On 6 February 2022, Queen Elizabeth II marked the 70th anniversary of her accession to the thrones of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth realms in 1952. In the spring of 2022, there were Platinum Jubilee tours of the Commonwealth by members of the royal family and a four-day holiday weekend of Platinum Jubilee celebrations in the United Kingdom from 2 to 5 June 2022. The Queen is the only British and Commonwealth monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. The Queen is currently the second-longest reigning monarch in world history, her record exceeded only by the 72-year reign of King Louis XIV of France.
The Queen marked the 70th anniversary of her accession quietly at her private estate of Sandringham House in Norfolk, as 6 February is also the anniversary of the death of her father, King George VI. On 5 February, the Queen hosted a reception at Sandringham for volunteers, seniors and members of the local Women’s Institute. That same day, she issued an Accession Day message thanking the public for their support and expressing a wish that her daughter-in-law, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, would one day be known as Queen Consort.
In common with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012, the Queen remained in the United Kingdom while members of her family toured the Commonwealth realms. The Platinum Jubilee royal tours attracted widespread public scrutiny as they were among the first visits to the Commonwealth by members of the royal family since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
In March 2022, the Queen’s grandson Prince William and his wife, Catherine (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge), toured Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas in honour of the Platinum Jubilee. The Caribbean tour was critiqued in the press because of the cost of travel and because images of the royal couple greeting children through a fence in a sports field and reviewing Jamaican troops from an open-topped Land Rover were reminiscent of British colonialism. Commonwealth tours by Princess Anne (The Princess Royal) and her husband, Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence, to Australia in April and Prince Charles (The Prince of Wales) and Camilla to Canada in May were better received.
Royal Tour of Canada
From 17 to 19 May 2022, Charles and Camilla (The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall) visited St. John’s and Quidi Vidi in Newfoundland and Labrador, the National Capital Region, and Dettah and Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories in honour of the Platinum Jubilee. The short tour focused on topical issues, including reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, meeting with Ukrainian Canadians during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, climate change and sustainable finance. To celebrate the Platinum Jubilee in Canada, the royal couple attended a reception at Rideau Hall and unveiled a plaque at a Jubilee Garden in Yellowknife. In St. John’s, Charles stated, “As we begin this Platinum Jubilee visit, which will take us from the newest member of Confederation to among the oldest communities in the North — and to a much-storied capital at the heart of a great nation — my wife and I look forward to listening to you and learning about the future you are working to build.” In the Northwest Territories, Charles acknowledged the suffering of Indigenous peoples caused by the residential school system, stating, “We must listen to the truth of the lived experience of Indigenous peoples and we should work to understand better their pain and suffering.” At the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda, Charles observed that Canada’s efforts at reconciliation with Indigenous peoples provide lessons for other Commonwealth nations.
Celebrations in Canada
The Platinum Jubilee was celebrated with less ceremony in Canada than Queen Elizabeth II’s previous Silver (1977), Golden (2002) and Diamond (2012) jubilees. The federal government did not issue Platinum Jubilee medals, although Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island issued jubilee medals at the provincial level. There were commemorative coins, postage stamps and museum exhibits in honour of the Platinum Jubilee, and lieutenant-governors and territorial commissioners opened Jubilee gardens in all provinces and territories. (See also Territorial Government in Canada.) A summer sound and light show on Parliament Hill showcased the Queen’s tours of Canada over the course of her reign. Jubilee beacons were lit across the Commonwealth, including in Ottawa and Toronto. Local communities also organized their own celebrations, which were often part of wider Victoria Day celebrations, including fireworks, picnics and, in Ottawa, a parade of corgi dogs.
Celebrations in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, Platinum Jubilee celebrations took place over a four-day holiday weekend from 2 to 5 June 2022. The 96-year-old Queen appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony with her cousin, the Duke of Kent, during the Trooping the Colour Parade and with the working members of the royal family during the flypast on the first day of the celebrations. The Queen also lit a Platinum Jubilee beacon at Windsor Castle and made a final appearance with Charles and Camilla and William and Catherine and their children on the balcony at the end of the Platinum Jubilee Pageant. The Queen did not, however, attend other events over the weekend, including the Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Epsom Derby, because of “some discomfort” attributed to mobility issues. Such issues had limited the Queen’s public appearances outside her residences in 2021–22.
The Future of the Monarchy
The Queen’s absence from part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in the United Kingdom and persistent mobility challenges have prompted discussion and debate about the future of the monarchy throughout the Commonwealth. The Queen’s son Prince Charles and grandson Prince William, as well as their respective spouses, Camilla and Catherine, assumed prominent roles in the Platinum Jubilee celebrations and Commonwealth tours. This resulted in press and popular speculation about how the next two reigns will unfold and whether support for the monarchy will continue in the Commonwealth realms. The Queen herself discussed the future of the monarchy in her Accession Day message, stating, “when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife, Camilla, the same support that you have given me.”