Derby on the Saturday before The Big Jubilee Lunch and Pageant in London on Sunday. There will be hundreds of people lining the Thames to see the 100 boats assembled from across the UK so arrive early to make sure you have a good view! The Queen is encouraging people to get together and share lunches on the Sunday in the form of street parties and picnics. If you're planning on honouring her Majesty by dressing up in your Sunday best, you may want to pack a travel-sized stain remover to deal with those nasty grass or food stains before they take hold. This useful item will prove just as popular as a tray of cakes with your neighbours!
If you fancy journeying into London for a fun-filled family day out you may want to consider attending the two-day Jubilee Family Festival in Hyde Park. As well as live music, entertainment, a Disney Zone and a Parade Ground, there will also be lots of delicious traditional British food available such as pies, pastries, jellied eels and cream teas. Just remember to look out for one another over the weekend, stay safe and have fun!