In 1977, the Silver Jubilee celebrations took place in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth to mark the 25th year of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.
Queen Elizabeth officially succeeded to the throne after the death of her father, George VI, on 6 February 1952 which is known as Accession Day. The anniversary of Accession Day is generally marked with a church service since it is also the anniversary of the death of the previous monarch, and there were services held in different countries around the world throughout the month.
While most of the official Jubilee celebrations were organised for the month of June for the Queen’s official birthday, the Queen actually embarked on a special tour of the Commonwealth countries that virtually took up the whole of the year and made her the most travelled monarch in history. The tour abroad began on 10 February 1977 in American Samoa in the South Pacific and ended with a Silver Jubilee Pageant in Hong Kong on 28 November 1977, however the Queen did return to Britain at the beginning of May and stayed until she left for Canada in October. During the months in Britain, the Queen visited over 36 different counties within the space of 3 months.
The main celebrations in Britain began on the evening of 6 June 1977 when Her Majesty lit a bonfire beacon at Windsor Castle, which was the signal for a chain of other beacons to be lit throughout the whole country. The following day a Thanksgiving Service was held at Westminster Abbey which was attended by world leaders, such as US President Jimmy Carter, Prime Minister James Callaghan, and all former Prime Ministers who were still alive at that time.
After the service, a luncheon was held at the Guildhall hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City which was followed by a royal procession down The Mall to Buckingham Palace. The day’s events were also broadcast live to more than 500 million people around the Commonwealth. Throughout the day, the Queen made several appearances on the balcony to get the thousands of well-wishers gathered outside the Palace. There were also a series of street parties held nationwide, with over 400 taking place in London alone, where residents decorated their streets with flags and held their own parades.
On 9 June 1977, the Queen made a Royal Progress trip down the River Thames from Greenwich to Lambeth, a re-enactment of the progresses taken by Queen Elizabeth I. Tower Bridge was painted in a colour scheme of red, white, and blue for the Silver Jubilee and The Queen officially opened the Silver Jubilee Walkway and the South Bank Jubilee Gardens. In the evening, she presided over a fireworks display and was taken by a procession of lighted carriages to Buckingham Palace, where she greeted onlookers yet again from the balcony.