Queen Elizabeth II platinum jubilee: Windsor welcomes the crowds on a royal scale

Small Berkshire town is expected to attract thousands as it puts on a show of pride in its most famous resident

Customers view a souvenir flag commemorating the platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth outside a shop in Windsor. Getty Images
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Residents of Windsor are no strangers to world-class events on their doorstep, but the royal town’s celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee will be unlike any event in living memory.

The queen's 70-year reign will be marked in a unique way at parties in the shadow of Windsor Castle over the four-day bank holiday weekend which culminates in nationwide street parties and a festive pageant on Sunday.

Fireworks, a gigantic picnic, a classic car show and a centuries-old traditional “ox roast” are expected to draw the biggest numbers of royal fans to the town since Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May 2018.

“We’ve had royal weddings, we’ve had royal funerals but they’re not unique,” Paul Roach, the Windsor town manager, told The National. "This particular occasion is unique in the true sense.

“People will want to celebrate and be part of what will be a unique occasion that certainly won’t happen [again] in our lifetime or in our children’s lifetime.

"So we’re going to try our best to mark the occasion for the unique occasion that it is.”

‘If we surpass royal wedding numbers it will be an achievement’

About 130,000 royal fans lined gathered on the Long Walk in May 2018, many straining their necks in the hope of catching a glimpse of Prince Harry and his American wife on their wedding day.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to be married in the small Berkshire town resulted in a major boost for Windsor’s businesses.

Mr Roach said that given the recent surge in tourism in the town after the lifting of Covid-19 and international travel restrictions, the jubilee celebrations could bring even greater numbers.

“There is an expectation that as the UK opens up to the rest of the world, that we will have international visitors,” he said.

“Our footfall is currently trending above what it was in 2019, pre-pandemic level. Added to that [are] events that we wouldn’t normally do, so the hope is our footfall will be higher.

People walk past a shop window display commemorating the platinum jubilee in Windsor. Getty Images

“If we see the peak get higher than 2018 then that will be a real achievement. We’ve got a lot to look forward and there’s a bounce back. People will want to celebrate.”

While the organisers of such events are well rehearsed in catering for crowds, Mr Roach said trying to reduce the amount of waste generated remains a constant challenge.

Those in the mood to partake in celebrations are encouraged to bring their own food, drinks, cutlery and table cloths.

“If you look back at traditional street parties, you would go outside your front door, you’d bring food you provided, your own table cloth, your own napkins, your own fine china and cutlery, have your picnic and then go home," Mr Roach said.

"Other than the food waste part of it, you’re not generating plastic cups, knives and forks. The challenge for us is how do we make this the most sustainable event that we can have?”

“One of the things we’re trying to encourage, not just at our event but at all the events, is making sure they’re as sustainable as possible and that we’re not generating millions of tonnes of waste that will go into landfill. We’re trying to impress this upon everybody that comes.”

Thursday June 2

In keeping with royal jubilee tradition, an ox roast will be held on a green area known as Bachelor’s Acre to start the four-day festivities.

An ox was first roasted on the exact spot in October 1809 to celebrate King George III’s golden, or 50th, jubilee, and in 1887 the townsfolk gathered for a similar event to mark Queen Victoria’s 50 years on the throne.

This time it will be a little different, with vegetarian options available and a pop-up bar serving alcohol. The queen has agreed to donate the ox and proceeds of the gathering will go to charity.

Later that evening, royal fans will be invited to a beacon-lighting ceremony on the Long Walk outside the castle before the night sky will be lit up by fireworks.

Friday June 3

St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle will host a musical celebration of the queen’s seven decades of service.

Saturday June 4

The Long Walk, which stretches almost five kilometres from the castle to Copper Horse Statue, will host the Jubilee Picnic in the Park.

Seventy classic cars representing each year of the monarch’s historic reign will be parked up on the grass for revellers to admire, and local bands and singers will provide entertainment on a stage.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 18: A man has his photograph taken next to a life-size cardboard cutout of Queen Elizabeth II displayed in a shop on May 18, 2022 in Windsor, England. The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II is being celebrated from June 2 to June 4, 2022, in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952.  (Photo by Carl Court / Getty Images)

Giant TV screens will show live coverage of the jubilee party at Buckingham Palace. The event is free and booking is not required.

Across the river from Windsor, visitors will find Eton High Street transformed to host a traditional royal street party. All are welcome to attend but only those with tickets will be guaranteed a seat.

Sunday June 5

Windsor’s Big Lunch – The Long Table will cap off the celebrations. Tickets for a seat at the banquet have sold out and anyone planning to attend is encouraged to bring their own table, chairs or prepare to sit on the grass.

Prince Edward and his wife Sophie will be guests of honour at the event, which organisers hope will break a world record for the longest picnic table.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex will meet performers at the celebrations, a representative of the couple confirmed. Some of those who will be on hand to entertain the crowds include stilt walkers and balloon modellers.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will attend a similar Big Jubilee Lunch in London.

A member of the Legoland Windsor staff places a figure into a display recreating a platinum jubilee picnic scene in front of Windsor Castle. PA

Pupils at schools in and around Windsor have for weeks been preparing for the Jubilee. In early May a group of children delivered a tapestry they had made to mark the queen’s historic milestone to the governor of Windsor Castle.

Some of those who will be on hand to entertain the crowds include stilt walkers and balloon modellers.

A 1,000-strong choir made up of students from several schools will perform The Long Walk, a song specially composed by singer-songwriter Emily Barden. The chorus goes: “Now is the time to jubilate. Courage, honour, pride as we journey down the Long Walk together, side by side”.

The group will perform the song at the Jubilee Picnic in the Park on Saturday and the Big Lunch on Sunday.

More than 85,000 people across the UK have registered to hold Big Jubilee Lunches over the four-day weekend. Farther afield, over 600 parties have been planned in Commonwealth nations including Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

For tickets and further information about Windsor's platinum jubilee events see the local borough's website.

Jubilee celebrations through the years:

Updated: June 03, 2022, 11:49 AM