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The Queen's Platinum Jubilee - More than a Celebration

From June 2nd to June 5th Britain celebrates the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the accession of the Queen. With 70 years on the throne, Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, which means that it is the first time any British monarch has reached this milestone. As it is pointed out in The Economist, the jubilee represents continuity by its very nature. For nearly a century, the 96-year-old Queen has been with millions of Britons during her reign. The celebration of her personal longevity also symbolizes the public’s expectation of the constancy of the state.

In order to celebrate this unprecedented Jubilee, the original Spring bank holiday in late May was moved to June 2nd, creating an extra four-day bank holiday. The British government has promised a "once-in-a-generation show" that will "mix the best of British ceremonial splendour and pageantry with cutting-edge artistic and technological displays" during the Jubilee break. In fact, various celebrations have taken place across the United Kingdom in the run-up to June. Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport announced a £28 million budget for Jubilee celebrations in 2021 (excluding the cost of the extra bank holiday). The DCMS department, on the other hand, forecasted a £2.39 million loss due to business closures during the Jubilee break. In this sense, the criticism of the celebration raised by some taxpayers is understandable - the UK economy may once again be dragged down after the rocky recovery from coronavirus lockdowns and the Ukraine War.

However, the public appears to be overly concerned about the economic situation. The fact is that the Queen’s jubilees prior to the pandemic always have a “bounce-back” effect on the GDP in the quarters following the celebration. In 2002, for example, the Queen's Golden Jubilee saw a negative monthly economic growth rate of 2.2%, but the GDP growth rate quickly rebounded to 1.55% in the following months. Similar situations occurred during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Despite the huge costs of businesses closing during the jubilee break, the continuous celebrations for the 2022 Platinum Jubilee consumer spending are expected to bring a £1.2 billion boost to the UK economy, with more than 19 million people planning to participate. Retail and hospitality are two sectors that benefit greatly from the celebrations. Over 200,000 local events and street parties are expected across the UK over the four-day break, according to data provided by DCMS. Furthermore, commemorative collections, such as coins and stamps, have been released specifically for the Platinum Jubilee. Consumers in the United Kingdom are expected to spend $356 million on memorabilia, according to the Centre for Retail Research.

After two years of continuous lockdown, the four-days bank holiday provides people with an opportunity to get out and enjoy themselves. A joint statement from the trade organizations shows that the four days off would “do wonders for income and for employee morale”, thus giving the economy a massive boost in the post-pandemic era. Some people prefer to spend their vacations traveling. However, British travellers have faced unexpected travel chaos even before the beginning of their trip. According to aviation data firm Cirium, more than 300 flights have been cancelled, mostly by EasyJet and Wizz Air, affecting an estimated 12,000 people. The four-day platinum jubilee weekend and the half-term holiday for most schools in England and Wales are believed to be the reasons for the “ongoing challenging operating environment”.

Even if it remains to be seen whether the jubilee break will bring a “bounce-back” effect to the UK economy, the Platinum Jubilee is still a significant celebration for Britain. When the 96-year-old monarch appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on Sunday with the companion of the royal family, the crowd erupted into prolonged cheers. All in all, the Platinum Jubilee provides the British a moment to reflect on the legitimacy of their polity and prepare for the changes ahead.


References/ Wider Reading

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