Queen Elizabeth II’s Sapphire Jubilee Takes On Low-Key Tone

David Bailey, via Buckingham Palace
LONDON — To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s sapphire jubilee on Monday, marking 65 years on the British throne, there were new coins, a new stamp, gun salutes, and a reissued portrait taken by a famed photographer.

The only thing missing? The queen, who, in keeping with past practice on the anniversary itself, planned to observe the day privately, with a quiet reflective commemoration at her estate in Sandringham, in eastern England.

Grander celebrations are in the works for the platinum jubilee in 2022.

What is the jubilee?

Royal jubilees commemorate the life and reign of monarchs. Elizabeth, 90, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, is the first British sovereign to hold a sapphire jubilee.

The events were relatively muted compared to the silver (25 years), gold (50 years) and diamond (60 years) jubilees, which were celebrated with large-scale festivities across Britain. There was a ruby jubilee to mark Elizabeth’s 40 years as queen, but that anniversary was also low-key.

Few British monarchs have reached the 50-year milestone. King George III and Queen Victoria marked their golden jubilees with huge celebrations.

How is the queen celebrating the day?

Elizabeth was expected to spend the anniversary at Sandringham, and there will be no broader celebrations in coming days, as there had been for previous jubilees. She was apparently in “good spirits” at a church service on Sunday, local news outlets reported.

There have been concerns about the queen’s health ever since she missed church services on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Day because of what Buckingham Palace described as a “heavy cold.” Those absences were the first time in about 30 years that she had missed a holiday service.

The queen made her first public appearance this year on Jan. 8, after a month’s absence. She celebrated her diamond jubilee, in 2012, with a series of events, including a floating pageant on the River Thames and a tour across Britain.

How are Britons celebrating?

A traditional 41-gun royal salute was held at Green Park in London. That was followed by a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London.

A 2014 portrait of the queen, taken by the British photographer David Bailey, wearing sapphire jewelry given to her by her father, King George VI, as a wedding gift in 1947, was published as part of the commemoration. The Royal Mail issued a stamp worth 5 pounds, or about $6.25, to mark her accession to the throne, and ranges of special jubilee coins have been cast by the Royal Mint to mark the occasion, with one worth about £50,000.

Prime Minister Theresa May congratulated the queen on behalf of the nation, calling her an “inspiration.”

“It is a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation that she is not marking becoming the first monarch to reign for 65 years with any special celebration, but instead getting on with the job to which she has dedicated her life,” Mrs. May said in a statement.


Queen Elizabeth II celebrates Sapphire Jubilee

Queen Elizabeth II, the world's longest-reigning living monarch, has celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee as Britain commemorates 65 years since she ascended the throne.

The 90-year-old monarch, who became the kingdom's longest-reigning sovereign in 2015, did not publicly mark the occasion herself, but a 41-gun royal salute was fired in a central London park to honour the landmark.

"Today's Sapphire Jubilee marks yet another remarkable milestone for our remarkable Queen," Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.

"It is a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation that she is not marking becoming the first monarch to reign for 65 years with any special celebration, but instead getting on with the job to which she has dedicated her life."

Elizabeth became Queen aged 25 on February 6, 1952, following the death of her father George VI.

She is the 41st monarch in a royal line that traces its origin back to Norman King William the Conqueror who claimed the throne in 1066.

When she overtook her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria's record of 63 years on the throne, she remarked it was not something to which she had ever aspired.

Buckingham Palace said she would spend Monday at her residence in Sandringham, eastern England, as was usual.

However, the Queen's office released a 2014 portrait showing her wearing a suite of sapphire jewellery she received from her father as a wedding gift in 1947.

She turned 90 on April 21, 2016, and has been the world's oldest monarch since the death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah in 2015.

The Queen has cut back on international tours but still regularly performs official duties around Britain and remains hugely popular with Britons, with an approval rating of about 80 per cent.

In December she said she would reduce the number of her patronages, passing on her role at dozens of charities, academic institutions and sporting groups to other members of the royal family.

She has four children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Her eldest son, Prince Charles, is next in line to the British throne.


Queen Elizabeth's 65 Years on the Throne, in 65 Numbers

Feb. 6 marks Queen Elizabeth II's sapphire jubilee, marking the first time a British monarch has celebrated a 65-year reign.

The Queen, who is the world's longest-reigning monarch, plans to celebrate the historic anniversary in private, at her Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, east of the U.K., while royal gun salutes will commemorate the occasion across London. Here, a look at her 23,742 days on the throne in 65 numbers:

1
Queen Elizabeth II has become the first British monarch to reach their Sapphire Jubilee

1.3 million
The number of people who signed a petition calling for President Donald Trump's state visit to be cancelled "to avoid embarrassing Queen Elizabeth"
1.38 million
The number of followers, in millions, of a parody Twitter account of the Queen's

2
The Queen owns two Corgis (Holly and Willow). She also has two Dorgis (Vulcan and Candy), which are a cross between a corgi and a dachshund
Play Video
90 Years of Queen Elizabeth II

2.2 billion
The number of people that live in a Commonwealth country (a group of 52 nations, of which 16 have the Queen as Head of State), across all six continents

