Archive for June 6th, 2012

Be mindful

“Words are seeds they do more than blow around they land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.”

Read Full Post »

Queen Elizabeth II in her coronation regalia, 2 June 1953

The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II is a multinational 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. She is today queen regnant of 16 sovereign states, 12 of which were British colonies or Dominions at the start of her reign.

Queen Victoria in 1897 is the only other monarch in the histories of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a few other Commonwealth realms to have celebrated a Diamond Jubilee. Following the tradition of jubilees past, a Diamond Jubilee medal is being awarded in various countries and holidays and events will be held throughout the Commonwealth. Plans were discussed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011.

Commonwealth-wide and beyond

In February 2012, a senior adviser was quoted as saying the Queen set two guidelines for the planning of her jubilee: the use of public funds should be minimized, and people should not “be forced to celebrate”

In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship, and good neighborliness, 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 United Kingdom and the wider Commonwealth.

Elizabeth II, 2012
At the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia, the British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the creation of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which was officially launched in the UK on 6 February 2012. Chaired by former British prime minister Sir John Major, the trust is intended to support charitable organizations and projects across the Commonwealth of Nations, focusing on areas such as cures for diseases and the promotion of all types of culture and education. In early 2012, Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard announced the Australian Crown-in-Council would make an A$5.4 million contribution to the Diamond Jubilee Trust. The New Zealand Crown-in-Council later made a $1 million donation to the fund. The Canadian government announced in April that former prime minister Jean Chrétien would be Canada’s representative to the trust.
The first major event of the jubilee celebrations was the Diamond Jubilee Pageant, also branded The World Comes to Windsor, a cavalcade held at Windsor Castle to celebrate the Queen’s visits to and tours of over 250 countries and her passion for horses. The show, which featured 550 horses and 1,100 performers from around the world, was performed on the evenings of 10, 11, 12 and 13 May, after the daytime events of the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show had taken place. The Queen attended the final night. Google displayed a Google Doodle for the Diamond Jubilee featuring the Queen’s profile, corgis, and diamonds. Top Trumps honoured the event with the release of a Queen’s Jubilee Top Trumps mobile application, creating a game out of all of “one’s favorite things”.

On 18 May, the Queen hosted an informal lunch at Windsor Castle for more than twenty current or former monarchs from other countries. In the evening of the same day, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall hosted a dinner which most of the monarchs also attended, although the Queen herself was not present. Criticism was directed at the presence of the King of Bahrain at the lunch, because of alleged repression of protests against the government of Bahrain in that country in 2011. Protesters against the King assembled outside Buckingham Palace during the dinner, although he did not attend that event.

Armed Forces

On 19 May 2012, The Queen attended the Diamond Jubilee Armed Forces Parade and Muster at Windsor Castle. The parade featured 2600 Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force soliders, sailors and airmen. This was followed by a Drum Head Service and a Royal Air Force fly past.

A Royal Navy Spit head Fleet Review was not held, nor was a separate Army or RAF review as was done for the Silver Jubilee in 1977.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Prince Charles, Prince of Wales; Prince William, Duke of Cambridge; Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; and Prince Harry aboard the MS Spirit of Chartwell during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant
The Royal Barge Gloriana
The River Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant was held on 3 June; a maritime parade of 1,000 boats from around the Commonwealth — the largest flotilla seen on the river in 350 years — together with other celebrations along the river banks. Heavy rain started during the event, and the commemorative air force flyover at the end was cancelled due to very low cloud base and bad visibility at ground level. The event was attended by various governors-general from the Commonwealth realms other than the UK.
The night after the Thames River Pageant, Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband, fell ill with a bladder infection and was hospitalised. This meant that he would be unable to attend the remainder of the Jubilee events.

Members of the Royal Family, governors-general, and prime ministers from the Commonwealth realms attended various events on 4 and 5 June: A reception was held at Buckingham Palace before the Diamond Jubilee Concert; a service of thanksgiving took place the following day at St. Paul’s Cathedral, also attended by 2,000 other guests; a reception was held at London’s Guildhall; and a luncheon took place at Lancaster House, hosted by the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Another reception solely for governors-general was held by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

The lighting of thousands of beacons across the Commonwealth took place on 4 June. The number of beacons was originally set at 2,012; by the closing date for registrations, approximately 4,000 had been submitted in the United Kingdom alone. The first beacon of the Jubilee was lit on the grounds of Apifo’ou College in Nukuʻalofa, Tonga, by Tongan girl scouts and boy scouts using coconut sheath torches. Other nations including Kenya, Australia, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, and several Caribbean states took part in the beacon lighting. The world’s most remote beacon was lit in Tristan da Cunha in the south Atlantic, using invasive, non-native plants to fuel the fire. In the United Kingdom, British servicemen and women wounded in battle and individuals representing charities will carry beacons to the summits of the UK’s four highest peaks. One beacon was lit at Treetops Hotel in Aberdare National Park in Kenya, where the Queen was at the moment of her accession to the throne. The Queen lit the beacon outside Buckingham Palace at 10:30 pm, by inserting a large, specially made, diamond-cut crystal into a receptacle. The lighting proceeded until the final beacon was lit in Canada eight hours later.

Commonwealth Realms


Quentin Bryce, the Governor-General of Australia, announced that the Diamond Jubilee would be celebrated “with a host of national and community events throughout the Commonwealth.” In that vein, it was said in late 2011 that the government of Queensland was planning to declare a holiday in June 2012 to mark the jubilee and that Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, would tour the country.

A detachment of the New South Wales Mounted Police represented Australia at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant held at Windsor.

The Prince of Wales attended a Jubilee reception for all living Victoria Cross and George Cross recipients in London in which he welcomed new Australian member Corporal Ben Roberts Smith VC to the celebrations.

During the central Jubilee weekend in London, the Australian Governor-General, Quentin Bryce was present at the Saint Paul’s Cathedral thanksgiving service. The Governor-General also attended a dinner hosted by the Queen at Buckingham House for all Commonwealth Governors- General.

The Royal Australian Mint announced in August 2011 that it would be releasing a silver proof 50-cent coin to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

A special ecumenical service to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne was conducted in St James’ Church, Sydney. The invited preacher was Cardinal George Pell and the Governor of New South Wales, Marie Bashir, was the guest of honour.

The Anglican Church of Australia held a service of Prayer and Thanksgiving to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II at St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane on the 20th of May 2012. The service was welcomed by Phillip Aspinall, Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane and the Homily was given by Mark Coleridge, Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane. The guest of honour was the Governor of Queensland, Penelope Wensley, and Ian Walker, MP represented the Government of Queensland.

Paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Australia in the Australian House of Representatives in Canberra on 6 February 2012, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stated the Queen was a revered figure in Australia. Gillard also announced that she would on 4 June light a beacon atop Parliament House and a street in the parliamentary triangle in Canberra would be renamed Queen Elizabeth Terrace. Meanwhile, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett announced on 28 May that a new waterfront development in Perth would be named Elizabeth Quay in her honour. By coincidence the Jubilee Weekend coincided with the inaugural Western Australia Day Public Holiday in Western Australia.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall will tour Australia on behalf of the Queen in November


Prince Harry toured The Bahamas. There, he attended a reception for youth leaders and met with Governor-General of the Bahamas Sir Arthur Foulkes. The Prince attended an outdoor ceremony where children’s schools, clubs, and associations presented themselves and delivered a speech at Government House,where he stated “I stand before you with a deep sense of pride at being asked to convey to you a message of good wishes from The Queen on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee.” He also took part in maritime exercises organized by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and toured Harbour Island.


The Parliament of Barbados, where the Earl of Wessex read to a joint sitting of the legislature a message from Elizabeth II, Queen of Barbados, on 23 February 2012, to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee

To mark Elizabeth II’s 60 years as Barbados’ monarch — as Queen of the United Kingdom between 1952 and 1966 and as Queen of Barbados thereafter — the country hosted the Earl and Countess of Wessex between 23 and 24 February. The tour began with Their Royal Highnesses arriving, aboard RFA Fort Rosalie, at the Deep Water Harbour of Bridgetown. At the port, Barbadian military personnel were given inspection. The Earl read to a joint sitting of the Parliament of Barbados a written message from the Queen, in which the monarch stated she has taken note of the level of development Barbados had achieved during its 45 years of independence and called the country a model small state for others around the world. Parliamentary officials responded with thanks to the Queen for her service to the country and Barbadians and invited her to the island to celebrate the 375th anniversary of the Barbadian parliament in 2014. The royal couple opened an exhibit at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and an official state dinner and reception was held at Government House in the evening.

The following day, the Countess visited the Albert C. Graham Children’s Development Centre at Ladymeade Gardens, while the Earl presented eight Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Awards to Barbadian youth at a dedication ceremony. Directly following, the couple travelled together to a ceremony to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee, where a plaque was unveiled at the Kensington Oval cricket stadium. Other events included Their Royal Highnesses lunching with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart at his residence, Ilaro Court, and touring several areas of Bridgetown that were added to UNESCO‘s list of World Heritage Sites in 2011.

As in other Commonwealth realms, a set of commemorative Diamond Jubilee stamps were released by the Barbados Postal Service.An ecumenical thanksgiving service will also be held at the St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Bridgetown on 3 June and a beacon lighting will take place at the Garrison Savannah the following day, where an official Trooping of the Colour will be performed by the Barbados Defence Force and military tattoo performed by the Royal Barbados Police Force. Members of the Barbados Boys Scout Association with high honours were chosen to aid in the actual beacon lighting.


In Belize, the Governor-Generalin-Council and the Belize Tourism Board organised a tour of the country by Prince Harry, between 2 and 3 March 2012, as part of the country’s celebrations of Elizabeth II’s 60th year as monarch of Belize, first as Queen of the United Kingdom and then, after 1981, as Queen of Belize. Harry visited Belmopan and San Ignacio and ceremonies and events had less emphasis on state protocol. In the capital, Harry unveiled a series of commemorative stamps issued by the Belize Postal Service,[56] attended the city’s street festival, and dedicated a street as Queen Elizabeth II Boulevard, where he delivered a speech on the sovereign’s behalf. The following day, the Prince journeyed to the OAS Adjacency Zone on the Belize-Guatemala border, where he participated in a cultural programme and toured an immigration facility. He also visited Xunantunich and there met children involved with the Belize Special Olympics Programme and presented a canoe to the Ruta Maya Organization in commemoration of the diamond jubilee. Harry further visited the Price Barracks, where he met members of the Belize Coast Guard Service and Belize Defence Force and laid a wreath at the monument to British soldiers killed while on service in Belize.



Forethought about the anniversary began as early as April 2007, when then-Secretary of State for Canadian Heritage (now Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) Jason Kenney requested that the various lieutenant governors begin preparations for the jubilee. Three years later, the question of a national holiday to mark the jubilee was raised in the media and a series of official announcements were made by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, one being that a new painted portrait of the Queen, the first since 1976, would be completed by an Ontario artist by 2012.

