One Queen, three yorkshire jubilees
THERE was bunting and streets full of trestle tables groaning under the weight of party food, cheering crowds and blazing beacons forming a chain of light across the hilltops.
YORKSHIRE knows how to throw a party, and for the three great celebrations of milestone anniversaries during the Queen’s uniquely long reign, the county’s people pulled out all the stops.
The silver, golden and diamond jubilees in 1977, 2002 and 2012 were joyous occasions that saw the Queen welcomed to Yorkshire by vast crowds.
It was a measure of how much the Queen has been a constant presence that during the diamond jubilee, there were among the crowds parents and even grandparents who had cheered her as schoolchildren in 1977.
That first great milestone of her reign, marking 25 years on the throne, will live long in the memories of all those who experienced it in Yorkshire.
It was a summer made for celebration – scorchingly hot, with temperatures soaring into the upper 20s, and on July 12 the Humber was bathed in sunshine as the royal yacht Britannia made her way up river towards Grimsby.
The Queen came ashore to a county bedecked with bunting, with crowds waving Union Jacks everywhere she went. In her wake, street parties sprang up in city and village alike as the jubilee was toasted.
The Queen, then a few months past her 51st birthday, and the Duke of Edinburgh embarked on a whistle-stop tour, heading first to Doncaster Racecourse for lunch and then to Maltby Comprehensive School, in Rotherham.
Later that afternoon, the children of Sheffield staged displays at Hillsborough Park before the royal party visited Cannon Hall, at Barnsley.
A glittering civic dinner was held in Leeds that evening, and then the following day the children of the city had the chance to cheer the Queen as thousands packed into Elland Road football stadium.
That afternoon, she went to the Great Yorkshire Show, marking the 20th anniversary of her first visit, and then on to Wakefield, where children presented so many bouquets that Army personnel guarding the royal party had to be pressed into service to carry them.
Hull bade farewell to the Queen later that evening, when Britannia sailed from the King George V Dock, bound for Middlesbrough on the next leg of the jubilee tour.
Yorkshire’s welcome for the Queen’s golden jubilee in 2002 was equally tumultuous. Again it was July when the Royal Train pulled into Leeds City Station, and the Queen and Duke went on a walk-about in Millennium Square to greet well-wishers.
Then it was on to one of the most unusual events of any of her jubilees – a visit to the set of Yorkshire’s best-loved soap, Emmerdale, at Harewood, where a stunt explosion was staged at the village post office.
The Queen watched a festival parade before attending a three-hour community concert at Temple Newsam.
The next day took her to Beverley Minster for a service celebrating rural life, before a walk-about in the Market Square. She then visited Bishop Burton Agricultural College and Beverley Racecourse.
The county welcomed her twice during the diamond jubilee year of 2012. Her first visit was to York at Easter, before the official jubilee celebrations began, where she distributed Maundy Money at the Minster.
She was cheered by huge crowds in a foretaste of what was to come when she returned to Yorkshire in July, visiting Leeds for the first time since the golden jubilee.
Briggate was packed with people as she and Prince Philip greeted them, with the Duke asking royal protection officers to lift children over the barriers so that they could present flowers to the Queen.
She visited the newly-built Leeds Arena to unveil a plaque, and also went to the historic City Varieties, which had undergone a major restoration. And even after the Queen’s visit was over, the street parties across Yorkshire continued, just as they had during that first milestone celebration 35 years before.