What are the platinum jubilee beacons and how can I take part?

·4 min read
The Queen lights a beacon to celebrate her 90th birthday in 2016 (Getty Images)
The Queen lights a beacon to celebrate her 90th birthday in 2016 (Getty Images)

With only a few more weeks to go until the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations begin, royal enthusiasts across the UK are dusting off their Union Jack’s and making plans to raise a glass to the monarch’s 70-year reign.

Four days of celebrations are scheduled to honour the 96-year-old, including a platinum jubilee concert, Trooping the Colour, a pageant and a Service of Thanksgiving.

Events have also been organised around the country to mark the first time in British history that a monarch has reached this special milestone.

But celebrations aren’t just confined to the British Isles. The platinum jubilee beacons are an international recognition of the Queen’s service.

But what are the platinum jubilee beacons and how can you get involved? Here’s everything you need to know.

What are the platinum jubilee beacons?

A beacon at Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire is lit in 2016 to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday (Getty Images)
A beacon at Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire is lit in 2016 to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday (Getty Images)

The platinum jubilee beacons are one of the official events of the jubilee celebration, running across the extended bank holiday.

Beacons will be lit up and down the UK, as well as in Commonwealth nations, to mark the special occasion.

The event’s official website states: “There is a long and unbroken tradition in our country of celebrating royal jubilees, weddings and coronations with the lighting of beacons.

“A beacon chain, once used as a tool for communication, has now become a symbol of unity across towns, borders, countries and continents and is often the central point of focus for any outdoor gathering or celebration.”

Beacons were lit to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

They were also used in 1977, 2002 and 2012 to celebrate Elizabeth II’s Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees, as well as her 90th birthday in 2016.

As a special tribute to the monarch, a brand new Song for the Commonwealth will be sung by choirs in all 54 Commonwealth countries at the same time as the lighting of the beacons.

Where will the platinum jubilee beacons be lit?

More than 2,022 beacons will be lit throughout the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and British Overseas Territories, including one in each of the capital cities of Commonwealth countries, in recognition of the Queen’s service.

Here’s where the beacons will be lit across the Commonwealth:

  • St John’s, Antigua and Barbuda

  • Canberra, Australia

  • Nassau, Bahamas

  • Dhaka, Bangladesh

  • Bridgetown, Barbados

  • Belmopan, Belize

  • Gaborone, Botswana

  • Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

  • Yaoundé, Cameroon

  • Ottawa, Canada

  • Nicosia, Cyprus

  • Roseau, Dominica

  • Mbabane, Ewatini

  • Lobamba, Eswatini

  • Suva, Fiji

  • Banjul, The Gambia

  • Accra, Ghana

  • St George’s, Grenada

  • Georgetown, Guyana

  • New Delhi, India

  • Kingston, Jamaica

  • Nairobi, Kenya

  • South Tarawa, Kiribati

  • Maseru, Lesotho

  • Lilongwe, Malawi

  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  • Putrajaya, Malaysia

  • Malé, Maldives

  • Valletta, Malta

  • Port Louis, Mauritius

  • Maputo, Mozambique

  • Windhoek, Namibia

  • Yaren, Nauru

  • Wellington, New Zealand

  • Abuja, Nigeria

  • Islamabad, Pakistan

  • Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

  • Kigali, Rwanda

  • Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis

  • Castries, St Lucia

  • Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines

  • Apia, Samoa

  • Victoria, Seychelles

  • Freetown, Sierra Leone

  • Singapore

  • Honiara, Solomon Islands

  • Pretoria, South Africa

  • Cape Town, South Africa

  • Bloemfontein, South Africa

  • Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Sri Lanka

  • Colombo, Sri Lanka

  • Dodoma, Tanzania

  • Nuku’alofa, Tonga

  • Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

  • Funafuti, Tuvalu

  • Kampala, Uganda

  • Port Vila, Vanuatu

  • Lusaka, Zambia

When will the beacons be lit?

Beacons will be lit along Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Beacons will be lit along Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

All beacons across the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man will be lit at 9.45pm on Thursday 2 June, other than the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Anchor Chain, which will be lit at 9.30pm, and the beacons along Hadrian’s Wall, which will be lit at 10pm. The principal beacon is at the Mall in central London.

The international beacons will be lit at 9.15pm local time.

How can I get involved with the platinum jubilee beacons events?

There are hundreds of existing events that have already been scheduled across the UK. To find one near you, simply search for platinum jubilee beacons events in your area.

Local communities are able to organise their own beacon events. To do so, register on the platinum jubilee beacons website here no later than 31 May.

The event website advises: “Invite your Lord Lieutenant, Deputy Lieutenant, Lord Mayor, High Sheriff, High Steward, Lord Provost, Chairman or Leader of the Council to light your beacon at 9.45pm. Alternatively, you may like to organise a competition in partnership with your local media, with the winner having the honour of lighting the beacon.”

Bakers may also wish to try their hand at creating a Queen’s platinum jubilee beacon tart, which contains ingredients representing all four nations of the UK.

These include Cheddar cheese from England, potatoes from Northern Ireland, smoked salmon from Scotland and leeks from Wales.

Find out more about the tart here.

Join former BBC Royal Correspondent Jennie Bond to reflect on the Queen’s 70 incredible years on the throne at a platinum jubilee panel event run by The Independent on Thursday 17 May at 6.30pm.

The broadcaster and journalist will be joined by The Independent’s Associate Editor Sean O’Grady, Deputy Voices Editor Sunny Hundal and hosted by Deputy Lifestyle Editor Laura Hampson to explore the highs and lows of her majesty’s seven decades on the throne.

For more information and to sign up for a ticket visit our Eventbrite page.