Starting with beacon lightings across the area on Thursday evening, official celebrations started at the War Memorial on Friday, June 3 at lunchtime, where an estimated 10,000 lined the streets of the royal town to mark the occasion.
The uniformed ranks of cadets, veterans and the thousands of civilian spectators in front of the War Memorial and Town Hall were addressed by Tunbridge Wells Mayor Cllr Godfrey Bland and Vice Lord Lieutenant of Kent Brigadier Trevor Minter.
The Lieutenancy of Kent is the official representative of the Queen in the county of Kent, an office dating from Tudor times.
Attending in uniform were the Tunbridge Wells Sea Cadets, TS Brilliant and the 129 (Tunbridge Wells) Squadron Air Training Corps, representatives of 579 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment, the Army Cadet Force and The Skinners’ School and Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School CCFs.
Veterans were also seated next to the podium, wearing their medals.
Following the singing of ‘God save the Queen’, the mood was lightened with a cheer, as all of the uniformed personnel participated in three hats-off hurrahs for the monarch.
Although the military personnel and bands led the official parade onward – through Monson Road, Calverley Road and Bayhall Road to Dunorlan Park – the mood became less martial and more carnival, with costumes, flags and groups galore.
At Dunorlan Park, the Big Jubilee Lunch filled the Events Field, with stalls and stages lining up to entertain, feed, inform and celebrate.
Royal Tunbridge Wells Orpheus Male Voice Choir sang some of the Queen’s favourite classical pieces for the crowd, while the car show showcased seven decades’ worth of vehicles from The Queen’s reign – including the Rolls-Royce used in the Netflix show ‘The Crown’.
Training went on, too – the Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells Community First Responders trained 114 people in CPR during the day.
Mingling with the crowds, on his way to other events across his constituency, the MP for Tunbridge Wells, Greg Clark, tweeted: “Such wonderful celebrations of #platinumjubilee nationally and locally throughout the last 4 days.
“Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make them so successful.
“Respect and gratitude for Her Majesty’s 70 years of dedicated service unites us all.”
The official event was a collaboration between Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and the local branches of The Round Table, Rotary Club, Masons, Sea Cadets, and was sponsored by G. Collins & Sons, Thompson Snell & Passmore and Berkeley Homes.
Official celebrations continued on the Sunday with a celebration at the church of St Thomas, Southborough, in Pennington Road. Among the activities on offer was crown-craft – for aspiring monarch-makers.
Across the town, there were parties and events taking place, from neighbourhood get-togethers in parks and fields and closed roads, to Saturday’s Cake-Off event in The Pantiles’ historic pedestrian promenade – won by the Taste Wells café in Royal Victoria Place, with its independent supplier Chef’s Pantry.
The winning ‘Elizabeth sponge’ consisted of vanilla sponge, jam and buttercream filling and rosewater icing with edible rose petals, Taste Wells’ founder Sarah Betts said.
“We supplied one entry cake and four cakes in traybake form, but they ran out very quickly – within an hour all the cake samples were gone.”
Voting was close, and The Zero Waste Company’s Pimms and orange cake lost by just one vote, organisers RTW Together said.
The historic King Charles the Martyr church was celebrating the Queen’s 70 years with floral displays symbolising aspects of her reign, which was followed by a ‘Buckingham Palace’ black-tie garden party at the Vicarage – a return to the pomp and circumstance of pre-pandemic social life.