'Never, never can I forget this brilliant year.'
'NEVER, NEVER CAN I FORGET this brilliant year,' the Queen wrote in her journal as 1887, the year of her Golden Jubilee, came to an end, a year 'so full of marvellous kindness, loyalty & devotion of so many millions which I really could hardly have expected.' 1
She was not the only person to be surprised, since there had recently been a resurgence of criticism in the press of her continued avoidance of those appearances in public from which she still shrank; and at a Liberal parliamentary dinner a large number of the guests remained in their seats when the loyal toast was proposed, several of them not only declining to stand but even hissing.
She had at first refused to consider celebrating her fiftieth year on the throne in public, even though, apart from her grandfather, George III, only two other English monarchs, Henry III and Edward III, had reigned so long. She complained of rheumatism and backache and often felt unaccountably tired in the late afternoon. But the enthusiasm of the Prince of Wales, a master of the art of ceremony, eventually won her over, though she steadfastly refused to consider celebrating the event on the exact anniversary of her accession since that was also the day on which her uncle, William IV, had died; and she had always refused to perform any public duties which coincided with the anniversaries of the deaths of members of her family, almost all of which she remembered with distressing accuracy.
By March, preparations for the Jubilee were well in hand. Medals