If you've listened to the podcast this week, and if you haven't you really should (it's so easy to find, just head to the Podcast tab of this very blog! Or search for Mr M's Musings: The Podcast from your provider of choice!), you'll know that I am full of cold (not COVID though). So I really don't have the energy for a full post this week....
... that, and I have a lot of time-sensitive marking to do. You see, I'm fulfilling one of my career ambitions this year and am taking part in the assessment of lots and lots of Year 6 work. I'm under a non-disclosure contract, so I can't tell you what I'm doing but it will definitely form the basis of a future blog post. I'm learning a lot of about official end of Key Stage 2 comprehension, let's put it that way.
Anyway, on the subject of doing things I'm not really supposed to be doing, I thought I'd share the introduction and opening chapter of the Jubilee Celebration book that all school children will soon receive a copy of (published by DK Children). It's nice to get sneak peeks every now and again. You don't have to thank me... but a comment below telling me what you think of the tone would be greatly appreciated!
A Platinum Jubilee Celebration
On a February day, 70 years ago, a young princess suddenly found out that she was now a queen. Today, she is still our reigning monarch and in 2022, we are celebrating the record-breaking platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth the second. During her reign, the world has changed in so many ways, but she has stayed strong and steady throughout. A calm, confident, kind presence in all our lives.
The Platinum Jubilee not only honours her majesty's long and loyal service but also the resilient, diverse and inclusive communities that we live in. It is a time for us all to come together and celebrate.
Coronation and Commonwealth
“Isabella, Do you know anything about the Jubilee?”
Isabella Was it her great granny Joyce's house. She loved to visit every Sunday to hear her amazing stories. She had just settled down with a slice of fruit cake when great granny Joyce started talking about the jubilee. This was a new word for Isabella and she didn't have a clue what it meant.
“No, I don't, great granny Joyce,” Isabella admitted through a mouthful of cake crumbs. “What is it?”
Great Granny Joyce clapped her hands together in delight and sat forward in her chair.
“It's a special celebration and lots of people will be talking about it. There will be jubilee programs on the TV and there will be so many festivities taking place across the UK with street parties and afternoon routines. All kinds of events.”
Isabella smiled. “Wow. I do like having a celebration, but who is it actually for?”
By now, great granny Joyce’s eyes were twinkling. They always twinkled when she was excited. Great granny Joyice opened her eyes wider.
“It's for the queen.” She got up from her chair and announced: “This year, in 2022, Queen Elizabeth, the second will have reigned for 70 years, so we're going to celebrate this anniversary as the platinum jubilee. It's a milestone for her majesty.”
Isabella considered this for a moment and did some quick maths in her head.
“I'm nine years old. So that means the queen reigned for 61 years before Iaws even born. Wow!”
“Wow, goodness me,” agreed great granny Joyce. “I am ninety-six-years-old this year, exactly the same age as the Queen. I remember so much of her reign.”
Suddenly great granny Joyce stood still and her eyes misted up.
“It takes me back to my youth. Isabella, I want to show you something very special. Wait here.”
Great granny Joyce returned, carrying a big wooden box and Isabella jumped up to help. They set it down on the rug.
“You can open it now,” said great granny Joyce.
With trembling fingers, Isabella opened the lid very slowly and carefully. Isabella pushed the lid of the box back as far as it would go and looked inside.
The box was packed with all kinds of things. There were souvenirs from holidays, tickets to shows, letters from friends, birthday cards, certificates, postcards, newspaper, cuttings, trinkets, kits, toys and so many photographs! Isabella didn't know what to look at first.
“My entire life's experiences are in that box,” said great granny Joyce looking over Isabella's shoulder. “I started collecting things as a child, things that I've picked up here and there. Some are memories of the best days I've ever had; others are souvenirs saved for rainy days. It's all here in one place. I call it my treasures box.”
Isabella started to look through the mass of memories. There was so much to take in. Then she spotted something special that caught her eye.
“Wait, who is this?” Isabella pulled out a stunning photograph of a young lady wearing a crown. Isabella, waved the photograph under her great granny Joyce’s nose waiting for her to answer.
“That's the queen when she was much younger. It was taken at the coronation in the summer of 1953.”
Isabella's ears picked up. Coronation? This sounded like a magical word but she couldn't quite put her finger on what it meant.
“What was the coronation, great granny Joyce?”
“The coronation was the ceremony to mark Princess Elizabeth becoming queen. It was the first coronation to be shown on TV. Not everyone had TVs back then, but those that did, or knew someone who did, tuned in to watch it.”
