To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s sapphire jubilee on Monday, marking 65 years on the British throne, there were new coins, a new stamp, gun salutes, and a reissued portrait taken by a famed photographer.
The only thing missing? The queen, who, in keeping with past practice on the anniversary itself, planned to observe the day privately, with a quiet reflective commemoration at her estate in Sandringham, in eastern England.
Grander celebrations are in the works for the platinum jubilee in 2022.
What is the jubilee?
Royal jubilees commemorate the life and reign of monarchs. Elizabeth, 90, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, is the first British sovereign to hold a sapphire jubilee.
The events were relatively muted compared to the silver (25 years), gold (50 years) and diamond (60 years) jubilees, which were celebrated with large-scale festivities across Britain. There was a ruby jubilee to mark Elizabeth’s 40 years as queen, but that anniversary was also low-key.
Few British monarchs have reached the 50-year milestone. King George III and Queen Victoria marked their golden jubilees with huge celebrations.
How is the queen celebrating the day?
Elizabeth was expected to spend the anniversary at Sandringham, and there will be no broader celebrations in coming days, as there had been for previous jubilees. She was apparently in “good spirits” at a church service on Sunday, local news outlets reported.
There have been concerns about the queen’s health ever since she missed church services on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Day because of what Buckingham Palace described as a “heavy cold.” Those absences were the first time in about 30 years that she had missed a holiday service.
The queen made her first public appearance this year on Jan. 8, after a month’s absence. She celebrated her diamond jubilee, in 2012, with a series of events, including a floating pageant on the River Thames and a tour across Britain.
How are Britons celebrating?
A traditional 41-gun royal salute was held at Green Park in London. That was followed by a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London.
A 2014 portrait of the queen, taken by the British photographer David Bailey, wearing sapphire jewelry given to her by her father, King George VI, as a wedding gift in 1947, was published as part of the commemoration. The Royal Mail issued a stamp worth 5 pounds, or about $6.25, to mark her accession to the throne, and ranges of special jubilee coins have been cast by the Royal Mint to mark the occasion, with one worth about £50,000.
Prime Minister Theresa May congratulated the queen on behalf of the nation, calling her an “inspiration.”
“It is a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation that she is not marking becoming the first monarch to reign for 65 years with any special celebration, but instead getting on with the job to which she has dedicated her life,” Mrs. May said in a statement.