We certainly weren’t a family that supported the royals, but there was a big fancy-dress street party round the corner and lots of my friends would be there. My stepfather did a bit of am dram and had some makeup in the house. He thought it would be funny if I went as Count Dracula. I had full makeup, including fake blood around my mouth, as well as a huge black cloak and a small coffin which I carried under my arm.
I was prompted by my stepfather to seek out babies in prams and open up my cloak to cover the pram opening and pretend to bite the baby. I was eight, so it was a case of: it’s really funny, the adults think it’s funny, I’ll go along with it. And then suddenly: “Oh! Not all the adults like it.” They took my parents to one side and said this isn’t really in keeping with the spirit of the event. I was sent home and was quite glad as it was a warm day and I was boiling under the heavy cloak. I quickly got changed, cleaned off the makeup and returned to the party. Years later I realised I’d been used to poke fun at the whole event. But I don’t mind. I love telling the story and hopefully should get to tell it a few times this year.
My stepfather ran off with the au pair, to Spain – it was that kind of childhood. I won’t be celebrating this time. I don’t wish the royal family any harm but I think it’s completely wrong.
During the silver jubilee I was staying in the village of Potsgrove, in Bedfordshire, with my sister (she was five, I was three) and my mother, who the villagers called The Hippy. “Villagers” sounds patronising; there was just a village, with people in it, and all the people thought she was a hippy, which was fair, because she was a peacenik and a republican, and she refused to dress her children in red, white and blue costumes made of crepe paper, and she couldn’t make meringues, and ultimately, why do hippies – or their descendants, woke warriors – even turn up to silver jubilees? Nobody knows. Maybe we’re just there for the meringues.
My sister and I were like urban foxes let loose in a rural environment: less fit than the other kids, but wilier. She won the egg and spoon race, which baffled us all because in London where we lived, she never won anything. Our mum won a piglet in a guess-the-weight-of-the-piglet competition.
Obviously the main event, from our point of view, was the tea, because a farmer’s wife had made the kind of cakes I’d only ever seen in children’s book illustrations. This same woman had painted huge playing cards (double-sided) for her son (king of hearts), her nephew (jack of hearts) and her daughter (queen of hearts), all while running her farm. I once saw her resuscitate a baby lamb in an oven.
Technically the high point was when all the red, white and blue children got on a wagon. Maybe there was a horse? The purpose was a bit foggy to me, because that was when it started to rain, and the crepe paper melted all over the children, streaking them mainly with red but some blue, like a patriotic re-enactment of Carrie, and they all started crying, except for me and my sister, who were wearing regular clothes (probably dungarees). I thought the others looked quite cool, as if they’d been tie-dyed. Which was ironic, because we were supposed to be the hippies.
That summer I went to summer school in Felixstowe. There was a jukebox there. For the first time I heard the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen (it was banned on radio, of course). It was bloody amazing. “God save the Queen / A fascist regime / They made you a moron / Potential H-bomb.” With our shoulder-length hair and flared jeans, my friend David and I pogoed and spat and pogoed and spat for the next two weeks in jubilee heaven.
This is me and my sister Lynn outside our nan’s house in Llanynghenedl on Anglesey. I would have been five, Lynn three.
I was a fussy little boy about what I’d wear, but I loved that T-shirt; it stuck to me like a second skin. My nan was a big fan of the Queen. She had ornaments of the royal family, commemorative plates and stuff, in strategic places on her big welsh dresser display unit.
I can remember the day like the back of my hand. There was a fellow who lived in the turnpike house and worked in the RAF, on the helicopters. I think his name was Ray Goodwin. He organised a big garden party. I remember a bonfire beacon, and fireworks, and he had boxes and boxes of official commemorative silver jubilee mugs. I did get one but heaven knows where it is now.
For the platinum jubliee, we – my wife, Rhiannon, and my sons Owain and Eben – are going to our caravan, in the Caernarfon area. We’ve got a group of friends and we’re having a party. We’ve got hats, crowns, bunting, balloons and I’ve got a large union jack windsock. We’re going to have barbecue food and music. There’s also going to be an outdoor cinema and I will be showing a commemorative documentary about the Queen. I’m going to have to find a pair of red shorts from somewhere.