Great granny Joyce stared at the picture for a long time.
“Can you believe it? 70 years? So long ago but I remember it like it was yesterday.”
“But why do you have a picture of the coronation? Shouldn't this be in the Queen's treasures box, not yours?” Isabella asked in confusion.
Great, granny Joyce gave her great-granddaughter a hug.
“My treasures box is personal to me and our family but a lot of it is also about the royal family. I was born in the same year as the Queen, so I feel like I have grown up with her majesty.
“The coronation was for everyone to celebrate. We were all part of it. There was a new queen, and we felt so proud of her. That memory is part of my history, too. There are plenty more souvenirs of the coronation in my treasures box. Let me show you.
“I made a scrapbook of the coronation with different articles and souvenirs Look Isabella, it'll be just like you were there.”
“I wish I could have been there. Imagine the things I'd have heard and seen and all the people I would have met…”
The coronation of Queen Elizabeth the second took place on the 2nd of June 1953. Thousands of people lined the streets of London, while 11 million people all across the UK listened on the radio and about 20 million people watched on television.
The day unfolded like a fairy tale. All the staff at Buckingham Palace waited inside the grand hall to see the Queen and her husband, His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, depart for Westminster Abbey,
The couple travelled from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the gold state coach, which was pulled by eight horses. Crowds cheered as the royal coach made its way along the streets of London. People camped overnight all the way along the mall to get the best view of the couple as they passed. Some people even sailed all the way from Australia just to be there for the big occasion.
The queen and Prince Philip entered Westminster Abbey for the ceremony, which was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and which lasted almost three hours.
In the congregation was the queen's eldest son Charles, who had received a hand-painted children's invitation. He was the only one of the Queen's children at the coronation because his younger sister, Anne, was a toddler and considered too young to go. Precisely 8,251 people from all over the world attended the coronation, with a total of 129 nations and territories officially represented.
The Queen was crowned in Saint Edward's chair. A special seat handcrafted in 1300 for Edward the first of England. Saint Edward's Crown, made of solid gold in 1661, was placed on the Queen's head. Her majesty became the 39th ruler to be crowned at Westminster Abbey. Since that memorable day, the Queen has worn the Coronation dress on six more occasions, including to open the Parliaments of New Zealand and Australia in 1954.
The Queen wore a gown of white satin, embroidered with floral designs. Before The Saint Edwards Crown was placed on the Queen's head, she wore the diamond diadem, which is the crown you see on UK postage stamps. This crown features roses, thistles and shamrocks to represent England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, as well as 1,333 diamonds and 169 pearls.
The Queen carried a bouquet of flowers. It included orchids and lilies of the valley from England, stephanotis from Scotland, orchids from Wales and carnations from Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.
Queen Elizabeth the Second has been known by this name in most parts of the UK since February 1952 when she became Queen. However, in Scotland she's referred to as Her Majesty, The Queen. This is because Elizabeth the First was only Queen of England and never ruled Scotland.
Around the world, the Queen has a number of different royal titles. For example, Queen Elizabeth the Second is named Queen of Australia, in Australia; Queen of Jamaica, in Jamaica; and Duke of Normandy in the Channel Islands.
“So how do the different nations of the UK fit together?”
“Let me show you; I have a map somewhere… Isabella, the UK is made up of four nations including England where we live, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.”
“Oh, I see now. They fit like pieces of a jigsaw!”
Our nation is officially called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or simply the UK for short. It is made up of four parts: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Nations with history stretching back more than a thousand years. London is the capital city of both England and the UK.
The flag of the UK is more widely known as the Union Jack. It is made up of three flags: the red cross of St. George for England, the white diagonal cross of Saint Andrew for Scotland and the red diagonal cross of Saint Patrick to represent Ireland. Although only Northern Ireland is part of the UK. Wales does not feature in the flag because the flag was created when Wales was, at that time, part of the kingdom of England
England is in the southern part of Great Britain. The geographical name for the island that is home to Scotland, England and Wales. By area, England is the largest part of the UK and home to about 84% of the UK population.
Circa 2,500 BC: A circle of megaliths (giant stones) is built at Stonehenge in
AD 43 to 80: The Romans invade what is now England and make it part of
their vast empire.
AD 410: People from Europe, including the Angles and Saxons, begin to
settle in England.
AD 600: Different Anglo-Saxon kingdoms control most of England.
