Princess Elizabeth sat for this portrait by the celebrated Canadian-Armenian photographer Yousef Karsh - "Karsh of Ottowa" - in July 1951

The Diamond Jubilee is upon us here in the UK. Union jacks are displayed in abundance in all of the UK’s villages, towns and cities. If there is a time for the closet royalists of Britain to emerge, now is that moment. One thing is certain: Queen Elizabeth II does have a great deal of national support.

The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II is the international celebration throughout 2012 marking the 60th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the thrones of seven countries upon the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952. Today, Queen Elizabeth II is queen regnant of 16 sovereign states, 12 of which were British colonies or Dominions at the start of her reign.

Queen Elizabeth II marks history on this special occasion as the only other monarch besides Queen Victoria of 1897 to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a few other Commonwealth realms.

The Diamond Jubilee is an international occasion and great praise, respect and good-will messages are pouring in to her Majesty the Queen from fellow world leaders.
Recent documentaries on the BBC have shown the Queen in a very positive light. And it is not simply an act of great PR: her Majesty the Queen does serve a very vital role in society. Her daily dedication to this service becomes evermore apparent when we learn the following:

● The Queen has answered around three and a half million items of correspondence.

● The Queen has sent over 175,000 telegrams to centenarians in the UK and the Commonwealth.

● The Queen has sent almost 540,000 telegrams to couples in the UK and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding (60 years) anniversary (my grandparents included).

Grandparents Ronald & Elsie White of County Durham, England celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary with correspondence from Queen Elizabeth II.

● The Queen is currently patron of over 600 charities and organisations, over 400 of which she has held since 1952.

● Since 1952, The Queen has conferred over 404,500 honours and awards.

● The Queen has personally held over 610 Investitures.

● The Queen has given out approximately 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI

● In 60 years, The Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 96 State Visits, to 116 different countries.

● Many of The Queen’s official tours were undertaken on the Royal Yacht Britannia. It was launched by Her Majesty on 16th April 1953 and was commissioned for service on 7th January 1954. It was de-commissioned in December, 1997. During this time, Britannia travelled more than a million miles on Royal and official duties.

● In 60 years, The Queen has often travelled to her major Realms. Her Majesty has visited Australia 16 times, Canada 22 times, Jamaica 6 times and New Zealand 10 times.

● The Queen’s official visits have ranged from the Cocos Islands, 5.4 square miles with a population of 596, to The Peoples’ Republic of China, 3.7 million square miles with a population of 1.34 billion.

● The only time The Queen has had to interrupt an overseas tour was in 1974 during a tour of Australia and Indonesia. The Queen was called back to the UK from Australia when a general election in the UK was suddenly called. The Duke of Edinburgh continued the programme in Australia, and The Queen re-joined the tour in Indonesia.

● Her Majesty’s first Commonwealth tour, as Queen, began on 24 November 1953, and included visits to Canada, Bermuda, Jamaica, Panama, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, the Cocos Islands, Ceylon, Aden, Uganda, Libya, Malta and Gibraltar. The total distance covered was 43,618 miles.

● The Queen made an historic visit to the Republic of Ireland in May 2011, the first visit by a British Monarch since Irish independence (King George V had visited in 1911).

● There have been 102 inward State Visits from 1952 to the end of 2011 (up to and including Turkey in November 2011).

● The Queen has laid her wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday every year of her reign, except in 1959, 1961, 1963, 1968, 1983 and 1999 when she was either pregnant or overseas on an official visit.

● The Queen has attended 56 Royal Maundy services in 43 Cathedrals during her reign. A total of 6,710 people have received Maundy Money in recognition of their service to the Church and their communities.

● The Queen has been at the saluting base of her troops in every Trooping of the Colour ceremony since the start of her reign, with the exception of 1955, when a national rail strike forced the cancellation of the parade.

● The Queen has attended 35 Royal Variety performances.

