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What is a Jubilee?

logo for the 2022 Platinum Jubilee


Many occasions mark out significant moments in the reign of a monarch. These include celebrations that are special to most people, such as wedding anniversaries or birthdays, but they also include anniversaries that are unique to the monarch. Significant dates include the anniversary of the accession (they day they became king or queen); the coronation (the day they were crowned king or queen); and finally special occasions called Jubilees.

A jubilee is a celebration of the life and reign of a monarch. Rather than happening every year, Jubilees only mark significant milestones, making them more special. Each Jubilee has a name, used to reflect a certain length of time:

  • Silver Jubilee: marks 25 years on the throne
  • Ruby Jubilee: 40 years
  • Golden Jubilee: 50 years
  • Diamond Jubilee: 60 years
  • Sapphire Jubilee: 65 years
  • Platinum Jubilee: 70 years

The first British monarch to celebrate 50 years on the throne was George III, more than 200 years ago in 1809. His Golden Jubilee was marked by formal ceremonies and services, as well as a fete and a firework display. 

Queen Victoria was the first monarch to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years on the throne in 1897. The occasion was marked by a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, and a grand procession through the streets of London which were lined with well-wishers cheering for the Queen. Victoria later wrote in her journal: ‘No one ever, I believe, has met with such an ovation as was given to me, passing through those 6 miles of streets … The cheering was quite deafening & every face seemed to be filled with real joy. I was much moved and gratified’. 

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2002, and her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. In 2022, Her Majesty The Queen will become the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. To mark the 70 years of Her Majesty’s reign, there will be many celebrations, including an extended bank holiday weekend, public events, lighting of beacons, services, pageants and many more activities over the course of this special year.

Downloadable PDF teacher resources

What is a Jubilee? Presentation

What is a Jubilee? Presentation teacher notes

Explore our linked images and objects

Anne Desmet (b. 1964)

Olympic Shadows 2011

After Matthew Cotes Wyatt (1777-1862)

A Jubilee at Frogmore c.1809