I took part in a fancy-dress competition near my grandparents’ house in Portsmouth. I was only five, but I remember everyone in their costumes. My cousin Jake was a scarecrow.
My dad had spent weeks in the garage painstakingly making my Donald Duck costume out of coat hangers, papier-mache and an old lampshade. I remember trying it on several times as he built it; it was so well engineered. I had a pair of yellow divers’ flippers for the feet, which were really uncomfortable and difficult to walk in because they were adult size.
I won first place which was a £5 book token – an absolute fortune! I can’t remember what I bought with it.
To me, the Queen’s silver jubilee will always taste of kola kubes and aniseed twists.
I was 10 in 1977 at a junior school in Hythe, Hampshire. My birthday – 2 June – coincided with the coronation date, so it felt a bit special having all the jubilee hoopla going on. One afternoon we were all told to line up on the school field, where we were each handed a Jubilee Crown – a big coin, about 5cm across – with the Queen on a horse on one side. This was a keepsake, we were told, to remember the day. But soon it got round that actually, it was worth a real-life 25p and you could spend it in the shops. After school, I wasn’t alone in queueing at the local shop with my coin in my hand, waiting to get served sweets from big glass jars. Twenty-five pence bought a lot of sweets.
Years later I had a thought that I might have thrown away a valuable heirloom. But you can pick them up on eBay for £1.50. I don’t regret cashing in, though my teeth probably do.
It was the second year of middle school. Every child in that year group across Leeds, aged 10 and 11, went to Elland Road football ground to watch events on the pitch and the procession of the Queen and Prince Philip. We all got caught up in that feeling of: it’s a grand day out of school. I remember being asked to wear red, so that we’d be easily identifiable in a crowd of 60,000 other children all in red, and laughing about that.
Various schools were involved in events on the pitch. The Queen did a few laps in the open-topped Land Rover and then got out to chat to the various schools about what they were doing. We were purely the proles in the crowd. I did take my camera, though – Instamatic, cartridge, point-and-press then wait a month to get your pictures back. If you look closely, you can see the Queen and Philip in their Land Rover, bottom left.
We all got a mug, too. I still have it; it lives under the sink. I use it for cleaning out my paintbrushes.
There were more royalists back in the 1970s. Our parents and grandparents remembered the war and now that’s fading away. My family was sort of in between: we’d do anything for a party, we’d wave a flag at any opportunity if it meant a day off work. Now my leanings are not anti-royal – I don’t hate the family, I certainly don’t hate the Queen – but I’m very much not of that.
This photo is all the pupils (28 in total) of Rachenford primary school in north Devon, being pulled along by a tractor in a trailer that took a very long time to decorate.
I am in the centre of the photo, aged five, with bright red cheeks and a blue crepe paper sash. I remember Robert, the blond boy next to me; his sister Jennifer is in there as well. Miss Wordsworth is the teacher with the glasses and the dark hair on the far left. We only had two teachers. It wasn’t the most exciting place to grow up – a cow escaping was a highlight – so the jubilee was a special thing.
I’m confident I didn’t have a clue what was going on – something about the Queen. I remember being absolutely mortified because they measured our sashes in the middle of the classroom and they made us take our shirts off; that stuck with me more than anything to do with Queen Elizabeth. Then it rained and the colour from the crepe paper got all over our white shirts. But for some reason I was so hysterically excited. I remember full-on screaming for the entire afternoon, as if I was at a Beatles concert, and I literally couldn’t speak the next day because of it.
This time I’m going to be in Norfolk for the bank holiday weekend. The local pub is doing a barbecue. I have no idea whether I’ll be required to scream for several hours.
On Thursday 28 July 1977, the Queen visited Nottingham as part of her silver jubilee celebrations. She visited Trent Bridge to meet the England and Australia cricket teams on the first day of the third Test match. This was the famous match that saw the debut of Ian Botham and the return to the England team of Geoff Boycott.