AD 793: Vikings from Scandinavia raid the monastery on the island of
1066: William of Normandy becomes king of England after the Battle
1215: Magna Carta states that the monarch must also obey the
laws of the land.
1485: Henry Tudor becomes Henry the 7th after the wars of the
1649: After the English civil war, the monarch, Charles the First, is
1863: The world's first underground railway opens in London.
Scotland forms the northern part of Great Britain. It is best known for the mountainous highlands and islands, and its capital is the city of Edinburgh.
AD 122: Romans build Hadrian's wall to separate the northern part of
Great Britain from the south, which was part of their empire.
Circa AD 397: Scotland's first Christian Church in Whithorn is set up by Saint
AD 685: The Picts win the Dun Nechtain, keeping the Northumbrian
King out of what we now call Scotland.
1314: An army led by Robert the Bruce defeats the English at the
Battle of Bannockburn.
1328: At the Treaty of Northampton, England recognises Scotland as
an independent country with Robert The Bruce as King of Scotland.
1413: The University of St. Andrews is established.
1603: James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England.
1696: Scottish Parliament decides that a school should be set up in
every parish in Scotland.
1707: Act of Union joins Scotland with England and Wales, forming
the United Kingdom
1890: The Forth Bridge, carrying the railway across the Firth of Forth,
1999: The new Scottish Parliament sits in Edinburgh.
Wales is the smallest of the nations that form Great Britain. Its capital and largest city is Cardiff. The flag of Wales features a red dragon, which is considered a symbol of power.
AD 48: The Romans invade Wales but are slowed down by resistance
led by Caradog Caratacus.
AD 550: Saint David forms a monastery, which becomes a major
shrine for Christians.
C. AD 780-790: King Offa builds a huge earth barrier (dyke) to separate his
kingdom, Mercier, from Wales.
1067 onwards: The Normans gradually gain control over much of Wales
despite strong resistance.
1284: Edward I of England conquers most of Wales and builds
1400: Owain Glyndŵr leads a rebellion against the English and
claims the title Prince of Wales.
1913: Peak of iron and coal production in Wales.
1951: Snowdonia National Park opens the first national park in
1999: The National Assembly for Wales sits for the first time in
2020: The National Assembly is renamed Senedd Cymru (Welsh
Northern Ireland is the smallest part of the UK and the only part that is not in Great Britain. Its capital, Belfast, is one of the UK's largest cities. It is home to about one-third of Northern Ireland's population.
AD 432: Saint Patrick travels from Armagh throughout Ireland to
1169: The Normans land in Ireland at the request of Dermot
MacMurrough, the former king of Leinster.
1609: James I gives land in Ulster to English and Scottish settlers as
part of the plantation of Ulster.
1690: William III defeats the supporters of ousted James II at the
Battle of the Boyne.
1801: Act of Union makes the whole island of Ireland part of the
1829: After a long campaign led by Daniel O'Connell, Catholic
emancipation is granted. Catholics are now allowed to sit in
the Westminster Parliament.
1845 to 1849: The great famine. A time of hardship and hunger leads to
the deaths of more than one million people.
1921: Northern Ireland is established and Ireland is partitioned.
1969: The Troubles, a conflict that went on for almost 30 years,
1998: The Belfast Good Friday Agreement signals an end to The
Troubles. The Northern Ireland assembly sits for the first time at Stormont.
“Your map was so helpful!” Exclaimed Isabella, as she settled down in great granny's comfy armchair. “I understand how the four nations fit together now.
“So, the queen reigns over the UK today but who ruled these four nations in the past?”
“Good question,” Smiled great granny Joyce putting her arm around Isabella. “Let me tell you about some of them…”
Hywel Dda (reigned AD 910 to 927)
Hywel’s name means Hywel the good in Welsh. Under his rule, most of Wales was united in a kingdom called Deheubarth. After he established peace, Hywel brought in laws that focused on fairness and justice, and these formed the basis of Welsh life for centuries
Æthelstan (reigned AD 925 to 939)
After Alfred the Great defeated the Vikings, his grandson, Æthelstan, united the country and became the first king of all England. During his reign, England was at peace. He built many churches and monasteries, and was famous throughout Europe as a wise and fair king.
Brian Baru (reigned 1002 to 1014)
Brian was king of a province called Munster. He then conquered Leinster, another provice, and defeated the Vikings. According to legend, Brian refused to fight and kill people on holy days such as Good Friday. His harp is still regarded as the symbol of the Republic of Ireland.