The official emblem of the Queen of Canada‘s Diamond Jubilee

The Secretary to the Queen, Kevin S. MacLeod, was charged by the Governor General-in-Council to head the Diamond Jubilee Committee (DJC)—a 14-member group of individuals drawn from the provincial and territorial governments, non-governmental organisations, officials from the Departments of Citizenship and Immigration, National Defence, and Canadian Heritage (DCH), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police —which is overseeing the organisation of the country’s fêtes for Elizabeth II’s 60 years as Queen of Canada.Similarly, Premier of Alberta Ed Stelmach in February 2011 tasked the Alberta Chief of Protocol and the Private Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta to form and head a committee to develop plans for Alberta’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. As with other royal events, the DCH will play a large role in organisation and planning. $7.5 million of resources granted to the DCH in the previous budget approved by the federal parliament has been allocated for federal jubilee celebrations, education and awareness, and distribution to community groups; $2 million is for events in the Queen’s honour and $3.7 million is allocated for the Diamond Jubilee medal. The total amount was reduced by Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore from the DJC’s original estimate of $8.8 million.


A corbel within the Sovereigns’ Arches of the federal parliament‘s Senate foyer was sculpted into a rendition of the Queen and unveiled on 9 December 2010 by Governor General of Canada David Johnston. The Royal Canadian Mint also issued an “extensive set” of coins to mark the anniversary.

During her tour of Canada in mid-2010, the Queen on 3 July dedicated the Queen Elizabeth II Gardens outside her official residence in Manitoba and there planted an Amber Jubilee Ninebark shrub, the species having been created specifically for the Diamond Jubilee. At Rideau Hall in Ottawa, she also on 30 June unveiled a commemorative stained glass window showing herself and Queen Victoria with their respective royal cyphers and renditions of the Centre Block of the Canadian parliament during the reign of each monarch. The window, a gift from the Senate, was installed above the Senate entrance to the Centre Block and dedicated by the Governor General on 7 February 2012.

The Royal Standard of Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, which was flown at various locations across Canada during Diamond Jubilee Week

A Diamond Jubilee Week began on Accession Day (6 February) 2012. That day, the Queen’s personal standard for Canada was unfurled in Ottawa, both at the monarch’s residence Rideau Hall and on Parliament Hill, as well as at provincial royal residences and legislatures across the country;⁠permission was granted by the Queen to break the usual protocol of flying the banner only where the sovereign is personally present At noon on the same day, the Peace Tower carillon played a tribute to the Queen. The Prime Minister and the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada issued statements commending the Queen for her six decades of “dedicated service to our country, to the Commonwealth and to the world.

Also on 6 February, the first of the 60,000 Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals to be distributed to citizens and permanent residents were handed out; 60 individuals were given theirs personally by the Governor General at Rideau Hall.  Federal Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Plamondon, along with other members of the Quebec separatist Bloc Québécois,  refused his medal and stated the money being spent by the Crown on jubilee events and markers was a waste. Citizens for a Canadian Republic claimed that day that the government’s spending of money on the Queen’s jubilee was to be expected “from the personality cult dynasties of North Korea or Syria, not Canada.” The Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society claimed it will stage “counter-celebrations”

In Nova Scotia, the provincial government announced the establishment of educational programmed, related to the Queen and her role in Canadian government, and the one-time award of the $2000 Diamond Jubilee Award Scholarship to 60 Grade 12 students in the province. There and in other provinces, various events were held on Accession Day and other days during the week.

After the end of Diamond Jubilee Week, further governmental events took place in Canada and abroad: At the opening of the British Columbia legislature on 14 February, the province’s lieutenant governor, Steven Point, along with Premier Christy Clark and parliamentary officials, presided over a ceremony at the parliament buildings that marked the Diamond Jubilee. The Speaker of the Senate, Noël Kinsella, and Speaker of the House of Commons, Andrew Scheer, were received by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 21 February 2012, where they presented a loyal address to the sovereign. And Lieutenant Governor of Ontario David Onley mounted at the viceregal suite at the Ontario Legislative Building an exhibition entitled 60 in 60, to “show six decades of Her Majesty’s devotion and service to Canada.”

Royal tour

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, speaks to the public outside of the Ontario Legislative Building during his tour of Canada for the Diamond Jubilee

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, toured parts of the country in May, making stops in New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. In an editorial he wrote for The Globe and Mail, Charles stated he wanted his activities during the tour to reflect the jubilee’s “central theme of service to others” and expressed that he was “returning to Canada in this special Jubilee year, to renew my own pledge of service and to encourage others to consider how they might contribute their own particular talent”.  In that vein, he in all three provinces visited with people associated with his organization The Prince’s Charities Canada and presented Diamond Jubilee Medals to recipients.

The couple arrived at Saint John Airport on the evening of 20 May. The following day, they were formally welcomed to Canada by the Governor General and met at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown with young Canadian Forces veterans and mentors involved in the Military Entrepreneurship program before moving on to Saint John. There, they undertook a walking tour of Prince William Street to observe heritage projects and meet the 2002 Committee for the Prince of Wales Municipal Heritage Leadership Prize, participated in a citizenship ceremony, attended Victoria Day events, and opened the Diamond Jubilee IT Centre at Hazen-White-St. Francis School. They then flew on to Toronto to meet with emergency workers and their families and observe the annual fireworks show at Ashbridges Bay that marks Victoria Day and the Queen’s official Canadian birthday.

The Saskatchewan Legislative Building, the centenary of which was marked by PrinceCharles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, as part of their Canadian Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tour

On 22 May, the couple attended an event at Queen’s Park, hosted by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. After, the Duchess of Cornwall visited The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, of which she is colonel-in-chief, laying at the armoury a wreath in memory of fallen Canadian soliers, while the Prince of Wales saw the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University, toured the construction site of the athletes’ village for the 2015 Pan American Games (where Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty announced a portion of Front Street running through the village would be named Diamond Jubilee Promenade), visited theYonge Street Mission, and met with the national leadership of the Assembly of First Nations. The couple also attended a luncheon hosted by the government of Ontario and participated at Fort York in a Canadian Forces event commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the Prince there wearing his uniform of a lieutenant-general of the Canadian Army.

They arrived in Regina on 23 May and marked the centenary of Saskatchewan’s legislative building, participated in a reception held by the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan at Government House, toured the First Nations University of Canada, and visited an environmentally friendly water purification plant. In the evening, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attended at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Depot Division Drill Hall a performance of the Regina Symphony Orchestra, of which Prince Charles is patron. There, the Prime Minister announced that Charles was to be appointed Honorary Commissioner of the RCMP, taking the post from his mother, the Queen, who was to become the RCMP’s Commissioner-in-Chief.

New Democratic Party MP Pat Martin, an open anti-monarchist, stated in the House of Commons that the tour was “a bread-and-circuses routine” intended to distract from cuts to the federal civil service.[94] The Minister of Canadian Heritage, James Moore, said the tour would be the “least expensive for taxpayers” of those that had taken place since 2009.

Further events

After performing in the Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Windsor Castle, members of the equestrian Musical Ride of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on 23 May, at the Queen’s request, took part in the Changing of the Guard as they formed the Queen’s Life Guard outside Buckingham Palace for 24 hours. Said by the contingent’s commander to be a “way for Canada and the Mounties to salute her Majesty the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee year”,  it was the second time the RCMP had performed the task, the first being in 1897 (when the force was named the Northwest Mounted Police), as a part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria.

We, Your Majesty’s loyal and dutiful subjects, the House of Commons of Canada in Parliament assembled, beg to offer our sincere congratulations on the happy completion of the sixtieth year of Your reign.

In this, the Diamond Jubilee year of your reign as Queen of Canada, we trust that Your gracious and peaceful reign may continue for many years and that Divine Providence will preserve Your Majesty in health, in happiness and in the affectionate loyalty of Your people.

Parliament of Canada, 2012

In the federal parliament on 31 May, a loyal address to the Queen was passed.The Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba held a Diamond Jubilee garden party at the province’s Government House on 26 May. The Royal British Columbia Museum on 1 June opened an exhibition of approximately 100 Cecil Beaton photographs of Elizabeth II throughout her life.

In the United Kingdom, Canada House, the location of the Canadian High Commission to that country, held a Big Jubilee Lunch on 3 June and two beacons were lit on the building’s roof the following evening, the night of the Diamond Jubilee Concert. Governor General Johnston attended both events and Prime Minister Harper was at the latter. Harper was also granted an audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 5 June.

A team of Canadian and British mountaineers reached the summit of Mount Barbeau, in Canada’s arctic, by 3 June and there held a tea party in celebration of the jubilee. From the summit, they sent a loyal greeting to the Queen via satellite, to which the monarch promised to reply.


The Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan will hold a garden party at Government House on Canada Day and a conference on the Canadian Crown will be conducted on 25 October. Communities across Canada are also planning events to mark the jubilee.


Prince Harry toured Jamaica between 5 and 8 March 2012,participating in various events marking his grandmother’s Diamond Jubilee as Jamaica’s queen regnant, first as Queen of the United Kingdom, between 1952 and 1962, and subsequently as Queen of Jamaica (Jamaica will also thus be concurrently celebrating 50 years of independence). During the tour, the Prince partook in military exercises with the Jamaica Defence Force, visited Bustamante Hospital for Children and, in Trelawny Parish, visited Water Square, Falmouth Pier, and the William Knibb Baptist Church, where he paid respect at the William Knibb memorial. The Prince attended an event for the charity Rise Life,[113] ran with Usain Bolt at the latter’s training ground at the University of the West Indies, Mona. There, he was also named an Honorary Fellow of the university. A Jamaica Night reception was held at the Royal Caribbean Hotel in Montego Bay and Governor-General of Jamaica Sir Patrick Allen hosted a dinner at King’s House as a combined celebration of the Diamond Jubilee and Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence. The Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, stated the tour was intended to “highlight the country’s tourism developments on the North Coast and the important work being done in the area of youth and children”.

The Governor-General and his wife travelled to London, United Kingdom (UK), to partake in various events there in June, including a reception held by the High Commissioner of Jamaica to the UK.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, the Clerk of the Executive Council, Rebecca Kitteridge is overseeing the organisation of that country’s celebrations of Elizabeth’s 60 years as Queen of New Zealand.

Sir Jerry Mateparae, the Governor-General of New Zealand, unveiled New Zealand’s Diamond Jubilee emblem and announced a full programmed would be announced in due course.New Zealand Post and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand announced in January 2012 the release a silver proof dollar coin to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the following month the Ministry for Culture and Heritage added Crown-related entries to Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand and an essay on the jubilee to NZ.History.net.nz. The Governor-General-in-Council also launched, via the Ministry of Health, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Research Grant, “seeking to purchase research projects that transfer knowledge from initiatives with proven effectiveness, into practice in the health sector”.

The official emblem of the Queen of New Zealand‘s Diamond Jubilee

The New Zealand Army Band took part in the Diamond Jubilee Pageant held at Windsor. The Band also took part in the changing of guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Jubilee.

The Prime Minister, John Key, moved a motion in the House of Representatives congratulating the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee on 7 February.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall will tour New Zealand on behalf of the Queen in November.

