Buckingham Palace has announced a series of events to mark the Queen’s 70 years as monarch, including a national dessert contest and more than 1,400 Big Jubilee Lunches.
The Queen succeeded to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952, when her father, King George VI, died in his sleep at Sandringham House. She was 25 years old at the time and she is now the longest serving monarch in British history.
To celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, numerous events have been planned throughout Britain, Canada and other Commonwealth countries this year. Most of the activity in the United Kingdom will occur during a special four-day long weekend from June 2 to June 5.
The events will include a baking contest to develop a special pudding – what the British call dessert – in honour of the Queen, according to an announcement from Buckingham Palace on Sunday. Anyone in the U.K. over the age of 8 can submit a recipe and five finalists will be selected to prepare their desserts for a judging panel that will include famed British baking expert Mary Berry and Mark Flanagan, the head chef at Buckingham Palace.
“The winning recipe will be made available to the public and the pudding will be enjoyed at Big Jubilee Lunches during the Jubilee weekend, and by generations to come,” palace officials said in a statement.
Royal officials said that more than 1,400 people have registered to hold Big Jubilee Lunches across the U.K. that weekend – from street parties to neighbourhood picnics. The Big Lunch initiative began in 2009 as a way to encourage community building by having a day to bring neighbours together. The first Big Jubilee Lunch was held in 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
This year, more than 200,000 cities, towns and villages throughout the U.K. are expected to hold some kind of local celebration, officials added.
Although the Queen was born on April 21 – she’ll turn 96 this year – her birthday is traditionally celebrated on the second Saturday in June with a military parade known as the Trooping of the Colour. This year’s trooping parade will be held on June 2 and it will involve 1,200 soldiers and hundreds of army musicians and horses, officials said. A series of light beacons will also be lit across the U.K. and in every capital city of the Commonwealth.
There are also plans for a special service in St. Paul’s Cathedral and a concert “bringing together some of the world’s biggest entertainment stars to celebrate some of the most significant moments from the Queen’s reign,” according the palace.
London will host a Platinum Pageant during the weekend, which will include street artists, dancers and musicians from across the Commonwealth. Roughly 200 silk flags designed by schoolchildren will be put up along The Mall in what organizers say will resemble a “River of Hope.”
In Canada, the federal government is providing grants of up to $5,000 for communities to host Jubilee events such as concerts, tree planting and parades.
The Jubilee comes after a trying period for the Queen. Last year, she lost her husband, Prince Philip, who died on April 9 at the age of 99. She also suffered health issues last fall that forced her to spend a night in hospital and curtail many official duties.
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