One of the things I loved most about living in the UK was that there is a series of events through the year that more or less unites the whole country. Events like Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night, the Last Night of the Proms which is celebrated in London, Swansea, Edinburgh and Belfast, and the Queen’s Christmas Speech. The Diamond Jubilee events begin on Saturday when HM The Queen attends the Epsom Derby. On Sunday, there will be street parties all over the UK. More than 9500 applications to close off streets to traffic have been received. It’s basically a huge potluck party with all of the neighbours joining in.
Meanwhile, on the Thames, there will be more than 1000 boats sailing or motoring in a flotilla to celebrate the Jubilee. I am so pleased to see that the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, an amazing organization, will have one of the lead boats. As the Royal Family boards their Royal Barge, they will be saluted by red-coated Chelsea Pensioners.
On Monday, there will be a huge rock concert at Buckingham Palace… or actually at the Winged Victory statue in front of the Palace.
After the concert, a network of Beacons will be lit by communities throughout the United Kingdom, as well as the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Commonwealth. The organizers had originally planned for 2012 beacons, but more than 4000 have been registered. This is just the map of my old part of the world.A beacon chain, once used as a tool for communication, has now become a symbol of unity across towns, borders, countries and continents. As in 2002, The Queen will light the National Beacon, the final one to be lit.Of all of the events, this is the one that I would love to see the most. I love the idea of the beacons stretching out across the land. One of my fondest memories was on the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, driving with Andy to some remote historical docking to see HRH Princess Anne light a beacon. We never did find the fire or the Princess, but we sure got to know the Barry Island docks pretty well.
On Tuesday, the Jubilee Celebrations will culminate with a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s, and then a carriage procession from Westminster to Buckingham Palace.
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In unrelated news, I came thisclose to getting Connor a little friend! As I was crossing a major intersection in downtown Baltimore, I noticed a mother duck and her six babies stranded on a median strip. The ducklings were too small to get up the curb, and they were in danger of being flattened. I threw down my gear, and started picking them up, one by one, as traffic flew by. Who knew that ducklings were so fast? Anyway, it was all I could do not to stash one in my bag to bring home as a playmate for Connor.