Oceanic realms

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge will visit the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.[31]

Other Caribbean and West Indies realms

The Queen’s realms throughout the Caribbean and West Indies are planning a number of Diamond Jubilee events. Using RFAFort Rosalie, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, will visit other Caribbean realms, including: Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and Saint Lucia.

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Historical re-enactments were put on in Saint Kitts and Nevis for the Earl and Countess of Wessex, who arrived on 3 March 2012. There, the couple met with Governor-General Sir Cuthbert Sebastian, Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, and other dignitaries, watched cultural shows (including the performance of a calypso song about the Queen), and the Earl unveiled a plaque commemorating the Diamond Jubilee and officially designated the Basseterre Valley Park as the Royal Basseterre Valley Park. They also visited Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park and the children’s ward of the JNF Hospital and the Children’s Home before attending a state dinner and fireworks display at Port Zante.[125]

Saint Lucia

The Earl and Countess of Wessex arrived in Saint Lucia on 21 February 2012 and there participated in Independence Day celebrations and attended receptions held by the Governor-General of Saint Lucia. They also visited the Association of Saint Lucia and the Saint Lucia School of Music.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a Diamond Jubilee Celebrations Committee was established to oversee events staged to mark, between February and June 2012, the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II’s accession as queen regnant of the country, from 1952 to 1979 as Queen of the United Kingdom and thereafter as Queen of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The committee head, former Minister of Culture Rene Baptiste, stated the aim was to “showcase what we have to offer, as well as our loyalty to the Parliament…” The Earl and Countess of Wessex, aboard RFA Fort Rosalie, arrived for their tour of country on 25 February and visited the restored Botanic Gardens St. Vincent and planted a Pink Poui tree, attended an official lunch at Government House, and planted Royal Palms on the Grenadines.

Trade unionist Noel Jackson said he heard displeasure expressed by Vincentians towards the royal tour and that “a lot of people were cursing.” Senator Julian Francis, the General Secretary of the governing Unity Labour Party, stated the public reaction to the presence of the royal couple “confirmed to me that we could not have won the 2009 referendum on a republic. The outpouring of the people in St. Vincent to come and greet Prince Edward yesterday confirmed to me that people, in the majority in St. Vincent, still want the monarchy… It was like a carnival in town yesterday.”

A Diamond Jubilee Lecture has been set to be delivered in March, a flower show and tea party will be held at Government House on 4 and 5 May, a stamp exhibition will be mounted at the National Trust headquarters and an exhibition of photographs of the Queen in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines at the National Public Library. A Queen’s Birthday parade will take place, as will a Diamond Jubilee Beacon Event on 4 June, part of the wider plan to light such beacons at the same time across the Commonwealth.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom’s Diamond Jubilee logo


In the United Kingdom, national and regional events to mark the Diamond Jubilee are being coordinated by the Queen-in-Council and her Royal Household at Buckingham Palace.[130] As with the Golden Jubilee in 2002, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for coordinating the Cabinet-led aspects of the celebrations. Events are being planned so as to keep the use of tax money to a minimum; most funds used to fund celebrations are being drawn from private donors and sponsors. Only the cost of security is to be borne by Her Majesty’s Treasury. The British logo for the Diamond Jubilee was selected through a contest held by the BBC children’s programme Blue Peter; the winning design, announced in February 2011, was created by ten-year-old Katherine Dewar. Drupal, a free open-source content management system, was used for the official website.

Extended weekend

On 5 January 2010, the Lord President of the Council and Business Secretary Lord Mandelson announced that an extra bank holiday would take place on 5 June 2012. By moving the Spring Bank Holiday (the last Monday in May) to 4 June, this will result in a four-day holiday in honour of the Diamond Jubilee. As national holidays are a devolved matter, Scotland’s first minister confirmed that the bank holiday would be held on 5 June in Scotland. Some economists later theorised that the holiday could reduce the country’s gross domestic product by 0.5% in the second quarter of the year, though this would be partially offset by increased sales for the hospitality and merchandise sectors.

A public bus in Altrincham in a special livery for the Diamond Jubilee

Many events were staged in London during the bank holiday weekend.The River Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant was held on 3 June. The Diamond Jubilee Concert, with a preceding afternoon picnic in the palace gardens for the 10,000 concert ticket holders, was held the following day, in front of Buckingham Palace, and featured acts representing each decade of the Queen’s 60 year reign.

Street parties were permitted to take place across the country. Special community lottery grants, called The Jubilee People’s Millions, are being offered by the Big Lottery Fund and ITV.

The final day of the official Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations included a morning Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, attended by the Queen and members of the royal family. Will Todd’s anthem The Call of Wisdom, commissioned especially for this event, was performed by the Diamond Choir made up of about 40 children from all around the UK.

The anti-monarchy campaign group Republic criticized the allocation of funds for jubilee events while cuts were made elsewhere, warned that schools could be in breach of the law by celebrating the jubilee without teaching about republican perspectives, and accused the BBC of bias in favor of the Queen. The group held a protest at the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

Permanent tributes

A mosaic picture of Elizabeth II in Towner Gallery in Eastbourne. The picture is produced by Helen Marshall for the diamond jubilee using more than 5,000 photos sent by the BBC viewers.

To mark the jubilee, the Queen has bestowed Royal Borough status on Greenwich, in southeast London. In addition, a competition was held to grant in 2012 city status to towns and either a lord mayoralty or lord provostship to one city. City status was awarded to Chelmsford in England, Perth in Scotland and St Asaph in Wales. Armagh was awarded the Lord Mayoralty. The Olympic park in East London, created for the 2012 London Olympics, will be named the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park following the Olympics. Further, the Woodland Trust has made plans to establish 60 Jubilee woodlands during 2011 and 2012, one of which is to be 500 acres and the remainder 60 acres each.

A stained glass window, paid for by MPs and members of the House of Lords, was unveiled in the Queen’s presence at Westminster Hall in March 2012.In addition, a majority of MPs have endorsed a proposal to name the clock tower of Westminster Palace that houses Big Ben, the Elizabeth Tower.[161]

Other events

On Accession Day, 6 February, a 62-gun salute was mounted on the banks of the River Thames, near the Tower of London and the Queen made a visit to Norfolk, one of the first places the monarch visited after acceding to the throne. Later in the month, Queen Elizabeth attended a multi-faith (Bahá’í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Zoroastrian) reception held at the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace, in honour of the jubilee.

The Queen addressed both houses of parliament in Westminster Hall on 20 March 2012. Also in March, the Royal Commonwealth Society launched the Jubilee Time Capsule to mark the jubilee. The British Broadcasting Corporation and Andrew Marr created the television documentary The Diamond Queen, in which various members of the Royal Family and current and former politicians spoke about the sovereign and her life. The documentary was criticized by the campaign group Republic, which argued that it breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

At Buckingham Palace, a display of the Queen’s diamonds will be opened to the public.On 4 June, the bells in each of the 34 church bell towers along the River Welland valley will ring in succession, ending with the ringing of the bell at Fosdyke 60 times.

On 19 May, the Queen attended the Diamond Jubilee Armed Forces Parade and Muster, the British Armed Forces‘ own tribute to the monarch, in Windsor Castle and nearby Home Park. The first time all three services had assembled for the Queen for such an event at the same time, it featured military reviews and a 2,500 strong military parade through the town, as well as a military flypast featuring 78 aircraft.

Overseas territories

Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, toured the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in March 2012. On Montserrat, he met participants in the Sailability BVI programme, including Special Olympics medallists, and staff and associates of the Eslyn Henley Ritchie Learning Centre, BVI Technical and Vocational Institute, BVI Services, and the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports.

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, will visit the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, between 11–13 June 2012, and Montserrat. The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation expressed “upset and concern” about the couple’s tour of Gibraltar, which Spain claims as Spanish territory.

Other Commonwealth countries

Visits are planned by Princess Anne to Zambia and Mozambique, while the Duke of Gloucester will make official visits to Uganda and Malta. In Asia, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, will visit India, while Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, will make visits to Malaysia and Singapore.

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, visited Trinidad and Tobago, as did Governor General of Canada David Johnston.

South Africa

South Africa, one of the original Dominions at the time of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, left the Commonwealth while ruled by the Apartheid Era National Party Government on 31 May 1961, and rejoined on 1 June 1994 after the first democratic election. Two significant functions to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in South Africa will be held in Cape Town.

The British Consulate in Cape Town,in conjunction with the Hout Bay and Llandudno Heritage Trust will host a firing of ancient muzzle loading cannons at East Fort in Hout Bay, which once formed part of the multiple defences of the historic Cape of Good Hope. The fort was established during the period of Dutch control of the Cape in 1781 and was greatly extended after the British took over the Cape in 1795 and subsequently in 1806. The Hout Bay and Llandudno Heritage Trust has restored the Fort’s original Swedish made 18 pounder muzzle loading cannons dating from 1752 and will fire two rolling salvo salutes, of six cannon shots each, in the Queen’s honour and in recognition of the bond of friendship between South Africa and Great Britain. The South African Navy Band will be in attendance and the guns will be fired by VIPs who will be guided by gunners of the “Honourable Order of Hout Bay Artillerymen”.

The Heritage Trust has held firings for numerous events, including previous functions associated with Britain, India, Holland, France and during a visit of a NATO fleet to Cape Town, the most recent being the visit of the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose in February 2012.

The Trust believes that the Hout Bay Battery is the oldest frequently used working battery of original muzzle loading cannons in the world.

The second function will be held at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in the heart of the historic Port of Cape Town which has a long-standing relationship with the British monarchy, dating back to 1870, when Prince Alfred opened the Breakwater Basin, today part of the V&A Waterfront.

A flotilla from the Royal Cape Yacht Club will sail past the Hildebrand Ristorante and into-the Victoria Basin and the Cape Town Highlanders will march from Ferryman’s to Nobel Square. British Consul General Chris Trott will light a beacon, followed by a further six-gun salute and both South African and British national anthems, to mark the 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s service to her people and the people of the world.

Other countries

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, a former British dependent territory and the most populous one until 1997, had The Big Jubilee Lunch on 3 June 2012, organized by the Royal Commonwealth Society in Hong Kong. On 5 June 2012, there will be a service of thanksgiving at the territory’s Anglican St. John’s Cathedral.

Prince Phillip

About 2 pm on 4 June 2012 (the second day of the festivities) HRH Prince Philip was brought to King Edward VII Hospital in London with a bladder infection, and after that had to miss the festivities. The Queen insisted that she would continue to go to these events without her consort. Early on 5 June 2012 HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the Queen’s son, went to visit Prince Philip. After the visit Prince Edward said that his father was watching the celebrations via television. Prince Philip’s absence caused rearrangements to provide someone to escort the Queen.

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, becoming visible against (and hence obscuring a small portion of) the solar disk. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun. The duration of such transits is usually measured in hours (the transit of 2012 lasted 6 hours and 40 minutes). A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the Moon. While the diameter of Venus is more than 3 times that of the Moon, Venus appears smaller, and travels more slowly across the face of the Sun, because it is much farther away from Earth.

Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena. They occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. The periodicity is a reflection of the fact that the orbital periods of Earth and Venus are close to 8:13 and 243:395 commensurabilities.

The last transit of Venus was on 5 and 6 June 2012, and was the last Venus transit of the 21st century; the prior transit took place on 8 June 2004. The previous pair of transits were in December 1874 and December 1882. After 2012, the next transits of Venus will be in December 2117 and December 2125.

Venus transits are historically of great scientific importance as they were used to gain the first realistic estimates of the size of the Solar System. Observations of the 1639 transit, combined with the principle of parallax, provided an estimate of the distance between the Sun and the Earth that was more accurate than any other up to that time. In addition, the June 2012 transit will provide scientists with a number of other research opportunities, particularly in the refinement of techniques to be used in the search for exoplanets.


Diagram of transits of Venus and the angle between the orbital planes of Venus and Earth

Venus, with an orbit inclined by 3.4° relative to the Earth’s, usually appears to pass under (or over) the Sun at inferior conjunction. A transit occurs when Venus reaches conjunction with the Sun at or near one of its nodes—the longitude where Venus passes through the Earth’s orbital plane (the ecliptic)—and appears to pass directly across the Sun. Although the inclination between these two orbital planes is only 3.4°, Venus can be as far as 9.6° from the Sun when viewed from the Earth at inferior conjunction. Since the angular diameter of the Sun is about half a degree, Venus may appear to pass above or below the Sun by more than 18 solar diameters during an ordinary conjunction.

Sequences of transits repeat every 243 years. After this period of time Venus and Earth have returned to very nearly the same point in their respective orbits. During the Earth’s 243 sidereal orbital periods, which total 88757.3 days, Venus completes 395 sidereal orbital periods of 224.701 days each, equal to 88756.9 Earth days. This period of time corresponds to 152 synodic periods of Venus.

The pattern of 105.5, 8, 121.5 and 8 years is not the only pattern that is possible within the 243-year cycle, because of the slight mismatch between the times when the Earth and Venus arrive at the point of conjunction. Prior to 1518, the pattern of transits was 8, 113.5 and 121.5 years, and the eight inter-transit gaps before the AD 546 transit were 121.5 years apart. The current pattern will continue until 2846, when it will be replaced by a pattern of 105.5, 129.5 and 8 years. Thus, the 243-year cycle is relatively stable, but the number of transits and their timing within the cycle will vary over time.

Ancient and medieval history

Cuneiform clay tablet of observations

Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa“, a cuneiform clay tablet of astrological forecasts from the Neo-Assyrian period. Library of Ashurbanipal. Ref:K.160 .

Ancient Indian, Greek, Egyptian, Babylonian, Mayan, and Chinese observers knew of Venus and recorded the planet’s motions. The early Greek astronomers called Venus by two names—Hesperus the evening star and Phosphorus the morning star. Pythagoras is credited with realizing they were the same planet. There is no evidence that any of these cultures knew of the transits. Venus was important to ancient American civilizations, in particular for the Maya, who called it Noh Ek, “the Great Star” or Xux Ek, “the Wasp Star“; they embodied Venus in the form of the god Kukulkán (also known as or related to Gukumatz and Quetzalcoatl in other parts of Mexico). In the Dresden Codex, the Maya charted Venus’ full cycle, but despite their precise knowledge of its course, there is no mention of a transit.

Modern observations

Measuring Venus transit times to determine solar parallax

Aside from its rarity, the original scientific interest in observing a transit of Venus was that it could be used to determine the distance from the Earth to the Sun, and from this the size of the Solar System, by employing the parallax method and Kepler’s third law. The technique involved making precise observations of the different durations of the transit when viewed from widely separated points on the Earth’s surface. The distance between the points on the Earth was then used as a baseline to calculate the distance to Venus and the Sun via triangulation.

Although by the 17th century astronomers could calculate each planet’s relative distance from the Sun in terms of the distance of the Earth from the Sun (an astronomical unit), an accurate absolute value of this distance had not been determined.

In 1627, Johannes Kepler became the first person to predict a transit of Venus, by predicting the 1631 event. His methods were not sufficiently accurate to predict that the transit would not be visible in most of Europe, and as a consequence, nobody was able to use his prediction to observe the phenomenon.

1639 – first scientific observation

Jeremiah Horrocks makes the first observation of the transit of Venus in 1639, as imagined by the artist J. W. Lavender in 1903

The first recorded observation of a transit of Venus was made by Jeremiah Horrocks from his home at Carr House in Much Hoole, near Preston in England, on 4 December 1639 (24 November under the Julian calendar then in use in England). His friend, William Crabtree, also observed this transit from Broughton, near Manchester. Kepler had predicted transits in 1631 and 1761 and a near miss in 1639. Horrocks corrected Kepler’s calculation for the orbit of Venus, realized that transits of Venus would occur in pairs 8 years apart, and so predicted the transit in 1639. Although he was uncertain of the exact time, he calculated that the transit was to begin at approximately 3:00 pm. Horrocks focused the image of the Sun through a simple telescope onto a piece of paper, where the image could be safely observed. After observing for most of the day, he was lucky to see the transit as clouds obscuring the Sun cleared at about 3:15 pm, just half an hour before sunset. Horrocks’ observations allowed him to make a well-informed guess as to the size of Venus, as well as to make an estimate of the distance between the Earth and the Sun. He estimated that distance to be 59.4 million miles (95.6 Gm, 0.639 AU) – about two thirds of the actual distance of 93 million miles (149.6 million km), but a more accurate figure than any suggested up to that time. The observations were not published until 1661, well after Horrocks’ death.

1761 and 1769

Diagram from David Rittenhouse’s observations of the 1769 transit of Venus

In 1663 Scottish mathematician James Gregory had suggested in his Optica Promota that observations of a transit of the planet Mercury, at widely spaced points on the surface of the Earth, could be used to calculate the solar parallax and hence the astronomical unit. Aware of this, a young Edmond Halley made observations of such a transit in 1676 from Saint Helena, but was disappointed to find that there had been only one other observation of the event and was not satisfied that the resulting calculation of the solar parallax at 45″ was accurate. In 1678 he proposed that more accurate calculations could be made using measurements of a transit of Venus, although the next such event was not due until 1761. Halley died in 1742, but in 1761 numerous expeditions were made to various parts of the world so that precise observations of the transit could be made in order to make the calculations as described by Halley—an early example of international scientific collaboration. In an attempt to observe the first transit of the pair, scientists and explorers from Britain, Austria and France travelled to destinations around the world, including Siberia, Norway, Newfoundland and Madagascar. Most managed to observe at least part of the transit, but successful observations were made in particular by Jeremiah Dixon and Charles Mason at the Cape of Good Hope.

On the basis of his observation of the transit of Venus of 1761 from the Saint Petersburg Observatory, Mikhail Lomonosov predicted the existence of an atmosphere on Venus. Lomonosov detected the refraction of solar rays while observing the transit and inferred that only refraction through an atmosphere could explain the appearance of a light ring around the part of Venus that had not yet come into contact with the Sun’s disk during the initial phase of transit.

For the 1769 transit, scientists traveled to Hudson Bay (Canada), San José del Cabo (Baja California, then under Spanish control), Tahiti, and Norway. The Czech astronomer Christian Mayer was invited by Catherine the Great to observe the transit in Saint Petersburg with Anders Johan Lexell, while other members of Russian Academy of Sciences went to eight other locations in the Russian Empire.[22] In Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society erected three temporary observatories and appointed a committee, of which David Rittenhouse was the head. The results of these observations were printed in the first volume of the Society’s Transactions, published in 1771

Observations were also made from Tahiti at a location still known as “Point Venus”.[24] This occurred on the first voyage of James Cook,[25] after which Cook explored New Zealand and Australia.

The “black drop effect” as recorded during the 1769 transit

The 1882 transit of Venus

Transit of Venus from Degania A, Israel, 2004

The unfortunate Guillaume Le Gentil spent eight years travelling in an attempt to observe either of the transits. His unsuccessful journey led to him losing his wife and possessions and being declared dead (his efforts became the basis of the play Transit of Venus by Maureen Hunter)

Unfortunately, it was impossible to time the exact moment of the start and end of the transit because of the phenomenon known as the “black drop effect“. This effect was long thought to be due to Venus’ thick atmosphere, and initially it was held to be the first real evidence that Venus had an atmosphere. However, recent studies demonstrate that it is an optical effect caused by the smearing of the image of Venus by turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere or imperfections in the viewing apparatus.

In 1771, using the combined 1761 and 1769 transit data, the French astronomer Jérôme Lalande calculated the astronomical unit to have a value of 153 million kilometers (±1 million km). The precision was less than hoped-for because of the black drop effect, but still a considerable improvement on Horrocks’ calculations

1874 and 1882

Transit observations in 1874 and 1882 allowed this value to be refined further. Several expeditions were sent to the Kerguelen Archipelago for the 1874 observations. The American astronomer Simon Newcomb combined the data from the last four transits, and he arrived at a value of about 149.59 million kilometers (±0.31 million kilometers). Modern techniques, such as the use of radio telemetry from space probes, and of radar measurements of the distances to planets and asteroids in the Solar System, have allowed a reasonably accurate value for the astronomical unit (AU) to be calculated to a precision of about ±30 meters. As a result, the need for parallax calculations has been superseded.


Further information: Transit of Venus, 2004

There was a good deal of interest in the 2004 transit as scientists attempted to measure the pattern of light dimming as Venus blocked out some of the Sun’s light, in order to refine techniques that they hope to use in searching for extrasolar planets. Current methods of looking for planets orbiting other stars only work for a few cases—planets that are very large (Jupiter-like, not Earth-like), whose gravity is strong enough to wobble the star sufficiently for us to detect changes in proper motion or Doppler shift changes in radial velocity, Jupiter or Neptune sized planets very close to their parent star, or through gravitational microlensing by planets which pass in front of background stars with the planet-parent star separation comparable to the Einstein ring. Measuring light intensity during the course of a transit, as the planet blocks out some of the light, is potentially much more sensitive, and might be used to find smaller planets. However, extremely precise measurement is needed: for example, the transit of Venus causes the Sun’s light to drop by a mere 0.001 magnitude, and the dimming produced by small extrasolar planets will be similarly tiny.