2.75 million
The number of followers that the Royal Family's official Twitter account has

3
The number of the Queen's children who have been divorced

4
The Queen has four children in total: Charles, Anne, Edward and Andrew

5
The value in pounds of a coin minted this year to celebrate the Queen's anniversary. The equivalent in U.S. dollars would be $6.24

5.4
The number of feet and inches tall that the Queen is

6
In 1981, a teenager was arrested for firing six blank cartridges at the Queen as she rode on horseback before the Trooping the Colour ceremony
8
The number of grandchildren that the Queen has: Peter, Zara, William, Harry, Beatrice, Eugenie, Louise and James

11
The number of choral anthems commissioned for a choir-book to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012

12
The number of U.S. presidents the Queen has met with over the years

13
The number of U.K. prime ministers who have held office since the start of the Queen's reign. The first was Winston Churchill (1951-55), the latest is Theresa May

14
The age the Queen was when she made her first radio broadcast

15
The number of Commonwealth nations, excluding the U.K., that share Queen Elizabeth II as their Head of State. Each of these nations are governed separately

16
The age of the Queen when she registered with the Labour Exchange, a British employment agency, as Princess Elizabeth

21
The age that the Queen was when she married Prince Philip on Nov. 20, 1947

23
The number of waxworks of the Queen that have been showcased by Madame Tussauds over the years

25
The age the Queen was when she acceded to the throne in 1952

27 million
Roughly the number of people who watched the Queen’s coronation on TV in 1952

28 million
The number of people who tuned onto the BBC at 3pm in 1980 to listen to the Queen's annual Christmas message - a record

29
The date in May 1926 that she was christened in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace
30
The number of the Queen's godchildren
31
The number of years ago that the Queen became the first British monarch to visit China, in 1986

33
The length of time the Queen did not visit Wimbledon from the 1970s until quite recently. In 2010, she made her first visit to Wimbledon since 1977, for an Andy Murray match

39 million
The estimated value, in dollars, of the Queen's jewellery, sapphires and all

40
The Queen is the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England
41
The number of guns used for a salute by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery in London's Green Park on Feb. 6 at 12pm local time to celebrate the Sapphire Jubilee

63
The number of official speeches the Queen has delivered at the opening of the U.K. Parliament

65
On Feb. 6, the anniversary of the day she became Queen, Elizabeth II will have reigned for 65 years

70
The number of years that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have been married

72
The number of years ago that the Queen learned to drive
75
The estimated percentage of Australia that managed to see the Queen when she toured the country in 1953

77
The age of Queen Victoria when she became the last and only other British monarch to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee (60 years), in 1897. She died four years later.

83
The number of public engagements the Queen undertook on her Diamond Jubilee U.K. regional tour in 2012

85
The number of years ago that the first Royal Christmas address was made. The 1932 speech was written by Rudyard Kipling and delivered by the Queen's grandfather, King George V

89
The number of horses that will pull six First World War-era field guns into position in Green Park to mark the Sapphire Jubilee on Feb. 6

90
The Queen's age

96
The number of rubies in the Queen’s Burmese tiara

100
The estimated number of outfits the monarch took on her first Commonwealth tour

101
The age that the Queen's mother, Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, died at in 2002

117
The number of countries the Queen has visited on official royal tours - despite allegedly not owning a passport

130 million
The reported cost, in dollars, of Netflix’s series The Crown, which tells the Queen's story beginning with her marriage

187.25
The amount, in dollars, that people paid for tickets for a picnic lunch held to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday in June 2016. There were torrential downpours that day

237
The number of roads in the U.K. named after the Queen

302
The Queen's ranking in the list of richest people in the U.K. by the Sunday Times newspaper

314
The number of years ago that the core of Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official London residence was built. It was originally designed to be the country home of the Conservative Party politician and poet John Sheffield

425 million
The monarch’s estimated net worth, in dollars

457 million
The amount, in dollars, that is estimated to be spent on a Buckingham Palace refurbishment program that will last 10 years
550
The estimated number of horses that performed for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee pageant in 2012

656
The average number of words in the Queen's annual Christmas message

775
The number of rooms in Buckingham Palace
2,868
The number of diamonds in the Imperial state crown

5,000
The number of breeding pairs of mute swans in Britain that are officially owned by the Queen

7,000
The estimated number of telephone calls that Buckingham Palace receives per week

10,000
The number of guests at the street party that was held for the monarch’s 90th birthday

17, 420
The number of pieces of mail the Queen received during the week of her 90th birthday


23,742
The number of days that the Queen has spent on the throne, from Feb. 6, 2017

50,000
The number of guests, on average, that are invited every year to garden parties, dinners and other events hosted by the Queen

90,000
Approximately the number of Christmas puddings the Queen has given out to staff, continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI

170,000
Roughly the number of telegrams the Queen has sent to centenarians in the U.K. and Commonwealth.

230,873
The Queen’s designated number in the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service, which she joined during World War Two
249,500
The amount, in dollars, that the Queen sued The Sun newspaper for after it published a leaked copy of her Christmas broadcast in 1992

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