Queen's Diamond Jubilee
Marking the Jubilee in the Commonwealth
Verity Sharp, Programmes Assistant at the Royal Commonwealth Society, provides some background information and suggests resources to help schools and teachers celebrate the Diamond Jubilee in a royally global fashion.
This year marks the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, marking both 60 years as Monarch and 60 years as Head of the Commonwealth.
This means that as well as being Head of State in the UK, The Queen also has a responsibility towards the 54 sovereign states that make up the Commonwealth of Nations. Of these 54 member states, 16 have Queen Elizabeth II as their Head of State and are known as Commonwealth Realms. Thirty three of these are republics and five have their own monarchs.
From Africa to Asia, from the Pacific to the Caribbean, from Europe and the Mediterranean to North America, the Commonwealth's membership stretches across all the world's continents and oceans and includes 2.1 billion people, or 30% of the world's population.
The role of Head of the Commonwealth is a symbolic one; The Queen has no authority to interfere in matters of independent member states. However, The Queen is expected to attend the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and deliver the annual Commonwealth Day message.
Commonwealth Day is the annual celebration of the Commonwealth that is held on the second Monday in March. It is marked by the Commonwealth Day Observance, a multi-faith service held in Westminster Abbey, attended by The Queen and 2,000 guests.
It is at the Observance that The Queen delivers Her annual message to the Commonwealth. The speech promotes understanding the work of the association and highlights areas of concern.
This year Commonwealth Day takes place on Monday 12 March and promises to be an extra-special occasion as the Commonwealth marks The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The Observance will reflect on The Queen’s 60 years of service to the Commonwealth, as well as celebrating this year’s Commonwealth theme ‘Connecting Cultures’.
There are a number of free education resources available to teachers that offer a great way to introduce students to the Commonwealth and to mark the Diamond Jubilee in the run-up to Commonwealth Day.
- One education project that will feature in the Observance, and ties together both the Diamond Jubilee and the ‘Connecting Cultures’ theme is the Jubilee Time Capsule. This digital Diamond Jubilee initiative from the Royal Commonwealth Society is an online time capsule of the past 60 years. People across the globe are being invited to add their own memories to it, and that includes schools and young people.
- The Royal Commonwealth Society has also produced a number of other free education resources including the ‘Antigua to Zambia: Getting to Know Your Commonwealth’ resource and lesson plans introducing the Commonwealth.
- Another educational resource on the Commonwealth is the CommonGround booklet produced by the Commonwealth Foundation - a practical guide for anyone who wants to know more about the history and the work of the Commonwealth today.