The Diamond Reign Of Queen Elizabeth

A Timeline Of Events

Britain's Queen, Elizabeth II, will celebrate her diamond jubilee, sixty years as Queen of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, in 2012.  Queen Elizabeth is Britain's second longest reigning monarch. Only Queen Victoria has reigned longer.  I am sixty this year. Queen Elizabeth has been Queen all my life, the only Queen most of us have known. So what are the events that have marked her reign? Presidents and premiers come and go but Queen Elizabeth remains. In 2010 the UN Secretary Genral described her as 'an anchor for our age.' This is why.

The Fifties

1952 - Elizabeth is at the Treetops hotel in Kenya on route for Australia and New Zealand when news of her Father's death reaches her. She is declared Queen throughout her realms and returns to Britain, moving with Phillip into Buckingham Palace. Eisenhour replaces Truman as President of the United States.  A hydrogen bomb is detonated for the first time. The contraceptive pill is introduced and the transistor radio is developed.

1953 - The  Coronation of Queen Elizabeth takes place on 2nd June 1953.

Detail from a Coronation Portrait(86667)Credit: Library and Archives Canada/K-0000047

It is the first coronation to be televised. The number of TV sets in the UK doubles to 3 million and for many of the estimated 20 million who watch it is their first experience of television. Princess Margaret announces she wishes to marry Peter Townsend a divorced commoner, 16 years older than her. The Church is opposed to the match. Margaret is persuaded to postpone and eventually call the off the relationship. In Russia Joseph Stalin dies.

 1953-54 Queen Elizabeth is the first reigning monarch of  Australia and New Zealand to visit those countries. The crowds were immense and during that tour three-quarters of the Australian public were estimated to have seen Queen Elizabeth during that tour. She will go on to become the most widely travelled head of state in history.

1955 - Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister

1956 - Britain and France invade Egypt in an unsuccesful attempt to capture the Suez Canal. Prime Minister Antony Eden resigns two months later to be succeeded by Harold Macmillan.

1957 - The Treaty of Rome establishes the European Economic Community which will become the European Union. Queen Elizabeth makes a state visit to the United States where she addresses the United Nations General Assembly. On the same tour she becomes the first reigning monarch of Canada to open parliament in that country.

1958 NASA is established. The Munich air disaster claims 21 lives and wipes out Manchester United's Busby Babes. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is established.

1959  - Queen Elizabeth revisits the United States as a representative of Canada. Prince Andrew, the Queen's third child is born. Buddy Holly releases his last record. The Soviet premier Khrushchev visits the United States.

The Sixties

1960 - Princess Margaret marries the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones who is created Earl of Snowden. Harold Macmillan makes his 'winds of change' speech in South Africa acknowledging the push for Britain's colonies to achieve independence. The Olympic games are held in Rome.

1961 - Queen Elizabeth tours Cyprus, India, Pakistan and Nepal. Later that year she visits Ghana where President Kwame Nkhruma has replaced her as head of state. Yuri Gagarin is the first man into space.

1963 - Princess Edward, Queen Elizabeth's third son is born. Harold Macmillan resigns and is replaced as prime minister by Alec Douglas-Home. The Beatles release their first album. John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

1964 - Lyndon B. Johnson is re-elected U.S. President. The Olympic games take place in Tokyo.

1965 Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith makes Universal Declaration of Independence (UDI)  in opposition to black majority rule. Queen Elizabeth dismisses Smith and the international community applies sanctions but his regime lasts another ten years. Winston Churchill dies and is buried with a state funeral.

1966 England win the football World Cup on home soil beating West Germany 4-2 at Wembley.

1967 - The Six Day War is fought between Israel and the United Arab Republic.

1968 - Martin Luther King is assassinated. Viet Cong troops launch the Tet offensive.

1969 - America lands men on the moon. Richard Nixon is inaugurated President of the United States.

The Seventies

1970 - While touring Australia and New Zealand, Queen Elizabeth introduces the first royal walkabout, where she meets ordinary members of the public. The Beatles break up. Computer floppy discs are introduced.

