WILLIAMSBURG — The Wren Building came to life with lights and live music at Thursday evening’s Queen’s Jubilee Beacon Lighting Ceremony.
Guests gathered at the front of the College of William & Mary’s (W&M) oldest building to kick off the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebration. The occasion marked Queen Elizabeth’s 70th year as British monarch and head of the commonwealth.
“We’re here because this is a special place,” said W&M Professor Karen Locke as she spoke to the gathered crowd. “William & Mary was born and chartered in Great Britain but nurtured in this Commonwealth. William & Mary’s progress, endeavor, and even its name obviously bare the mark of the Queen’s predecessors. The building is attributed to Sir Christopher Wren. That’s why we call it the Wren building. A highly acclaimed English Architect. Those of you who have traveled to London, you will see echos of the domed Saint Pauls Cathedral there.”
Elizebeth II first visited the Wren building in 1957, and that visit marked the 350th Anniversary of the landing at Jamestown. It wouldn’t be until 2007, 50 years later, that the Queen made a second visit to the Historic Triangle. Her second visit coincided with the 400th Anniversary.
“The Jubilee is a celebration. On its surface, it’s a celebration of a person but at its core and at its heart it’s more,” said Locke. “It’s a celebration of a life of steadiness and service. It’s a call to us to act together with a higher purpose. It’s also a moment to celebrate and have fun and enjoy what we have made of our lives to this point.”
Mayor of the City of Williamsburg Douglas “Doug” Pons along with Virginia State Delegate Amanda Batten read proclamations in recognition of the Platinum Jubilee Ceremony. Batten’s proclamation was read on behalf of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin.
The event was filled with musical performances from over 40 Bagpipers, The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums, and other festivities.
“Queen Elizabeth II has served her country as the longest-reigning monarch for the last 70 years and will commemorate her platinum Jubilee on June 2,” said Mayor Pons concluding his proclamation. “And now, therefore, I, Douglas Pons, Mayor of the City of Williamsburg, recognize the global celebration of the Queens Platinum Jubilee with the lighting of the beacons on the eve of June 2, 2022.”
The celebration was a part of a larger international celebration. Thousands of lighting ceremonies took place in the U.K. and around the world to launch the official program launched by Buckingham Palace for the Jubilee Weekend.
The Williamsburg event was organized by the local arts nonprofit CultureFix, and it was one of the few recognized beacon lighting events that took place in North America.