The two other royal jubilees in the 20th century had been marked by a Fleet Review - there was to have been one for this jubilee, but it was cancelled on cost grounds (or, in a sense, postponed until 2005, and the International Fleet Review).
The Queen began the Jubilee year by embarking on visits to her Realms outside the United Kingdom.
The first one visited was Jamaica on February 18; the Royals had not made a trip to the country in eight years. This came at a particularly painful time for the Royal Family as it occurred just three days after the funeral of the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret. After two days in Jamaica, the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, continued on to New Zealand, making stops in major cities such as Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington. The Queen was then received in Adelaide on February 27 by Peter Hollingworth, for a five-day tour of Australia, visiting places in South Australia and Queensland. :D
In the lead up to the celebratory weeks, British media, such as The Guardian predicted that the Jubilee would be a failure; Britain was no longer interested in the Monarchy; a pervading sense of apathy amongst the populace seemed to confirm this. However, these predictions were proven wrong, especially during the official Jubilee weekend, when people numbering in the hundreds of thousands turned out to partake in the fetes, culminating on the celebration on The Mall on June 4, when over one million people attended the parade and flypast. The Daily Mail stated in its editorial: "How the sour anti-Royalists in The Guardian newspaper and elsewhere have been confounded. They were convinced that the occasion would be a flop, that the House of Windsor was no longer capable of inspiring the loyalties it once did and that anyway the concept of royalty was passe in Cool Britannia.
On 11th March, Commonwealth Day, a portrait of the Queen that was commissioned by The Commonwealth to celebrate the Golden Jubilee was unveiled., The picture painted in 2002 by Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy at Buckingham Palace now hangs in Marlborough House. A study is part of the Queen’s collection in St. James's Palace.
The Queen opened the official celebrations in the UK at a speech to both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall, on April 30, 2002. The speech marked the fifth time in 50 years that the Queen spoke to Parliament on her own account. The Queen spoke of fifty unforgettable years, and the changes to British life and society in that time, and elaborated that the Monarchy must change as well. She said she had "witnessed the transformation of the international landscape through which this country much chart its course..." and declared "her resolve to continue, with the support of my family, to serve the people of this great nation of ours to the best of my ability through the changing times ahead." Also in April, the Queen attended a dinner at 10 Downing Street for all her past living Prime Ministers, including Sir John Major, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Sir Edward Heath and James Callaghan; the dinner was hosted by Tony Blair.
When goodwill visits resumed on May 1, they were confined to the United Kingdom, and another international Jubilee visit did not take place until the couple's visit to Canada in October. Roughly two to three days were spent in each corner of England; the Queen and Prince Philip first stopped in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset before travelling to Tyne and Wear, then finally to Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. On May 13, the couple were received in Northern Ireland, and visited such areas as County Fermanagh, Cookstown, and Omagh (the latter being the site of a notorious Irish Republican bombing in 1998).
Throughout much of mid-May, the Queen and Prince Philip were in London devoting much time to the promotion of the arts, attending the Chelsea Flower Show, dedicating the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace, and attending a reception at the Royal Academy of Arts. On May 23, the Jubilee trips recommenced with a noteworthy six-day trip to Scotland (the longest span of time spent in any "region" of the UK). Scotland was a location of profound significance to the royals, as it was the first part of the country visited during the 1977 Silver Jubilee, and it was where the largest crowds were recorded. Like the 1977 trip, the royals first stopped in Glasgow, and then travelled on to Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.
A special £5 coin was released to celebrate the event.
The Queen and Prince Philip left Scotland on May 29 to make final preparations for the Jubilee Weekend, which would start on June 1. On the night of June 1, a "Prom at the Palace", showcasing highlights in classical music, was held in Buckingham Palace Gardens, the largest venue ever organised on the premises. 12,500 people were invited to attend, out of two million people who expressed interest by completing applications. Playing for the crowds were the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Chorus, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Guest vocalists included Kiri Te Kanawa, Thomas Allen, Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna.
June 2 was a Sunday. The Queen and Prince Philip attended Jubilee church services at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. The rest of the Queen's family were spread across the country that day: Prince Charles and his sons William and Harry attended services at Swansea; Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex attended services in Salisbury and later greeted crowds in the area as scheduled; Princess Anne was in Ayr at the time; Prince Andrew was not in the country, as President of the Football Association, he was attending a World Cup football match in Japan.
