The Brit List: Summer of London – The Royal Summer

1. The Diamond Jubilee Weekend: Epsom Derby, Big Lunch, and Jubilee Pageant

The view from Blackfrairs Bridge of a giant picture of the royal family at the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. The canvas, 328 feet wide and 230 feet high, weighs nearly two tons and is the largest ever photograph of the royal family. From the left, in the photo-within-the photo: Prince Charles, Prince Edward, Prince Andrew, Earl Mountbatten, the Queen, Prince Phillip, Mark Phillips and Princess Anne. (Matt Dunham/AP Images)

Though the Central Weekend, as it is called, will be taking place throughout the Commonwealth, its epicenter will be London.

“This is the first big royal event since Kate and William’s wedding,” says CNN royal correspondent Max Foster, who points out that last April introduced the royal family to a new global audience. With the Jubilee celebrations, he says, “they will be treated to a spectacular visual feast which will be a welcome antidote to a world weighed down by economic crises and regional unrest.”

On Saturday, the Queen will attend the Epsom Derby.

On Sunday, people in London, like people throughout the UK, will get together for the Big Lunch, which is, according to its organizers, “all about community, friendship and fun.” An estimated 10 million Britons participated in the Big Lunch for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, so it’s anyone’s guess how many people will get together with family, friends and neighbors this Sunday.

One of the largest of the gatherings will be the Piccadilly Big Jubilee Lunch, which in addition to having a 500-seat picnic table, will feature entertainment from organizations based nearby, like BAFTA and the Royal Academy of Arts.

Community get-togethers won’t be limited to the Big Lunch. Throughout the weekend, expect to see folks everywhere carrying on the great British tradition of the street party, begun in 1919 to celebrate the Treaty of Versailles. Last week, the Telegraph reported that some 10,000 street parties are planned across the UK, with permits issued for more than 6,500 road closures. The paper, estimating that the Jubilee will see “double the number of community events that celebrated the royal wedding last year,” has been offering videos about how to prepare. This one, an interview with the Big Lunch’s Camilla Baker, explains how to make “Coronation Chicken,” a popular street party dish that was featured at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 but that traces its roots back to a recipe from King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935.

On Sunday afternoon, a flotilla of one thousand boats, many adorned with decorations and Union Jacks, will be launched down the Thames as part of the Jubilee Pageant. There will be music, geysers and even a floating belfry.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will take a newly refurbished barge, or tender, that traveled with her beloved Royal Yacht Britannia to get to the Pageant.

Once they get to the Pageant’s starting point at Chelsea Pier, the couple will join other royals, including Prince Charles and Camilla, on the Spirit of Chartwell, a private vessel patterned after a 1929 luxury railway car and also intended to evoke the grandeur of the golden age of transatlantic ocean liners. For the occasion, it is being fitted with a two-ton gold leaf display on its bow.

The flotilla, which will even include one ship that took part in Queen Victoria‘s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, is said to be largest collection of historic vessels ever to sail down the Thames.

“One thousand crafts join the royal barge in traveling along the river in a procession not seen for hundreds of years,” says People’s Perry. “That should be an amazing spectacle.”

NEXT: The Jubilee Weekend: Concert, Thanksgiving Service, and Carriage Procession

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