Major Milestones

The year in 2012

In June Britain will come to a standstill to toast the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Festivities begin as early as March with the Commonwealth Day celebrations, before the Queen begins her tour of the United Kingdom, while other senior Royals embark on tours of Realm and Commonwealth countries.

Jubilee highlights include a Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Windsor Castle (10,11,13 May), a glittering Thames River Pageant (3 June), complete with a colourful 1000-boat flotilla and a floating belfry whose bells will be echoed by church bells all over London, and the evocative lighting of the Jubilee Beacons around the world.

Other countries celebrating significant milestones this year include Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic at 165, and Albania, which this year celebrates its Centenary.

Samoa in the Pacific, along with East African nations Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda all join the ranks of ‘Golden Oldies’ with 50 years of independence, as does Algeria in North Africa. Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica will also celebrate their Golden Jubilees with spectacles both in the Caribbean and with their large communities in the UK. Trinidad & Tobago has set up a Village at the Tricycle Theatre as a double celebration of the Olympics and their 50 years of Independence, while Jamaica has organised a UK-wide year-long programme, including Reggae and Gospel concerts, domino tournaments and film festivals, flag-raising ceremonies and cultural extravaganzas – as well as a Jamaican Village at the O2 Centre for the Olympics.

Lastly, Bosnia Herzegovina marks 20 years of Independence, a remarkable feat for a country that endured a bitter civil war.

Diplomatic ties between Britain and a number of countries will also be toasted, including China (40 years), Ukraine (20 years) and Moldova (20 years), while 2012 also marks the 400th anniversary of the first contact between the King of Siam (Thailand) and King James I of England.

There are also landmarks to remember in the world of literature and art – it is the 200th anniversary of the birth of writer and social reformer Charles Dickens (7 February) as well as the 150th anniversary of the birth of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt (14 July) whose epoch-setting painting of a kiss changed art forever.

This year also marks the centenary of two triumphs that ended in tragedy: the sinking of the Titanic and Captain Scott’s ill-fated journey to the South Pole.