The whole of the UK will be aflame on Monday June 4th when a network of 4,000 beacons is lit to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and where better to be when it happens than in the UK capital where the monarch herself resides.
Numerous beacon events are being planned across London, both in the city centre and in its surrounding boroughs, so visitors will have plenty of options if they want to witness a lighting ceremony.
Of course the biggest and best of all will be Her Majesty’s beacon at Buckingham Palace, which she will light personally at around 22:30 BST. It will be the last one in the chain and will follow on from the BBC Diamond Jubilee Concert held in the grounds of the Queen’s residence.
The event is being organised by singer Gary Barlow and will feature a line-up of acts from every decade of the Queen’s reign, from Shirley Bassey and Cliff Richard to Jessie J and Ed Sheeran.
Of course this is a ticket-only event and a national ballot has already been held. Fortunately visitors staying in luxury suites in hotel accommodation in London this weekend can watch all the action on specially-erected screens along the Mall, in St James’ Park and in Hyde Park.
Other beacons will be aglow in Trafalgar Square, the City of London School, the Tower of London, the Royal National Hotel, Notting Hill, Mile End Park, Christ Embassy, Wimbledon Common and Hammersmith Town Hall.
The lighting of beacons is a long-standing British tradition that has been used for centuries to celebrate royal weddings, coronations and jubilees. They have been set aflame on village greens, church towers, castle battlements, beaches and even front gardens.
Once used as a method of communication, it is now seen as a symbol of unity across the nation.
Queen Elizabeth II is only the second British monarch to have celebrated a Diamond Jubilee. Before her was Queen Victoria in 1897, and beacons were lit to commemorate this date too.