Celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
As Queen’s Birthday weekend is celebrated in New Zealand the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations will be in full swing in London.
There has been one previous Diamond Jubilee—that of Queen Victoria in 1897. At that time Premier Richard John Seddon travelled to London to attend the celebrations—something that was a much bigger undertaking than it is now. He left New Zealand in April, following a very brief session of Parliament. After a long trip, including travelling across the American continent, he attended the Jubilee on 20 June. He left England in late July and arrived back in Wellington in early September to a tumultuous welcome and procession to Parliament Buildings. Parliament met again for another session two weeks later.
In contrast, the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, will be away from the country for less than two weeks while he represents New Zealand at the current Jubilee celebrations and undertakes other official business.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became New Zealand’s Queen and Head of State on 6 February 1952, upon the death of her father, King George VI. Her first visit as Queen of New Zealand was at the end of 1953 and she has been a regular visitor since, paying 10 visits in total. She has travelled extensively throughout the country and opened sessions of the New Zealand Parliament on several occasions.
New Zealand is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, with the Queen as Sovereign, or Head of State. New Zealand’s Parliament consists of the Sovereign (usually represented by the Governor-General) and the House of Representatives.
A number of royal-related items are on public display in Parliament’s Visitor Centre to mark the Jubilee. These include a coronation-themed tapestry and a throne chair used for State Openings. Some memorabilia from Seddon’s 1897 trip are also included.
You can visit or take a tour of Parliament seven days a week. Over this holiday weekend Monday’s tours are run to a Saturday timetable. (See the related links panel on this page for details).