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Love them or hate them, the Monarchy play a very particular role in British culture. Sometimes their activities are extraordinary, sometimes controversial, sometimes headline-grabbingly bewildering, and sometimes just a good reason for a proper knees-up!
From the 2nd – 5th June, schools, institutions, organisations, streets, households… indeed the great and the good throughout the UK will be celebrating 70 years of service by HRH Queen Elizabeth II.
This illustrious event combines the annual May bank holiday with an additional ‘special’ bank holiday, making way for a long weekend of festivities. Enjoyed by people of all ages, the typical Jubilee celebration consists of time-honoured traditional events such as: Trooping the colour at Horse Guards Parade, the Jubilee Pageant, a Jubilee Joust at Hampton Court (amongst other curios), plus parties and picnics up and down the country.
For many Londoners, the highlight of the long weekend will be the traditional street party where the road is closed, (by prior application to the Council), and local neighbours gather in the street to share a feast, and perhaps listen to music and play party games. (It is worth noting that these are by nature private parties organised and hosted by the residents of the street and not open to all and sundry).
With bunting strewn from streetlight to streetlight, trestles lined end-to-end to form a banqueting table, and patriotic decorations adorning the length, the street party is a site to behold. Many of us will have photos in our albums of previous events over the years. Celebrations past that invoke happy memories of neighbourly cameraderie. Overall, they have the impact of bring the occupants of the street, young and old, together in a congenial gathering that fosters good relations. A boon for community spirit and a benefit to the nation!
Look back in history and you’ll find that the Great British street party originated in 1919 in celebration of the end of WW1, aptly named ‘Peace Teas.’ They were a symbol of optimism and thanksgiving and mostly for the benefit of the children who had experienced so much deprivation during the War. It was an opportunity to share happiness and good cheer.
This activity was repeated at the Jubilee of King George V in 1935, again in 1937 upon the Coronation of George VII and were also a feature of VE and VJ days marking the end of World War II and have continued to proliferate ever since. The place of the street party has been firmly established in British life.
Whatever your plans for the weekend, we wish you a happy Jubilee and look forward to clinking a glass or two as we drink to your good health – not forgetting the Queen, of course, too!