With Queen Victoria being the only other British Monarch to reign for more than 60 years (63 years and 7 months) the recent Diamond Jubilee was a great celebration.
When Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne upon the death of her father, King George VI, on 6th February 1952 and crowned as Queen on 2nd June 1953 commercial television did not exist. In fact it was to be another 2 years before ITV started transmitting in London on 22nd September 1955. When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned it was the first time that a Monarch’s coronation was televised live. 20 million people watched the coronation with friends and family huddled around a small television set, with 1 million sets purchased specifically for the event. When the Queen had been on the throne for just 4 years (1956) only 36.5% of all homes had a TV set compared to the 96.7% of homes today.
During the Queen’s reign television has transformed from black and white transmission, to colour and now high definition and 3D. She has seen the launch of different platforms for viewing – digital satellite, digital cable and digital terrestrial and of course the newest forms of internet connected TV sets and games consoles such as Xbox and PS3. When Queen Elizabeth II commenced her reign there was just 1 channel available (BBC) which broadcast for just 50 hours a week; today BARB reports on just under 300 channels, the majority broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The main events connected with the Diamond Jubilee weekend at the beginning of June prompted high viewing levels, as shown in the chart below.
The Thames Pageant, ‘Flotilla’, was shown across BBC1, BBC News and Sky News generating an average viewing audience of 11.2 million people. It had a combined reach of 36.2% of individuals 4+.
The concert at the Palace on Monday 4th June (shown on BBC1 SD +HD) was watched by an average 15.3 million people (just under 3 million more than the Golden Jubilee concert on 3rd June 2002, averaging 12.5 million). The Service of Thanksgiving on Tuesday 5th June, shown across BBC1, ITV1/+1, BBC News and Sky News, was watched by an average 6.6m individuals (less than the 9.0m who watched the Service of Thanksgiving back on 4th June 2002). The state procession, covered by the same channels, averaged 8.7 million individuals. Combined reach was 24.6%. For the 2002 Golden Jubilee the state procession took place before the Service of Thanksgiving and was watched by 8.0 million people.