● The Queen has launched 21 ships during her reign.

● Since it was launched to mark The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service has been awarded to over 750 voluntary organisations across all four countries in the UK. Winners of the award have included local scout groups, community radio stations, groups who care for the elderly and environmental charities.

● The Queen has sat for 129 portraits during her reign.

● The first ‘Royal walkabout’ took place during the visit by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to Australia and New Zealand in 1970. The practice was introduced to allow them to meet as many people as possible, not simply officials and dignitaries.

● In 1969 the first television film about the family life of the Royal Family was made, and shown on the eve of the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales.

● The Queen has made a Christmas Broadcast to the Commonwealth every year of her reign except 1969, when a repeat of the film ‘Royal Family’ was shown and a written message from The Queen issued. In 2002 The Queen made her 50th Christmas Broadcast and in 2004 The Queen issued her first separate broadcast for members of the British Armed Forces.

● The Queen hosts “theme days” and Receptions to promote and celebrate aspects of British culture. Recent examples from 2011 include a reception for Young People and the Performing Arts and for Explorers. Other themes have included Publishing, Broadcasting, Tourism, Emergency Services, Maritime Day, Music, Young Achievers, British Design, and Pioneers.

● In an average year, The Queen will host more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace. The Queen also hosts more than 8,000 people each year at garden parties and investitures at Holyrood house, during Holyrood Week.

● With the birth of Prince Andrew in 1960, The Queen became the first reigning Sovereign to have a child since Queen Victoria, who had her youngest child, Princess Beatrice, in 1857.

● During the Silver Jubilee year, The Queen toured 36 counties in the UK and Northern Ireland, starting in Glasgow on the 17th May. During her Golden Jubilee year ,The Queen toured 35 counties beginning in Cornwall on 1st May.

● The Queen’s first foreign tour of the Silver Jubilee year was a visit to Western Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. The first foreign tour of The Queen’s Golden Jubilee year was to Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia.

● The Queen has 30 godchildren.

● The Queen has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign, starting with Susan who was a present for her 18th birthday in 1944. A good proportion of these have been direct descendants from Susan. Her Majesty currently has three corgis – Monty, Willow and Holly.

● The Queen has attended every opening of Parliament except those in 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.

As she so memorably said during her Coronation Speech on 2nd June 1953:
“…The ceremonies you have seen today are ancient, and some of their origins are veiled in the mists of the past. But their spirit and their meaning shine through the ages never, perhaps, more brightly than now. I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.”
This week, the Queen has renewed her vow to Britain once again. Her message says: “Today, as I mark 60 years as your Queen, I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Philip over these years and to tell you how deeply moved we have been to receive so many kind messages about the diamond jubilee.

“In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope that we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family friendship and good neighbourliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign and which my family and I look forward to seeing in many forms as we travel throughout the UK and the wider Commonwealth.

“I hope also that this jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future with clear heads and warm hearts as we join together in our celebrations. I send my sincere good wishes to you all.”

Colourful Decor at Royal Teas, Stanhope, County Durham, England. The only Royal Tearoom in the entire world dedicated to the British Monarchy © The Culture Cave

Sandringham Sandwiches at Royal Teas © The Culture Cave

The celebrations are well underway. Taking the news by storm is the North of England is “Royal Teas”, the one and only tearoom in the world that is dedicated to the British Monarchy. Set up and run by Anita Atkinson, Deputy Lieutenant for County Durham to Queen Elizabeth II herself, Anita has spent her entire life collecting royal memorabilia and has for many years held the Guinness Book of Records title as the holder of the most royal memorabilia. The royal memorabilia are now on display to the public at Royal Teas in Stanhope, County Durham, along with royal statues and figures, including Prince William, Princess Kate and the Queen herself. The menu choices at Royal Teas are ofcourse, royal-themed. You can indulge yourself in the following quirky choices: Balmoral Bite, Windsor Wonder, Sandringham Sandwiches and Buckingham Palace Afternoon Tea.

