Royal Celebrations

Queen's Birthday Parade, London Queen's Birthday Parade, London

Royal celebrations have put Britain in the spotlight for the past two years. We celebrated Prince William's wedding to Catherine Middleton in April 2011. Last year was dedicated to the Diamond Jubilee. But apart from these ultra-special occasions there are many other Royal events throughout the year as the Royals have a busy calendar. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh especially cram an amazing amount of engagements into their working life.

Royal Ceremonies

The State Opening of Parliament

This heralds the beginning of the parliamentary session in March. Since the 16th century the reigning monarch has performed this unique ceremony, which attracts large crowds.

The ceremony starts with the Queen travelling accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh in a State Coach from Buckingham Palace to Westminster escorted by the Household Cavalry. People line up to see this procession from Whitehall all the way along the Mall. When she arrives there she will go to the Robing Room to don her Imperial State Crown and parliamentary robe. She then proceeds to the Royal Gallery of the Chamber of the House of Lords where she takes a seat on the Throne.

The Queen's messenger called the Black Rod, has to knock on the door of the House with the staff of office and he is let into the Chamber followed by the members of the House of Commons and the Commons Speaker. At the first attempt the door is slammed in his face, which is part of a tradition.

Then the Queen delivers her speech from the Throne. The speech is actually drawn up by the Government and then approved by the Cabinet, as it contains the Government's policies and proposed new laws and legislations. In response to the Speech there is a Humble address by both houses and this concludes the ceremony. People who are unable to witness this event can see it live on BBC television.

The Service for the Order of the Garter

This takes place at Windsor Castle. It started in the fourteenth century. The investitures take place on Garter Day in June, followed by a lunch in the Waterloo Chamber and a procession of the knights to St George's Chapel for a special service. It's a magnificent parade with the knights wearing their blue velvet mantels and black velvet hats with white plumes.

Traditions

The Braemar Highland Gathering is attended every year by the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family. It was started by the Queen's ancestor, King Malcolm III in the 11th century. He wanted to find new postal runners for his Kingdom and organised a race up to the top of the hill Craig Coinnich. The winner would receive a purse of gold and a new baldrick. The tradition was repeated year after year and thus the Braemar Highland Gathering was established. It was copied across the Highlands and further afield in Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and wherever there are Scots, there will be Highland Games.

Royal Weddings

Westminster Abbey is the usual venue for royal weddings, but in a break with tradition the Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales had their wedding ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral. Prince William and Catherine Middleton's wedding in April 2011 brought much joy to the nation and there were many celebrations, people staying in to watch the ceremony on television or visiting London to be part of the event.

Coronations

All Kings and Queens have been crowned at Westminster Abbey over 900 years in a service conducted by the current Archbishop of Canterbury. This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation.

Royal Jubilees

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee put the Great into Britain again and created a great boost for the country. It was celebrated from Land's End to John O'Groats and gave everybody the excuse to string out the bunting, get out the flags and be proud to be British. There were street parties in most towns and villages and a lot of fun was had by all. The Brits certainly know how to celebrate Royal events.

The magnificent and painstakingly planned Thames Pageant would have gone swimmingly if not for the atrocious weather. But, stiff upper lip as ever, the Royals stoically carried on even if it did make the Duke of Edinburgh so ill he had to stay in hospital and miss the special Jubilee concert.

The highlight of the concert was the performance of the official Diamond Jubilee single. The song, titled 'Sing' by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber was performed by the Military Wives Choir and a Band which consisted of people drawn from all corners of the Commonwealth. It was a wonderful culmination of originality and talent.

The Diamond Jubilee weekend with its numerous events showed the world a thing or two about how to celebrate our biggest asset: The Queen and the Royal Family. Whatever the cynics say: We have really had our money's worth out of the Royal Family as they attract many visitors to the country.

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