Macbeth (reigned 1040 to 1057)
Macbeth seized the throne of Scotland in 1040 after killing Duncan I in battle. He was an effective ruler. He changed the law so daughters and sons had equal inheritance rights. The son of Duncan I attacked Scotland in 1054 and killed Macbeth in battle in 1057.
Mary Queen of Scots (reigned 1542 to 1567)
Mary's reign over Scotland proved difficult and she was forced off the throne in 1567. She fled to England but was captured and kept in prison by Elizabeth I for many years. Later, in 1587, Mary was executed after being accused of helping an attempt to overthrow Elizabeth I.
“Amazing! Every nation has so much history.”
Great granny Joyce turned to face Isabella.
“The great thing about having lots of different monarchs and separate histories of the UK nations is that we now have many different cultures.”
“Wow! How can I find out more about all the different parts?”
“Here,” said great granny Joyce, handing over a leaflet from the treasures box. “You can read about all the remarkable things our country has to offer.
As well as English, the UK has 10 other native languages including Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic, Scots, Ulster Scots, Cornish and Welsh. Wales is bilingual, which means both English and Welsh have official status.
More than 500,000 people speak Welsh. Some children speak Welsh at home and others learn it in school. Welsh is written on road signs, in shops and on public buildings. There is a Welsh language television channel, Welsh bands that play all kinds of music, and a huge variety of Welsh language books to read and enjoy
The UK is the birthplace of many sports including football, tennis, cricket, golf, and rugby. Other traditional sports are also enjoyed such as Gaelic football, hurling, kapan simota rugby and shinty (similar to hockey).
London is the only city to have hosted the Olympic Games three times, while Edinburgh has hosted the Commonwealth Games twice. Rugby is played at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff; Gaelic games at casement park in Belfast; and Highland Games events are held across Scotland. In England, there is tennis at Wimbledon and football finals at Wembley Stadium.
Landscape and Culture
The UK has a varied landscape from the rolling hills and valleys of Wales, to Scottish glens and morelands, and from the rugged coastline of Northern Ireland, to England's lush farmland.
World heritage sites include Stonehenge in England, Edinburgh's Old and New Towns in Scotland, Ponte aqueduct and canal, in Wales, and the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.
Each nation has its own cultural associations. You might think of afternoon tea and cricket in England; haggis and tartan in Scotland; Welsh cakes and daffodils in Wales; and soda bread and folk music in Northern Ireland.
But this is just a tiny part of the UK's truly diverse cultures and traditions.
“Look at these beautiful locks and mountains. I'd love to go on a trip around the UK, great granny Joyce.”
The UK has excelled in literature and drama from the historic plays of William Shakespeare, to the more recent works of authors Kate Roberts, Julia Donaldson and Mallory Blackman. Outstanding film and television performances include those by actors John Boyega, Michelle Fairley and Ewan McGregor. Festivals, such as Eisteddfod in Wales, showcase poetic and musical talents.
The queen has seen many UK singers and musicians emerge during her reign. At the annual royal variety performance, the queen has enjoyed performances by Tom Jones, Susan Boyle, Ed Sheeran and Emily Sunday.
Isabella had learnt so much about the UK and she couldn't wait to hear more. While great. Granny juice was busy in the kitchen. Isabella made another discovery. A large piece of paper was curled up at the very bottom of the treasures box. Isabella enrolled it and using anything she could find to hold it down spread it out on the floor.
It was a map of the world. Isabella loved looking at maps and having the world laid out before her.
At that moment, great granny Joyce walked in and her eyes widened when she saw the map
“Oh, the world map. Now that's another story.”
Isabella, picked up the map and sat, with her great granny on the armchair. Great granny's old ginger cat, Tiger, tried to sneak a peek too.
Isabella was keen to show great granny Joyce, what she had learnt at school. So she began pointing out the continents.
“Europe, where we live, Africa, Asia, Oceania, North America, South America and Antarctica.”
“That's right,” said great granny Joyce. “I love to travel and see the world. I'm a bit like the queen, really. Her majesty has been to many places. So many more than me. Her first overseas trip was a visit to southern Africa when she was 20. Since then, she has seen the elephants in India; admired the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia, and so much more. In fact, she's visited almost every country in the Commonwealth.”
Isabella wondered about this latest mysterious word.
“What is the commonwealth? I've never heard of it.”
Great granny Joyce replied, “The commonwealth is a group of countries that work together. The queen is the head of the commonwealth. She has been to many meetings of the government leaders and every March, on Commonwealth Day, she sends a message to all Commonwealth citizens.”
