Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee
Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee this year, marking the sixty-year anniversary of her reign as Queen and Head of the Commonwealth. Elizabeth acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI. It is this day, Accession Day, which is celebrated as the anniversary of the beginning of her reign as Queen Elizabeth II. Her coronation took place over one year later on June 2, 1953.
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Queen Elizabeth II is the second monarch to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee; Queen Victoria was the first to do so in 1897. Elizabeth has lived longer than any other British monarch, and her reign is the second-longest in Commonwealth history, surpassed only by Queen Victoria’s sixty-three year reign.
The Queen first visited Canada as Princess Elizabeth in 1951. She made her first visit as Queen in 1957, when she and Prince Philip opened Canada’s twenty-third Parliament. Two years later, the couple completed an extensive tour of Canada in which they visited every province and territory. She visited Canada in 1977 to celebrate her Silver Jubilee, and again in 2002 for her Golden Jubilee.
The Queen has been present for many momentous occasions in Canadian history. Such occasions include the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, Canada’s Centennial celebrations in 1967, the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and the signing of Trudeau’s Constitution Act in 1982. The Queen has made twenty-two official tours of Canada to date — more than any other Commonwealth nation.
Canadian celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee began in February. On Accession Day, the Queen’s personal Canadian flag was flown from the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill. The Diamond Jubilee flag was raised the following day. Flags were also flown in cities across the country.
In honour of the Queen, Canada will distribute sixty thousand Diamond Jubilee medals. Medals will be awarded to Canadians who have demonstrated dedication in serving their fellow citizens, their community, and their country. Recipients also include those who have made a significant contribution to Canada or to their community. The first sixty medals were awarded at a reception in Rideau Hall on February 6. The remaining medals will be distributed to deserving nominees throughout the year.
Diamond Jubilee celebrations will also take place within local communities. Festivities may include ceremonies, concerts, teas and luncheons, and the distribution of Diamond Jubilee medals. For information on events in your community and across the nation, visit the Jubilee Events Calendar on Canadian Heritage's website.
— Text by Emily Cuggy
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