Celebrating 2012 in the UK!

Well this weekend has been pretty spectacular in the UK to say the least. We’ve had a 4 day official celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee recognising her 60 year reign – only the second monarch in British history to celebrate a 60 year reign (the first being Victoria in 1897).

I spent Sunday afternoon on the banks of the Thames watching the most spectacular display of pageantry seen on the river in 300 years, when hundreds of boats sailed past us from Battersea, through central London, and finishing at Tower Bridge in the east, as part of the Jubilee celebrations. The Queen and senior members of the Royal Family were aboard a specially refurbished barge called The Spirit of Chartwell which is owned privately and offers voyages to individuals or charters, and you can even stay overnight on board in one of the state cabins! – check out www.spiritofchartwell.com for more info. The crowds in Millbank gardens where we stood were up to 15 deep but I could see a bit of the water occasionally and I managed to catch a few rough photos by holding my camera up!

Monday night also saw a spectacular line up of stars play on a specially erected stage around the Victoria Monument outside Buckingham Palace – if you’ve seen any media around the world, it’s likely you’ll have seen an article about it as many international stars lined up to celebrate and entertain as the whole event was broadcast live on TV. The headline acts represented each decade of the Queen’s reign, including Cliff Richard, paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, JLS and various others. The event was organised by Gary Barlow and compered by an array of British comedians who joined the whole thing together superbly. The event ended with members of the Royal Family joining the performers on stage, when a fantastic speech was made by Prince Charles, honouring and praising Her Majesty for her long service to the country. The Queen then closed the proceedings by lighting a beacon in the Mall, the last in a line of over 4,000 across the world, to mark this fantastic event.

Of course, if you’ve seen any media recently, you can’t miss the fact that London is also hosting the Olympics this year, and our torch relay is already well underway. I was privileged this morning to be in the only country the flame will visit outside Greece and the host country – Ireland… and not only that but the route the flame took around Dublin went straight past the door of the hotel I’m staying in with my current group!

All in all, the UK is alive with colour and jubilation in 2012 and while we may all be experiencing a squeeze on our pockets right now, there is an amazing atmosphere here, especially in London, and an awesome sense of patriotism. This weekend has been a rousing display of patriotic, pageantry and has created such a sense of national unity, the likes of which we often only see in darker times. But right now, not only does it feel great to be British, but it just feels great to be here, so if you get a chance, come and join the festivities while you can, or make sure you don’t miss out next time as there’s always something great just around the corner!