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The Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Posted: May 29, 2012
by: Robert Jackson

HM Queen Elizabeth celebrates sixty glorious years on the throne of England next month, and we are all so very excited to be a part of this historic and momentous event.


For many of us, we have known her for all of our lives. The young Princess Elizabeth was crowned Queen in Westminster Abbey on June 2nd 1953, one year before my birth. So she has always figured in my life - a "constant" in this ever changing, rapidly developing world that we live in. From my very earliest memories, I have always been fascinated by her enigmatic personality and faultless dedication to duty. We are all so very, very proud of her.

For those of us lucky enough to live in Great Britain, we can look forward to a host of celebrations planned to take place over the extended national holiday weekend of 2nd to 5th June. Details of all the events can be found at the official website of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Celebration.

So for my tribute to mark this remarkable occasion, I would like to share with you twenty amazing facts about Her Majesty that you may not be aware of. This will then be followed first by the original very famous recipe created by chef Rosemary Hume, for the Queen's coronation banquet in 1953 - Coronation Chicken. Then in case you would like a simpler and quicker recipe, that will be followed by "the cheat's version" by Felicity Cloake, food journalist of The Guardian newspaper.



1. Queen Victoria was the last and to date the only British Monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee.


The current Queen, who was aged 85 on Accession Day in 2012, is the oldest monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. Queen Victoria was 77 when she celebrated hers in 1897.

2.The Queen is the second longest serving monarch. Only five other kings and queens in British history have reigned for 50 years or more. They are:

Victoria (63 years)
George III (59 years)
Henry III (56 years)
Edward III (50 years)
James VI of Scotland (James I of England) (58 years)

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

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

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

5. Unusual live gifts given to The Queen on foreign tours include: two tortoises given to The Queen in the Seychelles in 1972; a seven-year-old bull elephant called "Jumbo" given to Her Majesty by the President of Cameroon in 1972 to mark The Queen's Silver Wedding, and two black beavers given to The Queen after a Royal visit to Canada.

6. In an average year, The Queen will host more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace.

7. Over the course of the reign, almost one and a half million people have attended garden parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland.

8. The Queen launched the British Monarchy's official website in 1997. In 2007 the official British Monarchy YouTube channel was unveiled, swiftly followed by a Royal Twitter site (2009), Flickr page (2010) and Facebook page (also 2010).

9. The Queen's real birthday is on 21st April, but it is celebrated officially in June.

10. The Queen has 30 godchildren.

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

12. As part of the main celebration for the Queen's Golden Jubilee in June 2002 the spectacular fireworks display which took place from the roof of Buckingham Palace required 2.5 tons of fireworks, with some rising as high as 800 ft into the night sky. The light and sound display also involved 50 searchlights on the Palace, and fountains of water over nine metres high and a sound track.


13. The Gold State Coach was used twice during the Golden Jubilee, making its first appearance since the Silver Jubilee in 1977. The first time was at "All the Queen's Horses" equestrian spectacular and the second in the procession to St Paul's Cathedral on Jubilee Day, 4th June.

14. The Empire State Building shone purple and gold on the evening of Tuesday, 4 June 2002 in honour of The Queen's Golden Jubilee.

15. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have sent approximately 45,000 Christmas cards during The Queen’s reign.

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

17. The Queen has launched 21 ships during her reign.

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

19. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have been married for 64 years. They were married on 20th November, 1947 in Westminster Abbey. The Queen's wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell and was woven at Winterthur Silks Limited in Dunfermline, Scotland, using silk that had come from Chinese silkworms at Lullingstone Castle.


20. The Queen was born at 17 Bruton St, London W1 on the 21st April, 1926, was christened on the 29th May, 1926 in the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace and was confirmed on the 28th March, 1942 in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The original famous Coronation Chicken recipe was created by Rosemary Hume, founder of Le Cordon Bleu cookery school, for the Queen's coronation banquet in 1953. Originally called "Poulet Reine Elizabeth", the dish was designed to be a compromise between exotic spices and inexpensive ingredients. It is excellent eaten with a rice salad or served as a filling in sandwiches.

The original recipe by Rosemary Hume
Serves 8


2 medium chickens
1 carrot
Thyme, bay leaf, parsley and 4 peppercorns to flavour
1 dessertspoon curry powder
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp tomato purée
1 glass red wine
Juice of ½ lemon
450ml mayonnaise
1-2 tbsp apricot purée (made from soaked and boiled tried apricots)
2-3 tbsp whipped cream


Poach two chickens for 40 minutes in water with the carrot, a splash of wine, thyme, bay leaf, parsley and four peppercorns. Cool in the liquid then remove the meat from the bones.

To make the sauce, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and add two tablespoons of chopped onion. Cook gently for three minutes then add a dessertspoon of curry powder. Cook for a further two minutes. Add one teaspoon of tomato purée, a glass of red wine, ¾ wineglass of water, one bay leaf, and bring to the boil. Then add a pinch each of salt, sugar and pepper, the juice of ½ a lemon and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Strain and cool.

Slowly add the cooled sauce to 450ml mayonnaise, then stir in 1-2 tablespoons of apricot purée. Season again - the sauce must not be too sweet. Finish by adding 2-3 tablespoons of whipped cream. Add only enough sauce to coat the chicken lightly.


....or for those in a hurry....

The "cheat's version" by Felicity Cloake

Her previous attempts at coronation chicken have always involved Sunday's leftovers, so she's back on familiar ground using cold cooked chicken.

The dressing is simplicity itself:

2 tbsp "good spicy fruit chutney" (she uses mango, in keeping with the Anglo-Indian theme), mixed with 1 tbsp "good Madras curry powder" and equal parts Greek yoghurt and mayonnaise and tossed through the chicken, which is then left to marinate for a couple of hours. This is then finally garnished with toasted almonds and chopped coriander.

If you are planning a celebration to mark this very special occasion, you may want to check my suggested menus for:

Tea Party








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