I was 11 at the time and my mum took me and my brother Andy as well as my friend Graeme to wait outside the ground for the Queen to arrive. We seemed to wait for ages before the motor cavalcade passed. The Queen’s car came past and I took this photo on a Kodak Instamatic camera. I had been told to follow the direction of the car with the camera so the photo wouldn’t be blurred. I was pretty pleased with how it came out! It’s the first photo in a photo album I subsequently got for Christmas.
In 1977 I was a member of the Barking and Dagenham educational drama team, working alongside teachers to demonstrate and encourage the use of drama as an aide to learning. Havering, another outer London borough, also had a team and they asked if I would be Elizabeth I for their day of silver jubilee celebrations. I was accompanied by ladies in waiting and Beefeaters, all beautifully attired.
It seemed a shame to use the costume for just one day, especially as I had researched the role and now knew masses about this amazing queen. My team members agreed and we devised a drama session for junior children in which they were put into the role of members of parliament. Their job was to convince me, Elizabeth I, to get married and produce an heir. I would sail into the room with all my regalia on.
The exchange I remember most is one kid saying: “You might snuff it tomorrow and there would be no one to take over!” And I replied: “How dare you presume your monarch may cease on the morrow!”
I’m 72 now and live in supported housing for older people. I’m extremely deaf so anywhere with more than a couple of people is a complete nightmare for me. I don’t want to be in crowds of people for this jubilee – I’ll just have a quiet time.
I was a student in Birmingham in 1977. Then, as now, I had a healthy disregard for the monarchy. I was in the pub on the day with some like-minded friends and we spontaneously composed a song called Jubilee Shuffle (“Jubilee Shuffle yeah yeah / My husband and I yeah yeah / Gold-plated toilet yeah yeah …” You get the picture). The group on a neighbouring table decided we were insufficiently reverent and threw one of those big ceramic ashtrays at us, Cinzano branded. It hit one of our group on the temple, but fortunately he was not badly hurt. Happy days.
This picture is of me and two of my older sisters, Louise in the middle and Greta on the end. I am the one with her head in a drink – everyone says I haven’t changed!
I was three years old. There was a street party in the local church. I remember rosettes and homemade hats and loads of kids sitting at long tables. There were marshmallows, and bottles of pop! We never had fizzy drinks as kids; we couldn’t afford it. We were also given a souvenir coin that came in a fluffy white pouch.
It’s not a role I’d like to have, to be honest – to be Queen, being in the spotlight all the time. People think it’s an easy life. I’m not a royalist but I do think it’s quite an achievement to get that far.
My family’s not really into the royals, but for this one I have bought some bunting. I’m going to put some out, then see some friends and family, go from there. I think it’s about the tradition more than the monarchy. I expect we’re going to have a lot of fizzy pop, but not the sort we used to have as kids – some nice cava or prosecco.
In 1977, we were set a task in English class. Mrs Milm was teaching us how to write polemics, though she didn’t use that word. We called them “For and againsts” back then. This time we were asked to take a position on the royal family – are they good or bad for the country?
If I say so myself, I knocked it out of the park. The royal family earn tons of money for the country, attract foreign tourists, are supreme role models for us and other countries. (Prince Charles had just been to Ghana to spread the word.) A good thing? They are a wonderful institution. I got an A and Mrs Milm told me she didn’t think I believed a word I’d written. Mrs Milm knew me pretty well.
That year I remember watching celebrations of the jubilee on the news – street parties, kids in bin-bag races, men in union jack top hats, women with cakes, and horses. Horses galore – everywhere. None of it made sense to me. Sure, I could knock out an essay defending the royals, but watching this tripe was a different ballgame. So Her Maj been on the throne for 25 years? Hurrah. What was so clever about that? Why didn’t we get a chance to sit on it? And if we got rid of it, we could use the money saved on their ludicrous lifestyle to pay for the 30% rise in wages our firefighters were asking for.