1971 - Britain decimalises its coinage. London Bridge is sold and taken to the United States.

1972 - Mark Spitz wins seven gold medals at the Olympics. The film the Godfather is released. Liam Gallagher is born. The Mister Men books are first published.

1973- Britain joins the European Economic Community. America withdraws from Vietnam.

1974 - Edward Heath calls a snap General Election causing the Queen to return prematurely from an Australian tour. Heath fails to secure a majority and gives way to a Labour administration led by Harold Wilson.

1975 - There is a constitutional crisis in Australia when the Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam is dismissed from his post by the Governor General, Queen Elizabeth's official representative in Australia after parliament rejected his budget proposals. The Speaker of the House appeals to Queen Elizabeth to reverse the decision but she refused. The crisis strengthened a growing  Australian republican movement..

1976 - Jimmy Carter wins the U.S. presidential election.

1977 - Queen Elizabeth celebrates her Silver Jubilee. Her subjects celebrate with a rash of street parties in Britain and throughout the Commonwealth. The Queen's popularity is at its height but there is press speculation about the health of Princess Margaret's marriage. Punk is at its height too. The Sex Pistols release their single 'God Save The Queen'.

1978 - Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowden are divorced. The world's first test tube baby Louise Brown is born in Great Britain.

1979 Lord Mountbatten of Burma, Prince Phillip's uncle and mentor is assassinated by the Provisional IRA. A former surveyor of the Queen's pictures Anthony Blunt is unmasked as a communist spy. Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain's first woman Prime Minister. 

The Eighties

1980 - Hostages are released as a 444 day siege of America's Tehran embassy is bought to an end. America announces it will boycott the Moscow Olympics. John Lennon is assassinated in New York.

The Queen rides out with President Reagan 1982Credit: Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library

1981   Six weeks before Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer are to be married six shots are fired at Queen Elizabeth from close range during the Trooping of the Colour Ceremony.  They are found later found to be blanks. The Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul's Cathedral is watched by a TV audience of  750 million people.

1982 - Queen Elizabeth finds an intruder Michael Fagan in her room at Buckingham Palace. President Reagan is an invited guest at Windsor Castle. Argentina invades the Falklands. Britain dispatches a task force to regain the islands. Prince Andrew is part of the task force as a Royal Navy officer.

1983 A Beirut barracks bombing during the Lebanese civil war kills 299 American and French servicemen. John McEnroe wins Wimbledon for the third time.

1984 - The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles are boycotted by the Soviet Union and most of the Eastern block countries.

1985 - Bob Geldof organises the Live Aid Concert for the relief of famine in Ethiopia.

1986 The Space Shuttle Challenger is lost. Mike Tyson becomes the youngest heavyweight boxing champion of the world at the age of 20.

1987 -  The Single European Act is signed by the European Community.

1988 - A Boeing 747 is bought down over Lockerbie on route from London's Heathrow to the JFK airport in New York. The bomb kills 243 passengers, 17 crew members and 11 people on the ground. The summer Olympics are held in Seoul, South Korea. George Bush is elected president.

1989  -18 fans lose their lives in the Hillsborough football disaster. Protests in China's Tiananmen Square are ruthlessly suppressed. Nicolai Ceausescu overthrown as Romanian leader. The Soviet Union abandons the Cold War. 

The Nineties

1990 - John Major replaces Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. Nelson Mandela is released from prison.

1991 - The young Royals take part in an infamous 'It's a Royal Knockout' competition. Press stories about the Queen's wealth and the state of royal marriages fuel republican sentiment. Britain supports the United States in the First Gulf War waged by coalition forces against Iraq in response to Iraq's annexation of Kuwait. Following the war Queen Elizabeth becomes the first monarch to address a joint session of the United States Congress.

1992  - Prince Charles and Prince Andrew are separated from their wives, Princess Anne divorces her husband and a severe fire destroys a wing of Windsor Castle. Queen Elizabeth dubs it her annus horribilis. Quebec votes to remain part of Canada. There is rioting in Los Angeles.

