Queen Victoria’s Pioneering Jubilees

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Queen Victoria’s Pioneering Jubilees


In the year that Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, 2022 also marks the 125th anniversary of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Whilst George III had celebrated a Golden Jubilee, the scale of the Golden and Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria’s extraordinarily long reign were the first of their kind. Having largely withdrawn from public life after the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees gave her an opportunity to reconnect with her subjects. They also set the scene for the way we celebrate jubilees and important royal milestones today, with events such as royal walkabouts, fireworks displays, and nationwide parties.

1887 Golden Jubilee

On 20 and 21 June 1887, a two-day celebration of great display and public ceremony marked the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne. Foreign kings, princes and governing heads of the United Kingdom’s overseas colonies and dominions attended a royal banquet at Buckingham Palace. The next day, spectators had a rare chance to catch a glimpse of the monarch as she travelled in an open, gilded state coach drawn by six horses escorted by the Indian cavalry to Westminster Abbey. On her return to Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria appeared on the balcony to huge, cheering crowds, a popular tradition Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II also carried out for many important royal events during her reign.

‘The noise of the crowd, which began yesterday, went on till late. Felt truly grateful that all had passed off so admirably, and this never-to-be-forgotten day will always leave the most gratifying and heart-stirring memories behind.’

An excerpt from an entry in Queen Victoria’s journal, 21 June 1887

1897 Diamond Jubilee

Ten years later, whilst overseeing a vast British Empire, Queen Victoria became the first British monarch to mark a Diamond Jubilee. Despite the monarch’s ill health, the scope of celebrations were on a grander scale than the decade before, and 22 June 1897 was declared a bank holiday in India as well as in Britain and Ireland. Prime Ministers attended a procession from St Paul’s Cathedral to Buckingham Palace, and American author Mark Twain famously reported on the day’s events for the San Francisco Examiner. Many memorials were erected around the world, including in the Seychelles, Malaysia and New Zealand, as well as closer to home in Maidenhead and Chester.

With the moving image in its infancy, the Diamond Jubilee attracted film-makers from around the world, and was the first major royal event to be filmed. Around 40 cameras lined the procession route and an astonished audience in Bradford witnessed the UK’s first same-day newsreel.


Portraits of a Reign

In 1887, a new coinage portrait by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm was introduced to the coinage, and whilst it wasn’t specifically intended to mark the Golden Jubilee, coins featuring the portrait became popular souvenirs. Known as the ‘Jubilee Head’, the portrait shows Queen Victoria wearing a small diamond crown, which was specially made as a lightweight alternative to a heavier, traditional crown. By the time of her Diamond Jubilee, Queen Victoria was 74 years of age, and a new effigy was being struck on UK coins. Created by Thomas Brock, it is often referred to as the ‘Old Head’ or ‘Veiled Head’, as it depicts a more mature queen wearing a veil and crown. This much-loved depiction of Queen Victoria was her last coinage portrait and was struck until her death in 1901.

Compiled in the year of the 125th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and the Platinum Jubilee of her great-great-granddaughter, Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, we’ve brought together coins struck in the Golden and Diamond Jubilee years of Queen Victoria for the first time, available as Sovereign and Half-Sovereign editions.

Discover Victoria Coins


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