Last Updated: Wed May 30, 2012 17:09 pm (KSA) 14:09 pm (GMT)

The Diamond Jubilee: Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years of symbolic reign

Britain celebrates the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years of reign, in June. (File photo)
Britain celebrates the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years of reign, in June. (File photo)

As Britain celebrates the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee in June, the 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign will be revisited and examined in documentaries to be broadcast on Al Arabiya next week.

With extravagant festivities underway across Britain, the programs will feature previously unpublished archival footage to revisit important advances across the country’s economic, social, cultural and artistic planes over the past six decades.

The first documentary titled “Ballad of a Queen,” to be broadcast in two parts on May 31 and June 1 in Arabic at 20:00 GMT, will be based on archival footage and exclusive interviews. It will include analysis from leading politicians, musicians Paul McCartney and Keith Richards and writers Martin Amis, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie, among a host of other prominent figures in British society.

The second program, titled “The Queen and her Prime Ministers” and to be broadcast also in the Arabic language on June 8 at 20:00 GMT, will explore how the Queen has accompanied twelve prime ministers through their terms of office, despite having no direct political influence into their governance.

As head of state of the United Kingdom, the monarchy symbolizes a power structure nearly a thousand years old.

Queen Elizabeth shook hands with President Eisenhower in 1957 and President Obama in 2011, discussed state secrets with British leaders Churchill and Blair, marveled at the first flickering black and white television images, and saw the arrival of the iPad.

Although the monarch has less than four years to go to become the longest serving British monarch, Queen Elizabeth trails Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej as the longest-serving living head of state.

Queen Victoria also made it to 60 years in 1897, although the vast British Empire she reigned over at that time has all but vanished and royalty has become a largely symbolic institution with few real powers.

But despite her age, courtiers and many commentators believe that 86-year-old Elizabeth remains an important figurehead in Britain and beyond, a symbol of sovereignty and stability.

(Written by Eman El-Shenawi)

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