Diamond Days: Looking back at Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee

South London turned red, white and blue as it joined the nation’s celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee during the patriotic weekend of June 2 to 5, 2012.

The extended bank holiday rolled into its last day on June 5, with the Queen’s carriage procession and service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The street party spirit was alive and well south of the river as thousands enjoyed their own community festivities and crowds braved the rain clouds along the Thames for the Jubilee pageant.

To mark the jubilee, the Queen bestowed royal borough status on Greenwich.

Amy Benard, nine, paints Anna Forser-Clarke’s face at the party in Desenfans Road, Dulwich (Picture: South London Press)

Greenwich joined an exclusive group as the fourth local authority to become a royal borough and the first new one for more than 80 years.

The new legal status was made official with a Royal Charter signed by the Queen.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson announced in January 2010 that Greenwich would receive the accolade. He said it was in recognition of the close links between Greenwich and royalty since the Middle Ages.

He said the honour was also in recognition of “the borough’s global significance as the home of the Prime Meridian, Greenwich Mean Time, and the Unesco World Heritage Site”.

Catlin Street, Bermondsey celebrate the Diamond Jubilee (Picture: South London Press)

The royal title came with a new coat of arms for the borough, which features a Tudor rose.

Greenwich has been the home of many former royal residences, including Eltham Palace, once a royal nursery for the use of Henry VII’s children.

It also has several buildings with royal status including the Old Royal Naval College, built on the site of the old Greenwich Palace where Elizabeth I, Mary I and Henry VIII were born.

The new regal status is, in effect, similar to a person being awarded an honour, but far more exclusive, since the only others members of the club are Kensington and Chelsea, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Kingston-upon-Thames.

Royal Greenwich new coat of arms (Picture: Greenwich council)

While other boroughs with royal links could potentially join royal ranks in the future, after the announcement a spokesman for the Cabinet Office said: “The Royal Household has made clear that the grant of Royal Borough status to Greenwich in 2012 will be a very rare and exceptional mark of Royal favour.” 

At the time, the council conceded that royal status would not provide any additional powers, resources or funding, but said it was a “very special honour” nonetheless, and would be used to “lever in further inward investment into the borough”.

But, the move was one of the first actions to mark the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, making it one of particular significance.

It also meant that Greenwich would be the only royal borough among the six host boroughs for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Pictured top: Catlin Street in Bermondsey (Picture: South London Press)

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