Platinum Jubilee: Queen’s ‘best-kept secret’ has been in London since 1977

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THE QUEEN’S “best-kept secret” has been in London since 1977, a royal historian has told Express.co.uk.

Queen Elizabeth II, 95, will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee next year, commemorating her 70th year on the throne. The monarch will be the first in British royal history to reach the milestone. A programme of exciting celebrations have been planned across the UK, including an extended bank holiday from June 2-5. Hugo Vickers, a royal historian and biographer, was involved in planning the Queen’s silver, golden and diamond jubilees.

The author, who has profiled 20th Century figures including the Queen Mother, said he had been “quite active in promoting” the Platinum Jubilee.

Speaking to Express.co.uk ahead of next year’s historic jubilee, the historian looked back at previous celebrations.

Mr Vickers said the Silver Jubilee Walkway, which marked the 25th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne, remains one of the greatest tributes to the monarch.

He said: “It’s one of the best-kept secrets of London – it’s been there since 1977.

“A man called Max Nicholson who was a very well-known environmentalist wanted to open up the South Bank.

Platinum Jubilee: Queen’s ‘best-kept secret’ has been in London since 1977

Platinum Jubilee: Queen’s ‘best-kept secret’ has been in London since 1977 (Image: GETTY)

Queen: With Hugo Vickers near Buckingham Palace

Queen: With Hugo Vickers near Buckingham Palace (Image: GETTY)

“So, he created an urban trail. It was the first urban trail ever and he’d done quite a lot of these things in the countryside and quite a lot of country walks.

“He set up a walk, it started at Leicester Square and it went through Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square, down to Lambeth bridge and across and then all the way down the South Bank right up to Tower Bridge and back across again.

“In those days, in 1977, you couldn’t actually walk along the South Bank at all; it was all warehouses. There were the cranes dipping for [Winston] Churchill’s funeral. The South Bank was completely inaccessible.

“So, by calling it the Silver Jubilee Walkway and getting the Queen to open it on June 9, 1977 – the night of the great firework display – it then gradually inched its way along the South Bank.

Queen: At Golden Jubillee parade

Queen: At Golden Jubillee parade (Image: GETTY)

From the 1980s onwards, panoramic panels were also added to the walkway, the embankment and bridges over the River Thames.

The panels help the public identify key buildings in London’s famous skyline.

They have been unveiled by a string of big names, including the Queen, Prince Charles, the Duke of Gloucester and South Africa’s former President Nelson Mandela.

Mr Vickers said the walkway is an example of a large public project made possible because of the Queen’s jubilee.

Queen: Celebrates Diamond Jubilee in the North

Queen: Celebrates Diamond Jubilee in the North (Image: GETTY)

He said: “They were always very happy to pave a walk going along the side of the river.

“The South Bank is fantastic, it’s vibrant, it’s full of life, there are lots of people there.

“It took 17 years to finish that. It was finished in 1994 and that was an environmental exercise to celebrate the Silver Jubilee.

“In other words, there were going to be lots of fireworks and street parties and all sorts of things, but they wanted to do something permanent in memory of that.”

The extended bank holiday for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year will kick off with the Trooping the Colour parade.

Platinum Jubilee beacons will also be lit throughout the UK, as well as in the capital city of every Commonwealth country.

A service will be held for the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral, while she will also attend the Epsom Derby.

The BBC will host a special live concert from Buckingham Palace, which is set to feature some of the “world’s biggest entertainment stars”.

Source: EXPRESS CO UK

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