I would like to make a brief statement about Her Majesty the Queen’s diamond jubilee.
Today marks the beginning of the Queen’s 60th year on the throne and the start of Her Majesty’s diamond jubilee. It is therefore a truly historic day for our nation.
I know that the House will want to join me in paying tribute to the Queen today and thanking Her Majesty for 60 years of dedicated service and inspirational leadership to all the countries of the United Kingdom, the Realms, Overseas Territories and the Commonwealth.
We expect this to be a year full of celebrations and reflections on the Queen’s remarkable achievements. During the diamond jubilee weekend in June we will enjoy a river pageant on the Thames, featuring a new specially designed royal barge and a flotilla of 1,000 other vessels. There will be a Big Jubilee Lunch up and down the country, a concert at Buckingham palace and a chain of 2012 beacons will be lit throughout the Commonwealth. We will also see the more traditional ceremonial events, including a national service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, a carriage procession, and an appearance on the balcony at Buckingham palace on
In addition, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, supported by other members of the royal family, will undertake a series of regional visits and engagements throughout the United Kingdom. Members of the royal family will also travel overseas representing the Queen in visiting every realm as well as a number of Commonwealth countries, Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories.
There will be many more special diamond jubilee events taking place throughout the year, including Her Majesty’s address to both Houses in March.
The Government and devolved Administrations are working closely with the royal household to ensure it has the best possible support in this important year and that we play our part in the celebrations.
We have, in partnership with the devolved Administrations, commissioned the diamond jubilee medal. It is being manufactured by the Worcestershire medal service and is being delivered in time for all recipients to wear during the ceremonial events of the central weekend.
At the end of this month, we will be launching a new diamond jubilee category for the Queen’s award for voluntary service, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in jubilee year, and we will also be announcing the winners of the two civic honours competitions in March.
At the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth last October, I was delighted to welcome the establishment of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust under the chairmanship of Sir John Major. Today, Sir John has officially launched the trust. He has also announced that the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Mr Kamalesh Sharma, will be one of its trustees.
I am pleased to confirm that the British Government will make a significant contribution to the trust of up to £50 million. This will help the trust undertake activities to transform the lives of the Commonwealth’s poorest citizens, and we hope it will attract other contributions from other Governments and members of the public across the Commonwealth. The arrangements for the UK Government’s support, which will be made through the UK’s Department for International Development from its official development assistance budget, will be finalised soon.
The Government will also be providing operational support to the key events over the diamond jubilee weekend, including policing, crowd control, and transport management, as well as support for the ceremonial events.
Further details of these events and other plans for the diamond jubilee are available online at: www.direct.gov.uk/diamondjubilee, as well as from the official diamond jubilee website, www.thediamondjubilee.org, which launches today.
Above all this will be a year when each and every one of us can come together in our communities to celebrate our gracious Queen’s long and glorious reign.