What does the Commonwealth do?
Today, the Commonwealth is an equal group of countries. Its roots go back to the 16th century, when Britain began to expand its empire. During the 20th century, countries that had been part of the British Empire started to gain independence. Many came together to form the Commonwealth.
In 1949, all Commonwealth members were recognised as independent and equal to one another. And it was decided that other countries could be part of the Commonwealth. The modern Commonwealth of Nations was born.
This aims for a fairer future for its citizens by promoting peace, improving education and health care, helping poorer countries and by addressing global problems such as climate change. Each country has an equal voice.
In 2018, the Prince of Wales was chosen to be the next head of the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth countries
Great granny Joyce’s map shows the countries of the Commonwealth today. Membership of the modern Commonwealth is not dependent on having any historical connections to Britain. Since its creation, membership has grown to 54 countries, spread all around the world. At the start, the only members were Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.
joined in 1947.
India is a vast country that reaches into the Himalayan mountains, wide rivers and sweeping planes as well as more than one billion people.
joined in 1947, left in 1972, rejoined in 1989.
Pakistan has a rich landscape from forested hills and some of the world's highest mountains, to wide river valleys and vast deserts.
joined in 1962.
Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean, known for its white, sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, dense rainforests and towering mountains.
Trinidad and Tobago
joined in 1962.
Trinidad and Tobago is the location of Pitch Lake, the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world, which replenishes itself despite being emptied again and again to pave roads.
joined in 1963.
Every year, millions of animals, including wildebeest, zebras and gazelles, travel through the Maasai Mara national reserve, in Kenya, as part of the great migration.
joined in 1995.
Mozambique has a breathtaking coastline and the Zambezi River flows through its centre.
Papua New Guinea
joined in 1975.
Papua New Guinea’s stunning variety of plants and animals includes 20,000 species of plants, 800 species of coral, 600 species of fish and 750 species of birds.
“Like many people from the Commonwealth, I came to the UK during the 1950s, around the start of the Queen's Reign. I miss Jamaica. The feel of the hot sun on my skin and the taste of sweet mangoes picked right from the trees. I hope you visit one day, Isabella.”
Immigration means coming to one country from another and making a new home there.
After World War 2, there were lots of job vacancies in the UK, so the government offered all commonwealth citizens free entry into the UK. Some employers paid the fares for people to come to work in the National Health Service (NHS), in factories and on railways. The first people to arrive came from the Caribbean. They are often known as the windrush generation after Empire Windrush, a ship that brought 500 people to the UK in 1948. It wasn't easy to move so far from home and many people also faced discrimination (unfair treatment) at work and in their neighbourhoods.
During the 1960s, most of the Commonwealth citizens who emigrated to the UK were from India and Pakistan.
The 54 countries of the Commonwealth are home to about 2.5 billion people. Many people from these nations have changed the world for the better by campaigning for causes they believed in or fighting against injustice. Here are just a few Commonwealth campaigners who have left an unforgettable legacy.
In 2021, Nigerian-American economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (born 1954) became the seventh director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which ensures that global trade takes place fairly. She's the first woman, and the first African, to hold this role.
A world-class cricketer from Trinidad and Tobago, Learie Constantine (1901 to 1971) was also a lawyer, politician and campaigner against racial discrimination. He was made a baron and became the first black person to take his seat in the UK's House of Lords.
Kenyan environmentalist and activist, Wangari Maathai (1940 to 2011), founded the green belt movement in 1977, which led to the planting of more than 50 million trees In Kenya. In 2004, she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Pakistani, Benazir Bhutto (1953 to 2007), was the first woman in her country to become Prime Minister. When she took charge in 1988, she was also the first Muslim woman ever to become a head of government. She served as Prime Minister twice for a total period of five years.
South African lawyer, Nelson Mandela (1918 to 2013), led efforts to end apartheid and spent 27 years in prison for going against the racist government. After his release, Mandela became the first president of the newly democratic South Africa. He went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as more than 250 other awards.
Pakistani school girl and activist, Malala Yousafzai (born 1997), stood up against the Taliban, a religious military group, by demanding that girls be allowed to attend school. She survived being shot by the Taliban and then went on to graduate from Oxford University. In 2014, she became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
And that's Chapter One. There are five more chapters after this one:
- Family and Friends
- Ambitions and Achievements
- Charity and Care
- Inspiration and Innovation
- Celebration and Ceremony