Further information: Transit of Venus, 2012

The full 2012 transit in 5–6 June 2012 was visible from the Pacific Ocean, including Hawaii, northwestern North America, northern Asia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, New Zealand, central and eastern Australia, and the Pacific islands. For most of North America and northwestern South America, the start of the transit was visible before sunset, while people in southern Asia, the Middle East, eastern Africa, western Australia, and most of Europe were able to observe the end of the transit as the Sun rose

As with the 2004 transit, the 2012 transit provided scientists numerous research opportunities, in particular in regard to the study of exoplanets. Research of the 2012 Venus transit includes:

  • Measuring dips in a star’s brightness caused by a known planet transiting the Sun will help astronomers find exoplanets. Unlike the 2004 Venus transit, the 2012 transit occurred during an active phase of the 11-year activity cycle of the Sun, and it is likely to give astronomers practice in picking up a planet’s signal around a “spotty” variable star.
  • Measurements made of the apparent diameter of Venus during the transit, and comparison with its known diameter, will give scientists an idea of how to estimate exoplanet sizes.
  • Observation made of the atmosphere of Venus simultaneously from Earth-based telescopes and from the Venus Express gives scientists a better opportunity to understand the intermediate level of Venus’ atmosphere than is possible from either viewpoint alone. This will provide new information about the climatology of the planet.
  • Spectrographic data taken of the well-known atmosphere of Venus will be compared to studies of exoplanets whose atmospheres are thus far unknown.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope used the Moon as a mirror to study the light that bounces off Venus to determine the makeup of its atmosphere. This will be a technique that astronomers could also use to study exoplanets.

Past and future transits

William Crabtree observing the transit of Venus, from The Manchester Murals by Ford Madox Brown

Currently, transits occur only in June or December (see table) and the occurrence of these events slowly drifts becoming later in the year by about two days every 243-year cycle. Transits usually occur in pairs, on nearly the same date eight years apart. This is because the length of eight Earth years is almost the same as 13 years on Venus, so every eight years the planets are in roughly the same relative positions. This approximate conjunction usually results in a pair of transits, but it is not precise enough to produce a triplet, since Venus arrives 22 hours earlier each time. The last transit not to be part of a pair was in 1396. The next will be in 3089; in 2854 (the second of the 2846/2854 pair), although Venus will just miss the Sun as seen from the Earth’s equator, a partial transit will be visible from some parts of the southern hemisphere.[35]

Past transits of Venus
Date(s) of
Time (UTC) Notes Transit path
(HM Nautical
Almanac Office)
Start Mid End
1396 November 23 15:45 19:27 23:09 Last transit not part of a pair.
1518 May 25–26 22:46
May 25
May 26
May 26
1526 May 23 16:12 19:35 21:48 Last transit before invention of telescope
1631 December 7 03:51 05:19 06:47 Predicted by Kepler
1639 December 4 14:57 18:25 21:54 First transit observed by Horrocks and Crabtree
1761 June 6 02:02 05:19 08:37 Lomonosov, Chappe d’Auteroche and others observe from Russia
1769 June 3–4 19:15
June 3
June 3
June 4
Cook sent to Tahiti to observe the transit
1874 December 9 01:49 04:07 06:26 Pietro Tacchini leads expedition to Muddapur, India. A French expedition goes to New Zealand’s Campbell Island
1882 December 6 13:57 17:06 20:15 John Philip Sousa composes a march, the “Transit of Venus“, in honor of the transit.
2004 June 8 05:13 08:20 11:26 Various media networks globally broadcast live video of the Venus transit.
2012 June 5–6 22:09
June 5
June 6
June 6
Visible in its entirety from Hawaii, Alaska, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and Eastern Asia, with the beginning of the transit visible from North America and the end visible from Europe
Future transits of Venus
Date(s) of
Time (UTC) Notes Transit path
(HM Nautical
Almanac Office)
Start Mid End
2117 December 10–11 23:58
December 10
December 11
December 11
Visible in entirety in eastern China, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Australia. Partly visible on extreme U.S. West Coast, and in India, most of Africa, and the Middle East.
2125 December 8 13:15 16:01 18:48 Visible in entirety in South America and the eastern U.S. Partly visible in Western U.S., Europe, and Africa.
2247 June 11 08:42 11:33 14:25 Visible in entirety in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Partly visible in East Asia and Indonesia, and in North and South America.
2255 June 9 01:08 04:38 08:08 Visible in entirety in Russia, India, China, and western Australia. Partly visible in Africa, Europe, and the western U.S.
2360 December 12–13 22:32
December 12
December 13
December 13
Visible in entirety in Australia and most of Indonesia. Partly visible in Asia, Africa, and the western half of the Americas.
2368 December 10 12:29 14:45 17:01 Visible in entirety in South America, western Africa, and the U.S. East Coast. Partly visible in Europe, the western U.S., and the Middle East.
2490 June 12 11:39 14:17 16:55 Visible in entirety through most of the Americas, western Africa, and Europe. Partly visible in eastern Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
2498 June 10 03:48 07:25 11:02 Visible in entirety through most of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and eastern Africa. Partly visible in eastern Americas, Indonesia, and Australia.

Over longer periods of time, new series of transits will start and old series will end. Unlike the saros series for lunar eclipses, it is possible for a transit series to restart after a hiatus. The transit series also vary much more in length than the saros series.

Grazing and simultaneous transits

Sometimes Venus only grazes the Sun during a transit. In this case it is possible that in some areas of the Earth a full transit can be seen while in other regions there is only a partial transit (no second or third contact). The last transit of this type was on 6 December 1631, and the next such transit will occur on 13 December 2611. It is also possible that a transit of Venus can be seen in some parts of the world as a partial transit, while in others Venus misses the Sun. Such a transit last occurred on 19 November 541 BC, and the next transit of this type will occur on 14 December 2854. These effects occur due to parallax, since the size of the Earth affords different points of view with slightly different lines of sight to Venus and the Sun. It can be demonstrated by closing an eye and holding a finger in front of a smaller more distant object; when you open the other eye and close the first, the finger will no longer be in front of the object.

The simultaneous occurrence of a transit of Mercury and a transit of Venus does occur, but extremely infrequently. Such an event last occurred on 22 September 373,173 BC and will next occur on 26 July 69,163, and again on 29 March 224,508. The simultaneous occurrence of a solar eclipse and a transit of Venus is currently possible, but very rare. The next solar eclipse occurring during a transit of Venus will be on 5 April 15,232. The last time a solar eclipse occurred during a transit of Venus was on 1 November 15,607 BC. It could be noticed that the day after the Venerean transit of 3 June 1769 there was a total solar eclipse,which was visible in Northern America, Europe and Northern Asia.

Read Full Post »

For the various rulers of the kingdoms within England prior to its formal unification, during the so-called Heptarchy, see Bretwalda. For British monarchs since the Union of England and Scotland, see List of British monarchs. For monarchs that have reigned over the various kingdoms and other states that have existed in the British Isles throughout recorded history, see List of monarchs in the British Isles.

This list of English monarchs begins with Offa of Mercia, who was dominant in the late eighth century, although his power did not extend to Northumbria and did not survive him. In the 9th century Wessex became dominant over the other English kingdoms under Egbert, who conquered Kent and Sussex from Mercia in 825. Alfred the Great and his son Edward the Elder used the title “King of the Anglo-Saxons”. After Athelstan conquered Northumbria in 927, he adopted the title Rex Anglorum. Starting with Henry II in 1154, the title became Rex Angliae (King of England).

The Principality of Wales was incorporated into the Kingdom of England under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284, and in 1301 Edward I invested his eldest son, the future Edward II, as Prince of Wales. Since that time, with the exception of Edward III, the eldest sons of all English monarchs have borne this title. After the death of Elizabeth I without issue, in 1603, the crowns of England and Scotland were joined in personal union under James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England. By royal proclamation James titled himself “King of Great Britain”, but no such kingdom was created until 1707, when England underwent legislative union with Scotland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain, during the reign of Queen Anne.

House of Mercia

According to some sources the first ruler to assume the title Rex Anglorum is said to have been Offa in 774, who had been King of Mercia since 757, but this claim is based on charters apparently forged in the 10th century. However, on some of his coins Offa describes himself as Of Rx A, believed to stand for Offa Rex Anglorum. This probably had a different meaning at the time from what it acquired later, i.e. king of the Angles, and not necessarily the Saxons. Several earlier kings are called rex anglorum or some variant in surviving sources: Aldfrith of Northumbria by Aldhelm; Æthelred of Mercia in Felix’s Vita sancti Guthlaci (Life of Saint Guthlac); and Æthelbald of Mercia by Saint Boniface.[5] Regardless, Mercia’s dominance did not survive Offa’s death, and he has been considered by historians as being driven for personal power rather than nationhood.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
774 – 796
Offa c. 736
Son of Thingfrith
five children
29 July 796
Aged about 60

After the death of Offa, his son and heir, Ecgfrith, came to the throne. He died within four months of his father, and as Offa had killed his leading dynastic rivals in order to ensure that his son succeeded, the next king of Mercia was only distantly related to Offa, and power passed to the House of Wessex.

House of Wessex

The continuous list traditionally starts with Egbert, King of Wessex from 802, who established Wessex as the dominant power in southern England. Alfred the Great and his son Edward the Elder used the title “king of the Anglo-Saxons.” After Æthelstan conquered Northumbria in 927, he adopted the title rex Anglorum (King of the English).

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
802 – 839
Egbert Son of Ealhmund of Kent Unknown
one son
839 – 858
Æthelwulf Son of Egbert Osburh
six children
Judith of Flanders
1 October 856
no children
858 – 860
Aethelbald.jpg c. 834
Son of Æthelwulf and Osburh
Judith of Flanders
no children
20 December 860
Aged 26 or 27
21 December
860 – 865
c. 835
Son of Æthelwulf and Osburh
no children
Aged about 30
865 – 871
Coin of Æthelred c. 837
Son of Æthelwulf and Osburh
three children
23 April 871
Aged about 34
Alfred the Great
24 April
871 – 899
Statue of Alfred the Great in Wantage c. 849
Son of Æthelwulf and Osburh
Ealhswith Winchester
six children
26 October 899
Aged about 50
Edward the Elder
27 October
899 – 924
Edward the Elder c. 871–877
Son of Alfred the Great and Ealhswith
(1) Ecgwynn
two children
(2) Aelffaed
eight children
(3) Eadgifu of Kent
three children
17 July 924
Farndon, Cheshire
Aged about 50
c. 90
Son of Edward the Elder and Ælfflæd
No children
3 August 924
Aged about 23
Buried at Winchester
924 /
925 – 939
Rex Anglorum from 927
King Athelstan from All Souls College Chapel 895
Son of Edward the Elder and Ecgwynn
Unmarrie 27 October 939
Aged about 4
Edmund the Magnificent
28 October
939 – 946
Edmund I.jpg c. 921
Son of Edward the Elder and Eadgifu of Kent
(1) Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury
two children
(2) Æthelflæd of Damerham
no children
26 May 946
Aged about 25
27 May
946 – 955
Imaginary line engraving of Edred made by un unknown engraver after an unknown artist c. 923
Son of Edward the Elder and Eadgifu of Kent
Unmarried 23 November 955
Aged about 3
24 November
955 – 959
Line engraving of Edwy made by an unknown engraver after an unknown artist c. 940
Son of Edmund the Magnificent and Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury
Ælfgifu 1 October 959
Aged about 19
Edgar the Peaceful
2 October
959 – 975
King Edgar of England c. 943
Son of Edmund the Magnificent and Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury
(1) Æthelflæd
1 son
(2) Ælfthryth
2 sons
8 July 975
Aged about 3
Edward the Martyr
9 July
975 – 978
St. Edward the Martyr c. 962
Son of Edgar the Peaceful and Æthelflæd
Unmarried 18 March 978
Corfe Castle
Aged about 16
Æthelred the Unready
(Æþelræd Unræd)
19 March
978 – 1013 (first reign)
Image of Æthelred II with an oversize sword from the illuminated manuscript "The Chronicle of Abingdon" c. 968
Son of Edgar the Peaceful and Ælfthryth
(1) Ælfgifu of York
nine children
(2) Emma of Normandy
three children
23 April 1016
Aged about 48