The events of June 3 culminated in a pop music concert in the evening, in Buckingham Palace Gardens. The concert, called "Party at the Palace", showcased the achievements in pop music over the previous fifty years. The Queen and Prince Philip had spent the day touring Eton and Slough before returning to London in the afternoon. The Queen inaugurated the nationwide BBC Music Live Festival, in which over 200 cities and towns across the UK played the song All You Need Is Love, followed by the ringing of church bells at 1pm. This was the peak day of celebrations, and just like June 7, 1977, street parties were thrown across the country.
The concert was attended by all the members of the immediate British Royal Family, including Prince Andrew, who returned from the World Cup matches in Japan. Among the headlining acts at the concert were Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Cliff Richard and Tony Bennett. Queen guitarist Brian May started the event by playing his arrangement of God Save the Queen from the roof of the palace. Paul McCartney ended the night with such numbers as While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Hey Jude, which were performed before and after the Queen lit the National Beacon at the Victoria Memorial. The National Beacon was the last in a string of beacons to be lit in a chain throughout the world, echoing Queen Victoria's own Golden Jubilee in 1887.
12,000 guests were allowed into the Buckingham Palace Gardens for the concert. An additional million people thronged The Mall to watch and listen to the festivities on giant TV screens, and joining in with the Palace audience's singing from outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.
On June 4, the entire Royal Family attended the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral, followed by lunch at the Guildhall. Unlike the 1977 Jubilee, which proved to have a theme of unity, the Queen addressed the crowd and expressed pride at the Commonwealth's achievements, both during her reign as Queen and throughout time. The Queen was quoted as saying, "Gratitude, respect and pride, these words sum up how I feel about the people of this country and the Commonwealth - and what this Golden Jubilee means to me.
The Jubilee Festival started procession in The Mall in the early afternoon. In addition to singers and musicians performing for the Queen, numerous floats were decorated and driven through The Mall, illustrating British life through the years of her reign, from the 1950s to the present day. The Festival was also notable for the presence of a Hells Angel named "Snob" (real name Alan Fisher), who led a procession of motorcycles through The Mall at the Queen's request.
At the end of the Festival, 5000 adults and children from the 54 Commonwealth nations marched in The Mall before the Queen, in their various national uniforms, and presented a "rainbow of wishes" to the Queen, consisting of handwritten notes from schoolchildren from across the Commonwealth. Later in the day, the Queen and Prince Philip greeted crowds from the Palace Centre Room's balcony. More than a million people thronged The Mall and cheered the Queen and other members of the Family. The royals then viewed a flypast, consisting of every type of RAF aircraft in service. Concorde and Red Arrows trailed behind the other aircraft, ending the show.
There were also several events which were independently organised to celebrate the Jubilee; for example, in June 2002 the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom staged a special parade for the Queen at Portsmouth, where she inspected a guard of honour. Also, the Queen hosted a banquet for all reigning European Kings and Queens (to most of whom she is related) and also gave a special dinner for all the Governors-General of the other countries where she is Queen.
Numerous locally organised street parties were held throughout Britain. A notable difference with those of 1977 was that some of the most popular venues were cul-de-sacs.
Approximately 41 activists were arrested in the run-up to a protest against the Queen's Jubilee in London. All but one were later released, and a successful claim for damages was made against the Metropolitan Police. The protest was partly organised by the Movement Against the Monarchy.
The Public Relations Department of the Tourist Board for the Jubilee Committee produced the Jubilee Souvenir Brochure, with text and images covering historical Royal Visits provided by the National Museum. Only 5,000 were produced, issue number 1 being given to Queen Elizabeth II herself. The Museum also provided photographs for the production of three sets of Stamps, and, for the Jubilee Weekend, prepared a temporary exhibition on Royal Visits, with other items from the past, such as the Coronation Medals issued in to some local residents in 1953. Other items produced to commemorate the Jubilee were a straw crown made on Middle Caicos by Loathie Harvey and Judy Geddis, two 20-crown Coins, and a badge given to all school children as a memento of the historic occasion.
July also proved to be a busy month, with the Queen and Prince Philip making two-day trips to the West Midlands, Yorkshire (where the Queen visited the set of the soap opera Emmerdale) and the areas of Suffolk and Norfolk. Later in the month, a three-day goodwill trip was planned to Liverpool and Manchester, where the Queen opened the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The Queen closed out July by touring the East Midlands, and ended their exhaustive domestic trip by visiting Lancashire, where the highest number of people in England turned out for the Queen in 1977.
