London — Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her Platinum Jubilee this year, which is the 70-year anniversary of her reign as queen of the United Kingdom and its 14 Commonwealth nations.
Already the country's longest-reigning monarch — a landmark she reached in 2015 — Elizabeth is the first to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. Events have been organized around the U.K. and Commonwealth countries to mark the occasion. Here is everything you need to know:
What is the Platinum Jubilee?
The Platinum Jubilee is the 70th anniversary of a British monarch's reign, and Queen Elizabeth II is the first to reach the milestone.
On significant anniversaries like this one, celebratory events are organized across the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries.
When is the Platinum Jubilee?
Elizabeth II became the queen on February 6, 1952, on the death of her father King George VI.
Most years, the queen spends the anniversary of her father's death in quiet reflection at her Sandringham estate, but this year she invited local community groups for a small celebration, and viewed some Jubilee memorabilia.
Elizabeth's formal coronation took place on June 2, 1953, so the major Platinum Jubilee celebrations will start on Thursday, June 2 and continue through the weekend.
What events will take place?
On Thursday, the ceremony of "Trooping the Color" will take place in central London. The traditional military ceremony became an annual event to mark the official birthday of the British sovereign in the 1700s.
British army regiments have their own flags, or "colors," which were used as rallying points on the battlefield. As part of the traditional "Trooping the Color" ceremony, the queen inspects her troops and is given a royal salute. The ceremony includes a massive parade with more than 1,400 soldiers and 400 musicians joined by members of the royal family in carriages and on horseback. There is then a flypast by Britain's Royal Air Force, which members of the workingwill watch from the Buckingham Palace balcony.
For the first time ever, beacons will be lit in the capital cities of every "realm" of the Commonwealth, from Antigua to Tuvalu.
On Friday, a service of thanksgiving will take place at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Buckingham Palace said Thursday that the queen experienced "some discomfort" during the day's events, and "taking into account the journey and activity required to participate," she will not attend Friday's service.
On Saturday, the queen and her family had planned to attend a horse race, but there are reports that the queen may meet Harry and Meghan's daughter, Lilibet, instead.
Saturday evening, Ed Sheeran and Diana Ross will be among the stars to play a live concert in the queen's honor.
On Sunday, thousands of people across the country have organized street parties, with encouragement from the government, and a massive picnic lunch is planned in Windsor, west of London, where the queen's primary home Windsor Castle is located.
Will Harry and Meghan join the celebrations?
In May, it was confirmed that Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were coming back to the U.K. from their home in California to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee. They will bring their two children, Archie and Lilibet.
It was not made clear, however, what events they would attend. They were not expected to appear on the balcony at Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Color parade, as the queen has indicated that only royals undertaking official public duties would be there.
They were, however, expected to attend the service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral, as well as other events over the weekend.
Since their very public falling out with relatives a couple years ago, Harry and Meghan areof the royal family, and thus do not participate in official public duties.
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