House of Denmark

England came under the rule of Danish kings during and following the reign of Æthelred the Unready.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Sweyn Forkbeard
(Svend Tveskæg)
25 Decembe
1013 – 101
Sweyn Forkbeard, from an architectural element in the Swansea Guildhall, Swansea, Wales c. 960
Son of Harald Bluetooth and Gyrid Olafsdottir
(1) Gunhild of Wenden
c. 990
seven children
(2) Sigrid the Haughty
c. 1000
1 daughter
3 February 1014
Aged about 54

House of Wessex (restored, first time)

Following the death of Sweyn Forkbeard, Æthelred the Unready returned from exile and was again proclaimed king on 3 February 1014. His son succeeded him after being chosen king by the citizens of London and a part of the Witan, despite ongoing Danish efforts in wresting the crown from the West Saxons.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Æthelred the Unready
(Æþelræd Unræd)
3 February
1014 – 1016 (second reign
Image of Æthelred II with an oversize sword from the illuminated manuscript "The Chronicle of Abingdon" c. 968
Son of Edgar the Peaceful and Ælfthryth
(1) Aelgifu
nine children
(2) Emma of Normandy
three childre
23 April 1016
Aged about 48
Edmund Ironside
24 April –
30 November 101
Edmund Ironside c. 993
Son of Æthelred the Unready and Ælfgifu of York
Edith of East Anglia
two children
30 November 1016
Aged about 23

House of Denmark (restored)

Following the decisive Battle of Ashingdon on 18 October 1016, King Edmund signed a treaty with Canute in which all of England except for Wessex would be controlled by Canute. Upon Edmund’s death on 30 November, Canute ruled the whole kingdom as its sole king.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
30 November 1016 –
12 November 1035
Cnut.jpg c. 995
Son of Sweyn Forkbeard and Gunhilda of Polan
(1) Aelfgifu of Northampton
two children
(2) Emma of Normandy
two children
12 November 1035
Aged about 40
Harold Harefoot
13 November 1035 –
17 March 104
HAROLD I HAREFOOT.jpg c. 1016/7
Son of Cnut and Ælfgifu of Northampton
1 son?
17 March 1040
Aged about 23 or 24
17 March 1040 –
8 June 1042
Hardeknut.jpg 1018
Son of Cnut and Emma of Normandy
Unmarried 8 June 1042
Aged about 24

House of Wessex (restored, second time)

After Harthacanute, there was a brief Saxon Restoration between 1042 and 1066. After the Battle of Hastings, a decisive point in British history, William I of Normandy became king of England.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Children Death
Edward the Confessor
9 June
1042 – 1066
Edward Confessor.jpg c. 1003
Islip, Oxfordshire
Son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy
Edith of Wessex
23 January 1045
None 5 January 1066
Westminster Palace
Aged about 60
Harold Godwinson
(Harold Godwinesson)
6 January – 14 October 1066
Harold2.jpg c. 1020
Son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex and Gytha Thorkelsdóttir
Edith Swannesha Godwine, Edmund, Magnus, Gunhild, Gytha 14 October 1066
Aged about 46
(Died in battle)
c. 1064
Harold, Ulf
Edgar the Ætheling
(Eadgar Æþeling)
15 October – 17 December 1066
Proclaimed, but never crowned
Edgar the Ætheling.jpg c. 1053
Son of Edward the Exile and Agatha
Unmarried None c. 1125
Aged about 72

House of Normandy

Main article: Normans

In 1066 the Duke of Normandy, William I, a vassal to the King of France and cousin once-removed of Edward the Confessor, invaded and conquered England in the Norman Conquest of England, and made permanent the recent removal of the capital from Winchester to London. Following the death of King Harold II in the decisive Battle of Hastings on 14 October, the Anglo-Saxon witan elected Edgar the Ætheling king in Harold’s place, but Edgar was unable to resist the invaders and was never crowned. William was crowned King of England on Christmas Day 1066, and is today known as William the Conqueror, William the Bastard or William I.

It was only from the reign of William and his descendents that monarchs took regnal numbers in the French fashion, though the earlier custom of distinguishing monarchs by nicknames did not die out by consequence.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
William I
William the Bastard
William the Conqueror
(Guillaume le Bâtard)
(Guillaume le Conquérant)

25 December
William the Conqueror depicted at the Battle of Hastings, on the Bayeux Tapestry c.1028
Falaise Castle
son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy, and Herleva
Matilda of Flanders
Chapel Notre Dame of the castle in Eu, Normandy
ten children
9 September 1087
aged about 59 after wounding himself on the saddle when his horse stumbled. Buried at Saint Etienne Abbey (Abbaye aux Hommes) of Caen
Supposedly named heir by Edward the Confessor in 1052
(de facto right of conquest)
William II
William Rufus
(Guillaume le Roux)

26 September
William Rufus depicted in the Stowe Manuscript c.1060
son of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders
unmarried 2 August 1100
New Forest
aged about 40 when shot by an arrow, events still unclear.
son of William I
Henry I
Henry Beauclerc
(Henri Beauclerc)

5 August
Henry I September 1068
son of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders
(1) Edith otherwise Matilda of Scotland
Westminster Abbey
11 November 1100
four children
(2) Adeliza of Louvain
Windsor Castle
29 January 1121
no children
1 December 1135
Castle of Lyons-la-Forêt (Saint-Denis-en-Lyons)
aged 67 apparently from eating a surfeit of lampreys. Buried at Reading Abbey
son of William I;
(seizure of the crown)
Stephen of Blois
(Étienne de Blois)

22 December
Stephen c.1096
son of Stephen, Count of Blois, and Adela of Normandy
Matilda of Boulogne
five children
25 October 1154
Dover Castle
aged about 58 from dysentery
grandson of William I

Disputed claimants

Empress Matilda was declared heir presumptive by her father, Henry I, after the death of her brother on the White Ship,and acknowledged as such by the barons. However, upon Henry I’s death, the throne was seized by Matilda’s cousin, Stephen of Blois. The Anarchy followed, with Matilda’s being a de facto ruler for a few months in 1141, but she was never crowned and is rarely listed as a monarch of England.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Empress Matilda
(Mathilde l’emperesse)

7 April 1141–1 November 1141
Title disputed
Matilda 7 February 1102
Sutton Courtenay
daughter of Henry I and Edith of Scotland
(1) Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor
6 January 1114
no children
(2) Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou
Le Mans Cathedral
22 May 1128
three children
10 September 1167
Notre Dame du Pré in Rouen
aged 65
daughter of Henry I
(seizure of the crown)

Prince Eustace (c. 1130 – 17 August 1153) was appointed co-king of England by his father, King Stephen, on 6 April 1152, in order to guarantee his succession to the throne (as was the custom in France, but not in England). However, the Church would not agree to this, and Eustace was not crowned. Eustace died the next year aged 22, during his father’s lifetime, and so never became king in his own right.

House of Plantagenet

Main article: House of Plantagenet

Stephen came to an agreement with Matilda in November 1153 with the signing of the Treaty of Wallingford, where Stephen recognised Henry, son of Matilda, as the heir-apparent to the throne in lieu of his own son.

Rather than ruling among the Normans, the Plantagenets ruled from Aquitaine — lands which were acquired through Henry II’s marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, but did not regard England as their primary home until after most of their French possessions were lost by King John. This long-lived dynasty is usually divided into three houses: the Angevins, the House of Lancaster and the House of York.

The Plantagenets formulated England’s royal coat of arms, which usually showed other kingdoms held or claimed by them or their successors, although without representation of Ireland for quite some time.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry II
Henry Curtmantle
(Henri Court-manteau)

19 December
Henry II 5 March 1133
Le Mans
son of Geoffrey V of Anjou and Matilda
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Bordeaux Cathedral
18 May 1152
eight children
6 July 1189
aged 56. Buried at Fontevraud Abbey
grandson of Henry I
(Treaty of Wallingford)
Henry the Young King
(Henri le Jeune Roy)
(co-ruler with his father)
14 June
Henry 28 February 1155son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine Margaret of France
Winchester Cathedral
27 August 1172
one child
11 June 1183
Martel, Limoges
aged 28. Buried at Rouen Cathedral (Notre-Dame)
son of Henry II
(coronation as junior king)
Richard I
Richard the Lionheart
(Richard Cœur de Lion)

3 September
Richard the Lionheart, an illustration from a 12th century codex 8 September 1157
Beaumont Palace
son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine
Berengaria of Navarre
12 May 1191
no children
6 April 1199
aged 41 from an arrow wound in the shoulder that became infected. Buried: Heart at Rouen Cathedral. Body at Fontevraud Abbey
son of Henry II
(Jean sans Terre)

27 May
King John 24 December 1166
Beaumont Palace
son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine
(1) Isabel of Gloucester
Marlborough Castle
29 August 1189
no children(2) Isabella of Angoulême
Bordeaux Cathedral
24 August 1200
five children
19 October 1216
aged 49, probably from dysentery brought on by eating peaches and drinking wine. Buried at Worcester Cathedral
brother of Richard I

Disputed claimant

Louis VIII of France briefly ruled about half of England from 1216 to 1217 at the conclusion of the First Barons’ War against King John. On marching into London he was openly received by the rebel barons and citizens of London and proclaimed (though not crowned) king at St Paul’s cathedral. Many nobles, including Alexander II of Scotland for his English possessions, gathered to give homage to him. However in signing the Treaty of Lambeth in 1217 Louis conceded that he had never been the legitimate king of England.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
The Lion
22 September 1217
Title disputed
Louis8lelion.jpg 5 September 1187
son of Philip II of France, and Isabella of Hainault
Blanche of Castile
23 May 1200
13 children
8 November 1226
aged 39
Right of conquest

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry III
Henry of Winchester
28 October
Henry III 1 October 1207
Winchester Castle
son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême
Eleanor of Provence
Canterbury Cathedral
14 January 1236
nine children
16 November 1272
Westminster Palace
aged 65
son of King John
Edward I
20 November
Eduard1 korunovace.jpg 17 June 1239
Westminster Palace
son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence
(1) Eleanor of Castile
Abbey of Santa Maria la Real de Huelgas
18 October 1254
17 children(2) Margaret of France
10 September 1299
three children
7 July 1307
Burgh by Sands
aged 68
son of Henry III
Edward II
Edward of Caernarfon
7 July 1307 –
25 January 1327
Modern depiction of Edward II 25 April 1284
Caernarfon Castle
son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile
Isabella of France
Boulogne Cathedral
25 January 1308
five children
21 September 1327
Berkeley Castle
aged 43 (murdered, probably ‘with a hoote brooche putte thro the secret place posterialle’ according to a Confessor of one of the Jailers)
son of Edward I
Edward III
25 January
Edward III 13 November 1312
Windsor Castle
son of Edward II and Isabella of France
Philippa of Hainault
York Minster
24 January 1328
14 children
21 June 1377
Sheen Palace
aged 64
son of Edward II
Richard II
21 June 1377 –
29 September 1399
Richard II, the so-called 'Westminster Portrait', painted by an unknown artist working in the International Gothic style, 1390s 6 January 1367
son of Edward, the Black Prince and Joan of Kent
(1) Anne of Bohemia
14 January 1382
no children(2) Isabella of Valois
4 November 1396
no children
14 February 1400
Pontefract Castle
aged 33 probably from starvation
grandson of Edward III

House of Lancaster

Main article: House of Lancaster

This house descended from Edward III’s third surviving son, John of Gaunt. Henry IV seized power from Richard II (and also displaced the next in line to the throne, Edmund Mortimer, a descendant of Edward III’s second son, Lionel of Antwerp).