For twelve days in October, the Queen and Prince Philip visited Canada, making stops in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, Hull, Fredericton, Sussex, Moncton and Ottawa. The trip was also unique in that it was the first royal visit to Iqaluit since the territory of Nunavut was established.
In Nunavut, on October 4, the Queen opened, and addressed, the new Legislative Assembly, stating "I am proud to be the first member of the Canadian Royal Family to be greeted in Canada's newest territory. After a walk-about in the Iqaluit streets, the Queen unveiled a street sign for Iqaluit's main street, named in her honour.
The Queen then flew to Victoria, British Columbia, where she was greeted by the province's Lieutenant Governor, spending most of the weekend there, though performing no official duties on the Saturday. On Sunday she attended Christ Church Cathedral, performing an unscheduled walk-about after the service. She later unveiled a stained glass window in the provincial Legislature, marking her Golden Jubilee. Outside the Snowbirds performed an acrobatic fly-by, for an audience of 16,000.
In Vancouver, on October 6, the Queen, accompanied by Wayne Gretzky, and in front of a crowd of 18,000, dropped the ceremonial puck at the beginning of an NHL hockey game. This was the first time any reigning monarch, Canadian or otherwise, had performed this task. She and Prince Philip then watched the first period of the game from the Royal Box – the first time she had done so since her first hockey game at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1951.
In Winnipeg the Queen performed a walk-about at the Forks. She also re-dedicated the newly restored Golden Boy statue atop the Manitoba Legislative Building. Her Majesty attended an evening performance of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, accompanied by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Loreena McKennitt.
On October 9, the Royal Couple arrived in Toronto, being welcomed to the province by the Lieutenant Governor and by thousands of Ontarians. The Queen was also greeted later on at a reception at Exhibition Place, highlighting the advance of Ontario over the previous 50 years. On October 11 the Queen visited Sheridan College, and later traveled to Hamilton, Ontario where, at Copps Coliseum, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada were presented with their new colours by the Queen as their Colonel-in-Chief. Later she, accompanied by Prince Philip, attended a reception at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Toronto headquarters to celebrate its 50th anniversary, viewing exhibits, and being amused by a video display which showed her earlier tours of Canada in the 1950s. Following that the couple attended a gala concert at Roy Thomson Hall where Oscar Peterson, Evelyn Hart, Rex Harrington, Cirque du Soleil, The Tragically Hip, and others performed.
The tour continued to the Maritime provinces, with the Queen and her husband arriving in New Brunswick, where thousands greeted them at the provincial Government House. They only spent 25 hours in the maritimes, flying from Fredericton to Moncton by helicopter for a luncheon in Dieppe, New Brunswick to celebrate the town's 50th anniversary.
From the east coast the Royal Couple flew westwards again to the national capital, Ottawa, where they were greeted by then Deputy Prime Minister John Manley, who had earlier, on the day of the Queen's arrival in Canada, caused controversy by stating Canada should become a republic. The day following, October 13, a multi-faith Thanksgiving celebration was held on Parliament Hill for about 3,500 people, and the Queen laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A state dinner was held at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, in Gatineau, Quebec, that evening. She there said: "[I wish] to express my profound gratitude to all Canadians... for the loyalty, encouragement and support you have given to me over these past 50 years." As her motorcade traveled across the Ottawa river into Quebec, about 100 protesters yelled obscenities at the Queen in French, waving Quebec flags and chanting "We want a country, not a monarchy." It was the only protest during the Jubilee tour.
On the last full day of the tour, The Queen attended, as Honorary Commissioner, a performance of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Musical Ride. Her final major event in Canada was a lunch at Rideau Hall for fifty distinguished Canadians – one from each year of Elizabeth's reign. The Queen also planted another tree on the grounds of her Canadian residence, and met with members of the Royal Commonwealth Society.
The Queen and Prince Philip departed Canada on October 15.
As a gift to the Queen in celebration of her Golden Jubilee her Canadian ministers donated $250,000 to the Dominion Institute's Memory Project; a project aimed at educating Canadian youth about the experiences and contributions of the nation's veterans from the First World War through to modern day military and peacekeeping missions.