The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Queen Elizabeth II to mark Platinum Jubilee with pageantry, street parties and the search for a new royal dessert

In this photo issued on Dec. 23, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II records her annual Christmas broadcast in Windsor Castle. (Victoria Jones/AP)

LONDON — Buckingham Palace unveiled its plans Monday for throwing the British monarch a big bash to celebrate her unprecedented 70 years on the throne, and it put pudding, pageantry and street parties at the heart of the celebrations.

On Feb. 6, Queen Elizabeth II will become the first British monarch to celebrate seven decades of wearing the crown — and the United Kingdom is getting ready to raise a toast to the only monarch most Britons have ever known.

To kick things off, the country will dedicate a new dessert to its 95-year-old queen after a nationwide cooking competition.

Buckingham Palace announces unprecedented ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II next year

Buckingham Palace on Monday announced a full lineup of events to mark the Platinum Jubilee, which started immediately with an invitation to the British public to create a pudding in tribute to the queen’s long reign.

Royal-inspired dishes can go on to become national favorites. After the queen’s coronation in 1953, florist and author Constance Spry and Cordon Bleu chef Rosemary Hume came up with “coronation chicken” to mark the event — a cold chicken salad dish or sandwich filler with a mayonnaise sauce that has remained popular. Victoria sponge cake was named after Queen Victoria, the current queen’s great-great-grandmother, who, until 2015, was the longest-reigning British monarch.

The royal pudding competition is for any British resident who is at least 8 years old. It will be judged by Mary Berry, the queen of television baking; Monica Galetti, a judge from the MasterChef cooking show; and Buckingham Palace head chef Mark Flanagan. Five finalists will whip up their creations at a live event in March at the upmarket London department store Fortnum & Mason.

There is no rule book for how to celebrate a British monarch’s 70 years on the throne, but the idea of a baking competition seemed to go down well. The Times of London said in an editorial, “British food has historically received a bad rap, but there is one culinary tradition in which everyone can surely agree that Britain reigns supreme: puddings.”

The word “pudding” in Britain has a broader definition than it does in the United States and generally means all desserts rather than just the soupy, gelatinous ones.

The main focus for celebrations, however, will be in May and June, which is when Britain expects — or can reasonably hope for — better weather.

In May, more than 1,000 performers and 500 horses will put on a show in Windsor, which will be televised. It will showcase highlights spanning from the queen’s 16th-century namesake, Elizabeth I, all the way up to the present — making for a lot of history.

During a long weekend already dubbed Jubilee Weekend, from June 2 to 5, two of the queen’s private residences — Sandringham and Balmoral — will be open to visitors. Street parties will be planned across the country, and the queen’s subjects will presumably wolf down large portions of the soon-to-be announced “platinum pudding.” A live concert is planned outside Buckingham Palace with some of the world’s “biggest entertainment stars,” the palace said.

Also during the weekend, more than 1,500 beacons will be lit for the monarch, stretching from the Scottish Highlands to the Channel Islands. Capitals in Commonwealth countries will also light beacons, even though some of those states have parted ways with the British monarchy.

Royal jubilees tend to be a high-water mark for pageantry, which is saying a lot in Britain. During the queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the monarch led a 1,000-vessel flotilla down the River Thames. Music legends Paul McCartney, Elton John and Stevie Wonder serenaded the queen at a concert on a purpose-built stage outside Buckingham Palace.

But despite attempts by the House of Windsor to focus attention this year on the queen, who remains popular with the public, the festivities could also be overshadowed by ongoing controversy surrounding Prince Andrew, the queen’s second son. Andrew’s lawyers are seeking to persuade a New York court to dismiss a sexual abuse lawsuit against him.

A memoir by grandson Prince Harry, reflecting the “highs and lows” of his life, is also due out later in the year.

It’s unclear what jubilee events the queen will take part in. A combination of health issues and coronavirus restrictions has kept the British monarch from many public engagements since she spent a night in the hospital in October for what Buckingham Palace said were “preliminary investigations.”

Commentators said other senior royals, including her son Prince Charles and grandson Prince William, are expected to play key roles at many of this year’s events.

Read more:

Britain gets glimpse of queen in Christmas message

Prince Andrew’s lawyers, arguing for dismissal of sexual assault lawsuit, point to accuser’s secret settlement with Jeffrey Epstein

Barbados declares Rihanna a national hero after ditching Queen Elizabeth II as head of state

Loading...