Our retrospective on the remarkable life of Queen Elizabeth II draws to a close today with one final moment of sparkle and glitter: the unprecedented Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
No British monarch before Queen Elizabeth II had ever celebrated a Platinum Jubilee—70 years on the throne—and it’s not a feat we’ll likely see repeated in any of our lifetimes. The Queen was unable to attend all of the events on the jubilee schedule, but the appearances she did make will last in our collective memory for a very long time.
The Queen’s accession day is February 6, and Buckingham Palace released several new official photos of the Queen two days ahead of the anniversary to mark the beginning of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The images, taken in January, show the Queen in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle. She wears the diamond and aquamarine clips gifted to her by her father, King George VI, as an 18th birthday present in 1944. The brooches were a reminder that her accession day is also the anniversary of her beloved father’s passing.
On February 5, the Queen held a reception with representatives from local community groups in the ballroom at Sandringham House, where she traditionally spent her accession day. She wore another pair of brooches that hearken back to her youth: the small Nizam of Hyderabad Rose Brooches, part of a suite made by Cartier and given to the then-princess as a wedding present in November 1947.
The Queen spent her accession day privately in 2022. But the palace did release one more poignant photograph of the Queen, flanked by one of the famous royal boxes that contain state papers and a photograph of King George VI. Those parts of the image reflect the job, but the brooches she wears in the picture are a symbol of family. She chose to wear the Greville Ivy Leaf Clips, which were a 21st birthday gift from her mother, presented to her during the African royal tour in 1947. They were also the last brooches she wore in public before becoming Queen. I wrote a lengthy article in February about the symbolism of the three pairs of brooches: twinned jewels, reinforcing the idea that no monarch reigns alone, all with links to her beloved father, mother, and husband.
In May, the Queen attended “A Gallop Through History,” a special Platinum Jubilee pageant at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
She wore her signature pearls—pearl and diamond earrings and a three-stranded pearl necklace—with a wrap decorated with crystal embellishments for the show.
Two days later, the Queen made a surprise appearance in London for another jubilee-related engagement: the official opening of the Elizabeth Line, a passenger rail service that runs from Reading and Heathrow Airport to Abbey Wood and Shenfield.
For the occasion, she wore a beloved diamond and gold brooch that was gifted to her during her Diamond Jubilee in 2012: the Bird of Paradise Jubilee Brooch.
In June, a full weekend of Platinum Jubilee celebrations were held in London. The festivities kicked off with Trooping the Colour on June 2. The Queen took the salute from the Buckingham Palace balcony alongside the Duke of Kent, and then made a second balcony appearance with other members of the royal family.
The Queen sparkled in the Guards Brooch for the occasion. The gem-encrusted brooch features the badges of all five of the Foot Guards of the Household Regiments: the Coldstream Guards, the Grenadier Guards, the Irish Guards, the Scots Guards, and the Welsh Guards.
Later that evening, the Queen participated in a special jubilee beacon lighting, touching the Commonwealth Nations Globe to start a chain of light extending outward.
She wore a brand-new brooch for the occasion, the Goldsmiths’ Platinum Jubilee Brooch, one of a few new jewels gifted to her to mark the Platinum Jubilee.
The brooch was a gift from the Goldsmiths’ Company. Royal reporter Rebecca English wrote at the time that the brooch held deep symbolic meaning: “The four nations of the UK are represented by four diamond swirls and the national flowers: the rose, the thistle, the daffodil and the shamrock. It also includes her favourite lily of the valley.”
The Queen found attending the jubilee events very physically taxing, so she was not present for events like the service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Epsom Derby, or the Platinum Party at the Palace.
Except that she did have a surprise up her sleeve for those watching the Party at the Palace after all! She appeared in a special video, accompanied by Paddington Bear, that was aired during the celebration. She wore her beloved Cullinan V Brooch for her special tea party.
The Queen was also not expected to attend the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, held outside Buckingham Palace on June 5. The Gold State Coach made a special appearance, fitted with a unique hologram that showed images of the Queen on her coronation day in 1953.
Here’s a closer look at the hologram, which showed the Queen wearing the Imperial State Crown.
But the Queen surprised everyone once again by arriving for one last Platinum Jubilee balcony appearance at the end of the pageant. It was ultimately the last time she would step on to the palace balcony to greet the public.