The Queen has begun her platinum jubilee year, marking a 70-year reign that now makes her the longest-ruling monarch in British and Commonwealth history.
King George VI died on the morning of Feb. 6, 1952 while Princess Elizabeth was in Kenya. She acceded to the throne immediately upon his death, though did not enjoy an official coronation until the following year.
“As I look ahead with a sense of hope and optimism to the year of my Platinum Jubilee, I am reminded of how much we can be thankful for,” the Queen said in a statement.
She said she has been fortunate to have had the loving support of family, and was blessed that in Prince Philip she had a partner willing to carry out the role of consort until his death last year.
“And when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service,” she wrote.
Canada Post has unveiled a new stamp to commemorate the platinum jubilee.
As Canada’s head of state, the Queen has been featured on more than 70 Canadian stamps that have been issued for royal visits, historical events and her previous silver, golden and diamond jubilees.
The new stamp features the Royal Mail’s profile of the Queen which was sculpted by Arnold Machin, and will be available at post offices starting Monday.
Governor General Mary Simon also issued a statement to congratulate the Queen on the occasion.
She said for the past 70 years, the Queen “has been a reassuring and constant figure of compassion and poise.”
“Growing up in Northern Quebec, my grandmother would show us pictures of the Queen,” Simon said. “Her majesty was revered in the Arctic, since the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples is considered sacred.”
She said people in communities coast to coast are marking the jubilee by paying tribute to the only monarch many have ever known.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also offered congratulations.
“This is the first time since Confederation that Canadians can celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of their Sovereign. This historic milestone invites us to pay tribute to Her Majesty’s lifetime of committed service to Canada, the Commonwealth, and its citizens,” Trudeau said in a statement.
He said the Government of Canada will host a range of activities throughout the year and support community projects and initiatives across the country.
In Halifax, the start of the platinum jubilee year was marked with a flag-raising ceremony outside of Government House Sunday morning.
The ceremony included members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP.
Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc said the coming year is a time to honour Nova Scotians who have served their communities and the province.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey attended a flag-raising ceremony at Confederation Building in St. John’s.
“We are fortunate to witness history today, and on behalf of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, I congratulate Her Majesty on this remarkable achievement,” he said. “For 70 years, she has exemplified the true meaning of service to Canadians, with steadfast purpose and dedication.”
– By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press