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry IV
30 September
Henry IV 3 April 1366/7
Bolingbroke Castle
son of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster
(1) Mary de Bohun
Arundel Castle
27 July 1380
seven children(2) Joanna of Navarre
Winchester Cathedral
7 February 1403
no children
20 March 1413
Westminster Abbey
aged 45 or 46
grandson and heir male of Edward III
(usurpation/agnatic primogeniture)
Henry V
20 March
Henry V 16 September 1386 or
9 August 1387
Monmouth Castle
son of Henry IV and Mary de Bohun
Catherine of Valois
Troyes Cathedral
2 June 1420
one son
31 August 1422
Château de Vincennes
aged 35
son of Henry IV
(agnatic primogeniture)
Henry VI
(first reign)
31 August 1422 – 4 March 1461
Henry VI 6 December 1421
Windsor Castle
son of Henry V and Catherine of Valois
Margaret of Anjou
Titchfield Abbey
22 April 1445
1 son
21 May 1471
Tower of London
aged 49
son of Henry V
(agnatic primogeniture)

House of York

Main article: House of York

The House of York inherited its name from the fourth surviving son of Edward III, Edmund, 1st Duke of York, but claimed the right to the throne through Edward III’s second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp.

The Wars of the Roses (1455–1485) saw the throne pass back and forth between the rival houses of Lancaster and York.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Edward IV
(first reign)
4 March 1461 – 2 October 1470
Edward IV 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville
Elizabeth Woodville
Grafton Regis
1 May 1464
ten children
9 April 1483
Westminster Palace
aged 40 (probably died of a stroke after catching a chill during a fishing trip)
great-great-grandson and heir general of Edward III
(seizure of the crown/cognatic primogeniture)

House of Lancaster (restored)

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry VI
(second reign)
30 October 1470 – 11 April 1471
Henry VI 6 December 1421
Windsor Castle
son of Henry V and Catherine of Valois
Margaret of Anjou
Titchfield Abbey
22 April 1445
1 son
21 May 1471
Tower of London
aged 49 (murdered) by being stabbed in the head.
son of Henry V
(seizure of the crown)

House of York (restored)

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Edward IV
(second reign)
11 April 1471 – 9 April 1483
Edward IV 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville
Elizabeth Woodville
Grafton Regis
1 May 1464
ten children
9 April 1483
Westminster Palace
aged 40 (probably died of a stroke after catching a chill during a fishing trip)
great-great-grandson and heir general of Edward III
(seizure of the crown/cognatic primogeniture)
Edward V
9 April – 25 June 1483
Edward V 2 November 1470
son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville
unmarried c. 1483
aged about 12 (reportedly smothered)
son of Edward IV
(cognatic primogeniture)
Richard III
26 June
Richard III 2 October 1452
Fotheringhay Castle
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville
Anne Neville
Westminster Abbey
12 July 1472
1 son
22 August 1485
Bosworth Field
aged 32 (killed in battle)
great-great-grandson of Edward III
(Titulus Regius)

House of Tudor

Main article: Tudor dynasty

The Tudors descended matrilineally from John Beaufort, one of the illegitimate children of John of Gaunt (third surviving son of Edward III), by Gaunt’s long-term mistress Katherine Swynford. Those descended from English monarchs only through an illegitimate child would normally have no claim on the throne, but the situation was complicated when Gaunt and Swynford eventually married in 1396 (25 years after John Beaufort’s birth). In view of the marriage, the church retroactively declared the Beauforts legitimate via a papal bull the same year (also enshrined in an Act of Parliament in 1397). A subsequent proclamation by John of Gaunt’s legitimate son, King Henry IV, also recognized the Beauforts’ legitimacy, but declared them ineligible ever to inherit the throne. Nevertheless, the Beauforts remained closely allied with Gaunt’s other descendants, the Royal House of Lancaster.

John Beaufort’s granddaughter Lady Margaret Beaufort was married to Edmund Tudor. Tudor was the son of Welsh courtier Owain Tewdr (anglicised to “Owen Tudor”) and Catherine of Valois, the widowed queen consort of the Lancastrian King Henry V. Edmund Tudor and his siblings were either illegitimate, or the product of a secret marriage, and owed their fortunes to the goodwill of their legitimate half-brother King Henry VI. When the House of Lancaster fell from power, the Tudors followed. By the late 15th century, the Tudors were the last hope for the Lancaster supporters. Edmund Tudor’s son became king as Henry VII after defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, ending the Wars of the Roses.

With Henry VIII‘s break from the Roman Catholic Church, the monarch became the Supreme Head of the Church of England and of the Church of Ireland. Elizabeth I’s title became the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry VII
22 August
Henry VII, by Michel Sittow, 1505 28 January 1457
Pembroke Castle
son of Edmund Tudor and Lady Margaret Beaufort
Elizabeth of York
Westminster Abbey
18 January 1486
eight children
21 April 1509
Richmond Palace
aged 52
great-great-great-grandson of Edward III
(right of conquest)
Henry VIII
21 April
Henry VIII, by Hans Holbein, c.1536 28 June 1491
Greenwich Palace
son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York
Catherine of Aragon
11 June 1509
one daughter
28 January 1547
Whitehall Palace
aged 55
son of Henry VII
Anne Boleyn
Westminster Palace
25 January 1533
one daughter
Jane Seymour
Whitehall Palace
30 May 1536
one son
Anne of Cleves
Greenwich Palace
6 January 1540
Catherine Howard
Hampton Court Palace
28 July 1540
Catherine Parr
Hampton Court Palace
12 July 1543
Edward VI
28 January
Edward VI, by Hans Eworth 12 October 1537
Hampton Court Palace
son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour
unmarried 6 July 1553
Greenwich Palace
aged 15
son of Henry VIII

Disputed claimant

Edward VI named Lady Jane Grey as his heir presumptive. Four days after his death on 6 July 1553, Jane was proclaimed queen. Nine days after the proclamation, on 19 July, the Privy Council switched allegiance and proclaimed Edward VI’s Catholic half-sister Mary. Jane was executed in 1554, aged 16. Many historians do not consider her to have been a legitimate monarch.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim

10–19 July 1553
Title disputed

Streathamladyjayne.jpg October 1537
Bradgate Park
daughter of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and Lady Frances Brandon
Lord Guildford Dudley
The Strand
21 May 1553
no children
12 February 1554
Tower of London
aged 16 (beheaded)
great-granddaughter of Henry VII
(Devise for the succession)

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Mary I
19 July
Mary I, by Antonius Mor, 1554 18 February 1516
Greenwich Palace
daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon
Philip II of Spain
Winchester Cathedral
25 July 1554
no children
17 November 1558
St. James’s Palace
aged 42
daughter of Henry VIII
(Third Succession Act)
25 July 1554 –
17 November 1558
(jure uxoris)
King Philip of England 21 May 1527
Valladolid, Spain
son of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and Isabella of Portugal
(2) Mary I of England
Winchester Cathedral
25 July 1554
no children
three other marriages
and seven children
13 September 1598
El Escorial, Spain
aged 71
husband of Mary I
(Act for the Marriage of Queen Mary to Philip of Spain)
Coat of arms, 1554–1558

Under the terms of the marriage treaty between Philip I of Naples (Philip II of Spain from 15 January 1556) and Queen Mary I, Philip was to enjoy Mary’s titles and honours for as long as their marriage should last. All official documents, including Acts of Parliament, were to be dated with both their names, and Parliament was to be called under the joint authority of the couple. An Act of Parliament gave him the title of king and stated that he “shall aid her Highness … in the happy administration of her Grace’s realms and dominions” (although elsewhere the Act stated that Mary was to be “sole queen”). Nonetheless, Philip was to co-reign with his wife. As the new King of England could not read English, it was ordered that a note of all matters of state should be made in Latin or Spanish. Coins were minted showing the heads of both Mary and Philip, and the coat of arms of England (right) was impaled with Philip’s to denote their joint reign. Acts which made it high treason to deny Philip’s royal authority were passed in England and Ireland. In 1555, Pope Paul IV issued a papal bull recognising Philip and Mary as rightful King and Queen of Ireland.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Elizabeth I
17 November
Elizabeth I, by Darnley 7 September 1533
Greenwich Palace
daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn
unmarried 24 March 1603
Richmond Palace
aged 69
daughter of Henry VIII
(Third Succession Act)

House of Stuart

Main article: House of Stuart

Following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603 without issue, the Scottish king, James VI, succeeded to the English throne as James I in the Union of the Crowns. James was descended from the Tudors through his great-grandmother, Margaret Tudor, the eldest daughter of Henry VII. In 1604 he adopted the title King of Great Britain. However the two parliaments remained separate.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
James I
24 March
James I, by Paulus van Somer 19 June 1566
Edinburgh Castle
son of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, and Mary I, Queen of Scots
Anne of Denmark
23 November 1589
7 Children
27 March 1625
Theobalds House
Aged 58
great-great-grandson and heir general of Henry VII
Charles I
27 March
Charles I, by Anthony van Dyck 19 November 1600
Dunfermline Palace
son of James I and Anne of Denmark
Henrietta Maria of France
St Augustine’s Abbey
13 June 1625
nine children
30 January 1649
Whitehall Palace
aged 48 (beheaded)
son of James I (cognatic primogeniture)


There was no reigning monarch between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. Instead, from 1653 the following individuals held power as Lords Protector, during the period known as the Protectorate, when the monarchy was overthrown.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Oliver Cromwell
Old Ironsides
16 December
Oliver Cromwell 25 April 1599
son of Robert Cromwell and Elizabeth Steward
Elizabeth Bourchier
in St Giles
22 August 1620
nine children
3 September 1658
aged 59
Richard Cromwell
Tumbledown Dick
3 September 1658
– 7 May 1659
Richard Cromwell, c.1650 4 October 1626
son of Oliver Cromwell and Elizabeth Bourchier
Dorothy Maijor
May 1649
nine children
12 July 1712
aged 85

House of Stuart (restored)