Windsor Wonder at Royal Teas served on Royal Memorabilia Fine Bone China © The Culture Cave


“In the words of French Queen Marie Antoinette “Let them eat cake!” ” a visitor at Royal Teas chuckles. Royal Teas is all about decadence, serving large slices of Victorian sponge cake and afternoon tea. All tea-drinkers receive free refills. Food and drink is served on fine bone china from the royal memorabilia collection itself.

Pictured left to right Deputy Lieutenant to Queen Elizabeth II Anita Atkinson, Jennifer Pinder, Joan Penn, Gabriella White and Mikiko Davies of Kyushu, Japan © The Culture Cave

Anita hit press internationally once again just last month, following the recent story of three republicans entering Royal Teas two weeks ago: the three ladies refused to stand for the National Anthem and were asked to leave after further causing a negative ambiance at Royal Teas. The story has since sparked a royal vs. Republican debate. The National Anthem is a daily ritual held in the tearooms at precisely 3pm. Visitors stand and sing the National Anthem, led by Anita. Royal Teas, which opened this year on Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday on April 21st 2012 has been a real hit with the public, attracting international visitors from the Netherlands, France, New Zealand and Japan to name but a few. Singing the National Anthem lies at the core of the theme of the tearooms. Anita has since taken the National Anthem out onto the streets of Stanhope. Anita explained “I did the 3pm National Anthem outside today for the folks from Cross Hill and people walking past stopped and stood to attention!” “It was classic!” she laughs.

Pictured with outdoor Queen at Royal Teas (left to right) : Gabriella White, Joan Penn and Mikiko Davies of Kyushu, Japan © The Culture Cave

Royal Teas at Stanhope, County Durham, England © The Culture Cave

Jubilee Celebrations at Royal Teas! Pictured: Gabriella White with Deputy Lieutenant to the Queen, Anita Atkinson © The Culture Cave

It is indeed difficult to imagine what Britain would be like without a Royal Family. Royalty undoubtedly plays a leading role in Britain’s national identity around the world. Not only does the Queen act as a national symbol in international relations, but the Royal Family serve a very functional role too. In Britain, the government rule under the Queen and although it is the Prime Minister who makes the nation’s political decisions, it is the Queen, the ultimate head of the state, who has the final say. Since 1952 The Queen has given Royal Assent to more than 3,500 Acts of Parliament. The Prime Minister must report to the Queen throughout the year: all that to say: he is always answerable to the Queen.

Over the reign, Her Majesty has given regular audiences to 12 Prime Ministers. They are:

Winston Churchill 1951-55
Sir Anthony Eden 1955-57
Harold Macmillan 1957-63
Sir Alec Douglas-Home 1963-64
Harold Wilson 1964-70 and 1974-76
Edward Heath 1970-74
James Callaghan 1976-79
Margaret Thatcher 1979-90
John Major 1990-97
Tony Blair 1997-2007
Gordon Brown 2007-2010
David Cameron 2010 – present

This weekend marks an Official Holiday for all of Britain. The Queen has been traversing the UK in the run-up to the June celebrations, welcomed by crowds of jubilant jubilee-celebrators. Furthermore, she would like Britain and the world to know that she has been “deeply moved” by the support for the Diamond Jubilee.

Royal Teas. Pictured: Gabriella White and Mikiko Davies of Kyushu, Japan © The Culture Cave


Royal Teas - the main tearoom © The Culture Cave

Prince Charles displayed at Royal Teas © The Culture Cave

Royal Memorabilia displayed at Royal Teas. Visitors can delve into the piles of Royal Memorabilia including literature old and new on British Culture © The Culture Cave

Ladies Day at Royal Teas. Pictured left to right: Gabriella White, Deputy Lieutenant to the Queen Anita Atkinson, Elisabeth White © The Culture Cave

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