JANUARY 6 2010 16:18h
Britons will get an extra public holiday in 2012 to toast 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, a minister said on Tuesday.
LONDON, January 5, 2010 (AFP) - Britons will get an extra public holiday in 2012 to toast 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, a minister said on Tuesday.
"I know the entire country will want to pay their tributes to Her Majesty and to look back with pride and great affection at the many things she has achieved during her reign," said Business Minister Peter Mandelson.
The extra holiday is on Tuesday, June 5 and gives Britons the chance to join in what will be spectacular celebrations marking six decades since the queen's accession to the throne in 1952, a landmark known as the Diamond Jubilee.
The queen, who will turn 86 in 2012, would be only the second British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. The first was Queen Victoria in 1897.
An existing public holiday will also be moved to Monday, June 4, giving Britons a four-day break to celebrate the queen's 60 years on the throne.
"The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II will be a truly historic occasion," said Mandelson as he made the announcement in the upper house of Britain's parliament.
A host of events are expected to bring the country to a standstill in the queen's honour, just weeks before the start of the London Olympics. A parade and rock concert are believed to be among events that will be staged.
But Republic, a group which campaigns for the monarchy to be abolished, was swift to criticise the plans for taxpayer-funded celebrations and warned it would use the opportunity to make the case for an elected head of state.
"Spending taxpayers' money on celebrating a lack of democracy is utterly absurd," spokesman Graham Smith said.
"What Britain needs is a celebration of democracy, starting with major reform that puts power in the hands of the people."