Although the monarchy was restored in 1660, no stable settlement proved possible until the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when Parliament finally asserted the right to choose whomsoever it pleased as monarch.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Charles II
Recognized by Royalists in 1649
Charles II (1670s).jpg 29 May 1630
St. James’s Palace
son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria of France
Catherine of Braganza
21 May 1662
no children
6 February 1685
Whitehall Palace
aged 54
son of Charles I (cognatic primogeniture; English Restoration)
James II
6 February 1685 –
23 December 1688 (deposed)
James II by John Riley.png 14 October 1633
St. James’s Palace
son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria of France
(1) Anne Hyde
The Strand
3 September 1660
eight children(2) Mary of Modena
21 November 1673
seven children
16 September 1701
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
aged 67
son of Charles I (cognatic primogeniture)
Mary II
13 February
Queen Mary II.jpg 30 April 1662
St. James’s Palace
daughter of James II and Anne Hyde
St. James’s Palace
4 November 1677
no children
28 December 1694
Kensington Palace
aged 32
grandchildren of Charles I (offered the crown by Parliament)
William III
William of Orange
13 February
Portrait of William III, (1650-1702).jpg 4 November 1650
The Hague
son of William II, Prince of Orange, and Mary, Princess Royal
8 March 1702
Kensington Palace
aged 51 after breaking his collarbone from falling off his horse
8 March
1702–1 May 1707
Queen of Great Britain and Ireland
1 May 1707–1 August 1714
Anne1705.jpg 6 February 1665
St. James’s Palace
daughter of James II and Anne Hyde
George of Denmark
St. James’s Palace
28 July 1683
5 children
1 August 1714
Kensington Palace
aged 49
daughter of James II (cognatic primogeniture; Bill of Rights 1689)

Timeline of English Monarchs

Anne of Great Britain Mary II of England William III of England James II of England Charles II of England Richard Cromwell Oliver Cromwell Charles I of England James I of England Elizabeth I of England Philip II of Spain Mary I of England Lady Jane Grey Edward VI of England Henry VIII of England Henry VII of England Richard III of England Edward V of England Edward IV of England Henry VI of England Edward IV of England Henry VI of England Henry V of England Henry IV of England Richard II of England Edward III of England Edward II of England Edward I of England Henry III of England John of England Richard I of England Henry the Young King Henry II of England Empress Matilda Stephen of England Henry I of England William II of England William I of England Edgar the Ætheling Harold Godwinson Saint Edward the Confessor Harthacnut Harold Harefoot Cnut the Great Edmund Ironside Æthelred the Unready Sweyn Forkbeard Æthelred the Unready Saint Edward the Martyr Edgar the Peaceable Eadwig Eadred Edmund the Magnificent Athelstan the Glorious Ælfweard Edward the Elder Alfred the Great Æthelred of Wessex Æthelberht of Wessex Æthelbald of Wessex Æthelwulf of Wessex Egbert of Wessex Offa of Mercia Commonwealth of England House of Stuart Tudor Dynasty House of York House of Lancaster House of Plantagenet Normans House of Denmark House of Wessex Mercia

Acts of Union

The Acts of Union 1707 were a pair of Parliamentary Acts passed during 1706 and 1707 by the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland to put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706, following negotiation between commissioners representing the parliaments of the two countries. The Acts joined the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland (previously separate states, with separate legislatures but with the same monarch) into a single Kingdom of Great Britain.[71]

The two countries had shared a monarch for about 100 years (since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne from his first cousin twice removed, Queen Elizabeth I). Although described as a Union of Crowns, until 1707 there were in fact two separate Crowns resting on the same head. There had been three attempts in 1606, 1667, and 1689 to unite the two countries by Acts of Parliament, but it was not until the early eighteenth century that the idea had the will of both political establishments behind them, albeit for rather different reasons.


The standard title for all monarchs from Alfred the Great until the time of King John was Rex Anglorum (King of the English). In addition, many of the pre-Norman kings assumed extra titles, as follows:

  • Alfred the Great: Rex Angulsaxonum (King of the Anglosaxons) and Rex Anglorum et Saxonum (King of the Angles and Saxons)
  • Athelstan: Rex Anglorum per omnipatrantis dexteram totius Bryttaniæ regni solio sublimatus
  • Edmund the Magnificent: Rex Britanniae and Rex Anglorum caeterarumque gentium gobernator et rector
  • Edred: Regis qui regimina regnorum Angulsaxna, Norþhymbra, Paganorum, Brettonumque
  • Edwy the Fair: Rex nutu Dei Angulsæxna et Northanhumbrorum imperator paganorum gubernator Breotonumque propugnator
  • Edgar the Peaceable: Totius Albionis finitimorumque regum basileus
  • Canute: Rex Anglorum totiusque Brittannice orbis gubernator et rector and Brytannie totius Anglorum monarchus

In the Norman period Rex Anglorum remained standard, with occasional use of Rex Anglie (“King of England”). Matilda styled herself Domina Anglorum (“Lady of the English”).

From the time of King John onwards all other titles were eschewed in favour of Rex Anglie, or Regina Anglie (“Queen of England”) if female.

In 1604 James I, who had inherited the English throne the previous year, adopted the title (now usually rendered in English rather than Latin) King of Great Britain. The English and Scottish parliaments, however, did not recognise this title until the Acts of Union of 1707 under Queen Anne (who was of course Queen of Great Britain rather than king).

The British monarchy is the direct successor to those of England, Scotland and Ireland. For those, see List of English monarchs, List of Scottish monarchs and List of Irish monarchs.

The Royal Arms of the United Kingdom since the accession of Queen Victoria, (1837), featuring the arms of England in the first and fourth quarters, Scotland in the second, and Ireland in the third. In Scotland a separate version is used, (shown right), whereby the Arms of Scotland take precedence

There have been 12 monarchs of Great Britain and the United Kingdom (see the Monarchy of the United Kingdom). The United Kingdom of Great Britain was formed on 1 May 1707 with the merger of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which had been in personal union under the House of Stuart since 24 March 1603. On 1 January 1801, Great Britain merged with the Kingdom of Ireland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. After most of Ireland left the union on 6 December 1922, its name was amended on 12 April 1927 to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

House of Stuart

Main article: House of Stuart

Queen Anne had been queen of England, Scotland and Ireland since 8 March 1702, and so became Queen of Great Britain upon the Union of England and Scotland.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
1 May 1707–1 August 1714
Anne1705.jpg 6 February 1665
St. James’s Palace
daughter of James II and VII and Anne Hyde
George of Denmark
St. James’s Palace
28 July 1683
17 children
1 August 1714
Kensington Palace
aged 49
daughter of James II and VII (cognatic primogeniture; Bill of Rights 1689); Queen of England and Scotland upon the Union; (Treaty of Union and Acts of Union 1707)

House of Hanover

Main article: House of Hanover

The Hanoverian succession came about as a result of the Act of Settlement 1701, passed by the Parliament of England. In return for access to the English plantations in North America, the Hanoverian succession and the Union were ratified by the Parliament of Scotland in 1707.

After the death of Anne with no living children, George I, the son of Sophia of Hanover, granddaughter of James VI of Scotland and I of England through his daughter Elizabeth of Bohemia, was the closest Protestant heir to the throne.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Succession right References
George I
1 August 1714 –
11 June 1727
King George I by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt.jpg 28 May 1660
son of Ernest Augustus, Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Sophia of Hanover
Sophia Dorothea of Brunswick-Lueneburg-Celle
21 November 1682
2 children
11 June 1727
aged 67
son of Sophia of Hanover, granddaughter of James I & VI; (Act of Settlement 1701 and Acts of Union 1707)
George II
11 June 1727 –
25 October 1760
George II by Thomas Hudson.jpg 30 October 1683
son of George I and Sophia Dorothea of Brunswick-Lueneburg-Celle
Caroline of Ansbach
22 August 1705
8 children
25 October 1760
Kensington Palace
aged 76
son of George I
George III
25 October 1760 –
29 January 1820
George III in Coronation edit.jpg 4 June 1738
Norfolk House
son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
St James’s Palace
8 September 1761
15 children
29 January 1820
Windsor Castle
aged 81
grandson of George II
George IV
29 January 1820 –
26 June 1830
(Prince Regent since 1811)
George IV van het Verenigd Koninkrijk.jpg 12 August 1762
St James’s Palace
son of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
(1) Maria Anne Fitzherbert
Park Lane
15 September 1785
(2) Caroline of Brunswick
St James’s Palace
8 April 1795
1 daughter
26 June 1830
aged 67
first son of George III
William IV
26 June 1830 –
20 June 1837
William IV.jpg 21 August 1765
Buckingham Palace
son of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen
Kew Palace
13 July 1818
2 children
20 June 1837
Windsor Castle
aged 71
third son of George III
20 June 1837 –
22 January 1901
Melville - Queen Victoria.jpg 24 May 1819
Kensington Palace
daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
St James’s Palace
10 February 1840
9 children
22 January 1901
Osborne House
aged 81
granddaughter of George III (by his fourth son)

House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Although he was the son and heir of Victoria, Edward VII inherited his father’s names and is therefore counted as inaugurating a new royal house.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Succession right References
Edward VII
22 January 1901 –
6 May 1910
Edward VII in coronation robes.jpg 9 November 1841
Buckingham Palace
son of Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Alexandra of Denmark
St George’s Chapel
10 March 1863
6 children
6 May 1910
Buckingham Palace
aged 68
son of Queen Victoria

House of Windsor

Main article: House of Windsor

The house name Windsor was adopted in 1917, during World War I. It was changed from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha because of wartime anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Succession right References
George V
6 May 1910 –
20 January 1936
George V of the united Kingdom.jpg 3 June 1865
Marlborough House
son of Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark
Mary of Teck
St James’s Palace
6 July 1893
6 children
20 January 1936
Sandringham House
aged 70
son of Edward VII
Edward VIII
20 January –
11 December 1936 (abdicated)
A030596.jpg 23 June 1894
White Lodge
son of George V and Mary of Teck
Wallis Warfield Simpson
Château de Candé
3 June 1937
no children
28 May 1972
aged 77
son of George V
George VI
11 December 1936 –
2 June 1952
King George VI of England, formal photo portrait, circa 1940-1946.jpg 14 December 1895
Sandringham House
son of George V and Mary of Teck
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Westminster Abbey
26 April 1923
2 children
2 June 1952
Sandringham House
aged 56
son of George V
Elizabeth II
2 June
1952 – present
Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace, 07 Mar 2006 crop.jpeg 21 April 1926
daughter of George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Philip of Greece and Denmark
Westminster Abbey
20 November 1947
4 children
Incumbent daughter of George VI

Timeline of British Monarchs

Elizabeth II George VI of the United Kingdom Edward VIII of the United Kingdom George V of the United Kingdom Edward VII of the United Kingdom Victoria of the United Kingdom William IV of the United Kingdom George IV of the United Kingdom George III of the United Kingdom George II of Great Britain George I of Great Britain Anne of Great Britain House of Windsor House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha House of Hanover House of Stuart

Read Full Post »