A History Moment: The Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee

This past Monday, February 6th, Queen Elizabeth II of England, my former monarch, celebrated 65 years on the throne. It’s a bittersweet celebration for the Queen since this also marks the 65th anniversary of the death of her father, King George VI. According to the people who determine these things, 65 years is a “sapphire” celebration. The Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 1977 (25 years, and I still remember our street party), her Golden Jubilee in 2002 (50 years), and her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 (60 years). She is, however, the first British monarch to celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee. Not even Queen Victoria managed that–she reigned a mere 63-and-some-months years. King George “I-want-my-colonies-back” III just missed his Diamond Jubilee, spending 59 years on the throne. King Henry III (1216-1272) and King Edward III (1327-1377) both achieved Golden Jubilees, which is quite remarkable for monarchs in the middle ages!

A point of interest. Some books cite Queen Elizabeth’s reign as starting in 1953. As I understand it, most monarchs are usually crowned shortly after the death of the previous monarch, so their coronation year usually matches the year the title passed to them (the year of ascension). In Elizabeth’s case, her father died on February 6th, 1952, but she wasn’t actually crowned queen until June 2, 1953. Part of the reason for the 14 month delay was to properly observe a period of national mourning for the dead King. But 14 months seems a long time. Other than allowing time for the extensive preparations (which included the first time a coronation would be televised live), I’m not sure why it took so long. But that’s why some books say she has been queen since 1953–they’re looking at the actual coronation date, not the ascension date. Most historians go with the ascension date, making this year her Sapphire Jubilee year.

Given the Queen is 90 years old, and her mother lived to 101, she might yet get to Platinum (70 years). We’ll see… 🙂

Our “street” (more like “cul-de-sac”) Silver Jubilee party in our
neighbor’s back yard. June, 1977. That’s me in the bottom left corner. 🙂

2 thoughts on “A History Moment: The Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee

  1. AJ Blythe

    Being a Commonwealth country we’ve had a lot of media about the anniversary. I have to say, she is doing amazingly well for someone her age – maybe it’s the lack of sunlight in the UK, but she looks younger than her years!

    1. cds Post author

      I’m sure there has been a lot of press about the event there, AJ! I don’t know about lack of sunlight; there do seem to be some healthy genes running in her blood, though.

      Something I meant to mention in the article: just think, anyone under the age of 60 has never known another monarch on the throne of England. Indeed, if most people don’t remember anything before they were five years old, you can up that number to age 70. That includes anyone born after the end of World War II. Compare that to someone born in 1890 who, by their 60th birthday, would have seen five monarchs (Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, and George VI). And, if they live a few more years, would see a sixth (Elizabeth) to the throne.


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