Britain will be swinging to the beat of the monarchy starting this weekend as Queen Elizabeth enters the 50th year of her reign. On the cards is a colourful Golden Jubilee extravaganza.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II
Those who view the monarchy in Britain bemusedly as a quaint relic of the past may be in for a surprise as thousands of British subjects party in the streets this weekend to hail the Queen's 50 year reign.
What’s more - the celebration for the sovereign will not be confined to the United Kingdom.
Across the globe in countries as far away as Greece, Vietnam, the United States and the 54 Commonwealth member states, festivities linked to the event will be held.
Classic, pop and gospel
In Britain a variety of events and shows are planned to celebrate 50 years of the Queen’s reign.
The celebrations will kick off with a classical concert at Buckingham Palace on Saturday.
On Sunday – keeping in mind that most of the nation will be glued to the television set for England’s opening World Cup soccer game against Sweden – the 76-year-old Queen will attend a special church service.
Monday evening will see a string of street parties across Britain while some 12,000 people will rock in the gardens of the Buckingham Palace to the crooning of some of the biggest names representing the last five decades of pop music.
Rock legend Paul McCartney
Sir Paul Mcartney (photo), Eric Clapton, Cliff Richard, Tony Bennet, Ozzy Osbourne, Aretha Franklin and Ricky Martin are just some of the artists who will be singing for the Queen, accompanied by an orchestra from the Royal Academy of Music.
Celebrations all "decent"
Buckingham Palace is taking care to avoid the event dissolving into an unruly foot-stomping spectacle. "No swearing, shouting or profanities will be tolerated" says the list of rules for participants issued by the palace aimed at some of the more extreme singers such as heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne.
The lighting of over 1,800 beacons across the UK, the Channel Islands, the Commonwealth and throughout the world as far afield as Antarctica will lend a sparkle to the Golden Jubilee celebrations.
The finale will see the Queen herself lighting the touch paper to her very own beacon beside the Queen Victoria Memorial outside the Buckingham Palace.
On Tuesday, the last day of the celebrations, the Queen will attend a thanksgiving service at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral followed by a gigantic parade of some 20,000 people to be led by a Hell’s Angels motorbike-rider and will include the world’s largest 5,000-strong gospel choir.
Queen holds a special place for most
The extensive celebrations for a largely symbolic sovereign might bewilder those outside the Queen’s territory.
But within Britain it seems, the Queen still remains an endearing figurehead.
Britain's Queen Eizabeth The Queen Mother
For many among the younger generations, the Golden Jubilee might just be an occasion to party, but a large proportion of British citizens apparently feel deep sympathy for the Queen after this year’s death of her 101-year-old mother, the popular "Queen Mum" (photo) and sister Princess Margaret.
The Queen - who took the throne as a young woman (photo) after the death of her father King George VI in 1952 - also remains popular especially among the working classes and older generations who clearly remember and treasure the great events of her 50 year rule.
Many also view the Queen of having had a rough life after she suffered embarrassment and humiliation over the break-up of three of her children’s marriages and the way the media blew up every peccadillo of her family into a scandal.
Keeping abreast of the times
But Queen Elizabeth herself has shown herself to be very much with the times and has made clear that the Golden Jubilee celebrations are not a time to just reminisce about the past.
In her online jubilee message published on the BBC site, the Queen said, "I hope that this time of celebration in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth will not simply be an occasion to be nostalgic about the past. I believe that, young or old, we have as much to look forward to with confidence and hope as we have to look back on with pride".
In a rare gesture, the Queen has also decided to visit a UK mosque and Hindu, Sikh and Jewish groups for the first time in an effort to get to know her multi-cultural and multi-faith subjects in modern-day Britain.