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Britain suffered from royal fever in the summer of 2002, as Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Golden Jubilee, having ‘reigned over us’ for 50 years, since her father George VI died in 1952.

A Golden Jubilee celebrates the 50th year of the reign of a monarch, and a Silver Jubilee celebrates the 25th year, not unlike golden and silver weddings.

There had been some concern in royalist circles that this celebration might not live up to the national mood and street parties of 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. These fears proved to be largely unfounded, however.

The royal family chose to host two open-air concerts of pop and classical music in the back gardens of Buckingham Palace, open to members of the public chosen by ballot.

The Prom at the Palace in June included appearances by Kiri Te Kanawa, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, and members of the Royal Ballet, and the highlight was Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks with appropriate accompaniment of rockets, etc.

The Party at the Palace was headlined by the British group Queen, along with other pop greats like Paul McCartney, Elton John, Joe Cocker, Cliff Richard, and Tom Jones, to name but a few. This was a big success, with crowds thronging the Mall outside the palace. It also showed an apparent recognition in royal circles of more modern tastes in music, catering to popular rather than classical appetites. The queen then lit the last of about 2000 beacons around the world, among large crowds in the Mall.

There was a celebratory service in St Paul's Cathedral, and a parade through the crowd-packed streets of London. Concorde and the Red Arrows put on a fly-past.

All in all, the events appeared to affirm that the British people’s taste for the monarchy is not quite on its last legs, despite its sometimes troubled relationship with the media, and calls by republicans for its reform or abolition.

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