Platinum Jubilee will be a chance for the West Midlands to say it with fire

The skies of the West Midlands will be ablaze in June next year as Britain celebrates its first Platinum Jubilee in history.

The Diamond Jubilee Beacon atop the Wrekin in 2012
The Diamond Jubilee Beacon atop the Wrekin in 2012

On June 2 next year, the Queen will celebrate an unprecedented 70 years on the throne, and – Covid permitting – it promises to be one of the great spectacles of the century.

At precisely 9.15pm, more than 1,000 beacons will be lit across the land as well as in Commonwealth countries, celebrating the longest reign by any UK monarch.

The wonderfully titled Pageant Master for Buckingham Palace is urging people to start making preparations now. Bruno Peek wants town criers, bagpipe-players, civic leader and farmers from across the region to get involved to ensure everyone has a night to remember.

Many will remember the lighting of the beacon on the roof of London's O2 arena as one of the highlights of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

But closer to home, beacons were also lit on high points around the region including Barr Beacon, The Wrekin, Long Mynd, Dudley Castle, Ellesmere and West Park in Wolverhampton.

Mr Peek hopes such sights will be repeated again next year. Burwarton Estates has already signed up to place a beacon on top of Brown Clee Hill, the highest point in Shropshire, and there will also be beacons at Sibdon near Craven Arms, Prees, and at Mynydd Myfyr in the north of the county.

"There is a long and unbroken tradition in our country of celebrating royal jubilees, weddings and coronations, with the lighting of beacons on top of mountains, church and cathedral towers, castle battlements, on town and village greens, country estates, parks and farms, along beaches and on cliff tops," says Mr Peek.

"In 1897, beacons were lit to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

"In 1977, 2002 and 2012, beacons commemorated the silver, golden and diamond jubilees of The Queen, and in 2016 Her Majesty’s 90th birthday."

Newport town crier Peter Taunton and his deputy Lee Storey proclaimed the Diamond Jubilee in 2012
A bonfire on the Wrekin to mark the Golden Jubilee in 2002
Diamond Jubilee beacon atop the 11th century Dudley Castle
Town crier Percy Simmonds in full voice in Wellington town centre during the 2002 Golden Jubilee

Mr Peek wants to see town criers proclaiming the lighting of the beacons at 1pm on the day itself, with pipers performing a piece of music specially composed for the occasion as the sun goes down at 9.09pm. Diu Regnare, which translated from Latin means 'She reigned for a long time", has been written by award-winning piper Stuart Liddell. The flames will all then be lit at 9.15pm precisely.

Local choirs will also be encouraged to sing a specially written song, which will be selected by a competition involving musicians from across the Commonwealth.

There will be an extra West Midlands dimension to this year's celebrations, with Birmingham-based Bullfinch Gas Equipment having been selected as the Buckingham Palace approved supplier of the gas beacons which will be used at many of the events. The beacons, which will be made in Tyesley, will feature a burner-head shaped like a globe to represent the nations of the Commonwealth, which will be surrounded by a crown.

The National Farmers' Union is also supporting the celebrations, and encouraging its members throughout England and Wales to light beacons.

NFU President Minette Batters says: "From the uplands to the lowlands, our farmers will be lighting beacons on the most iconic parts of the countryside in tribute.”

Barr Beacon near Walsall was aflame for the Diamond Jubilee
A crown rising on the Mere at Ellesmere was one of the attractions at the Ellesmere Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012
Market Drayton town crier Geoff Russell proclaiming the 2012 Diamond Jubilee

Forces' charity Walking with the Wounded will light gas-fuelled beacons on top of the highest peaks in the the four countries of the UK - Ben Nevis, in Scotland; Scafell Pike in England; Mount Snowdon in Wales; and Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland.

Mr Peek says the Jubilee will also be an opportunity to thank hospital workers for their contribution during the pandemic. He says the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham is one of two that has already signed up for the celebrations.

"They plan to create a party atmosphere by inviting their staff to a pre-lighting event, involving food, refreshment and local entertainment," says Mr Peek. "The hospital will run a competition to find the lucky colleague given the honour of lighting the beacon on the night."

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