1993 - A reform of royal finance is announced that means the Queen will pay income tax for the first time. There are reductions in the civil list (the royal budget). An official Buckingham Palace spokesman says estimates of Queen Elizabeth's personal wealth of £100 million are 'grossly overstated.'

1994 - South African blacks get to vote for the first time. The Provisional IRA announce a cease fire. There is a bloody Civil War in Rwanda.

1995 - A bomb in Oklahoma kills 188 people. A massive earthquake shakes Japan. O.J. Simpson is found innocent.

1996 - Prince Charles and Princess Diana are divorced. 16 children and one adult are killed by a gunman at a school in Dunblane, Scotland.

1997 - Princess Diana is killed in a car crash. The country is plunged into deep mourning. The media are critical of the Royal family's seclusion at Balmoral. Queen Elizabeth restores her reputation making a public broadcast shortly before the funeral. Tony Blair wins a landslide general election and becomes Prime Minister.

1998 - David Beckham is sent off playing for England in the World Cup against Argentina. England are eliminated on penalties. Beckham becomes a hate figure.

1999  - A referendum in Australia on the future of the monarchy favours its retention in preference to an elected head of state.

The New Century

2000  -Britain and the world celebrate a new millennium.  Fears about a 'millennium time bomb' prove ungrounded. Official celebrations focus on Tony Blair's  widely ridiculed Millenium Dome. The Queen Elizabeth in her Christmas message talks about the theological significance of the millenium as the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ.

2001 - In America, hijacked jets are flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. 3000 die in a series of coordinated attacks that also target the Pentagon. Britain supports the United States invasion of Iraq. A last ditch goal from David Beckham salvages England's hopes of World Cup qualification. Beckham is a hero again.

2002 - Queen Elizabeth celebrates her Golden Jubilee, fifty years on the throne. Once again there are street parties and celebrations. The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret die within a few weeks of each other.

2003 - Queen Elizabeth has key hole surgery on both of her knees. She misses several engagements. There is speculation when she appears with a bandaged hand. It emerges she has been bitten by a corgi. England win the Rugby World Cup beating the hosts Australia with a famous drop goal from Johnny Wilkinson. Allied forces invade Iraq.

2004 - Chechen terrorists take 1,200 schoolchildren hostage in Russia. The summer Olympics take place in Athens. 200,000 killed in Asia by Boxing Day Tsunami. 

2005 - Tony Blair becomes first British Prime Minister to win three successive general elections. Pope John Paul  I dies. Islamic terrorists set off bombs in London. The IRA announces it is officially ending its campaign of violence. Angela Merkel becomes Germany's first female chancellor.

2006 Saddam Hussein is sentenced to death in Iraq. Italy win the World Cup defeating France in a penalty shoot out.

2007 - Gordon Brown succeeds Tony Blair as Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party. Gerry Adams and Rev. Ian Paisley meet for the first time and agree a power sharing arrangement for Northern Ireland.

2008 - Terrorist gunmen attack Mumbai, India. Barak Obama wins the U.S. Presidential election.

2009 - The worst wild fires in Australia's history kill 181 people. Anne Duffy becomes the UK's first female poet laureate.

2010 - Queen Elizabeth addresses the United Nations for the second time. She is described by the SecretA toast to Queen ElizabethCredit: White House photo by Eric Draperary general as 'an anchor for our age.' Visiting New York she opens memorial gardens to the British victims of September 11th. The Conservatives are the largest party following the general election and form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.  David Cameron is Prime Minister.

2011 - Prince William marries Kate Middleton. Queen Elizabeth makes her first visit as monarch to the Republic of Ireland at the invitation of Irish president Mary Macaleese. She  makes the 16th visit of her reign to Australia.

2012 Queen Elizabeth celebrates 60 years on the throne. The Olympic games will come to London.

The Diamond Queen - Presented by Andrew Marr
Amazon Price: $4.81 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 25, 2016)