Earlier this year Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee was celebrated, and it was obvious that she is still hugely admired, loved and respected by the vast majority of the UK population. Such was also the case in 1897 regarding her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, at the time of her Diamond Jubilee. However the manner in which these two events were celebrated locally stand in stark contrast. While many may have watched with pleasure, pride and interest the key events of our Queen’s jubilee on TV, there was little by way of active local celebration. This contrasts with the 1897 celebration for Queen Victoria, as reported in the PA on 23/6/1897:- “Abernethy loyally blossomed into a handsome display of bunting, many private houses decorating in a style quite surpassing any public rejoicing. The first event was a joint thanksgiving service at 11.30 in the Parish church, conducted by all three ministers, viz- Rev. Messrs Stevenson, Cairns and Butler. Following this service, at one o’clock a dinner was served for the aged and deserving in the Williamson Hall. Some 93 invitations were served, but only 28 had accepted the invitation to be present, the remainder of the vast majority stating that they were unable to attend; but the committee at their meeting on Monday evening decided that those who were unable to attend were to have their share sent to them after the celebrations were over. Following the dinner came the treat to the children at 3 o’clock. The children met at the Public School at 2.30, and, being all marshaled in order by their respective teachers, a march was made through the streets of the village,headed by the Marr and McNaughton Instrumental Band and two Highland pipers, the children all joining in the Queen’s Anthem, to the Williamson Hall, followed by a big crowd of the general public.
Owing to the damp and wet, tea was served in the hall. A large staff of lady waiters attended to the wants of the young people. Both old and young had an ample supply. After the inner man was supplied a march was made to the park, where games were gone through.”
Ten years earlier Victoria’s Golden Jubilee had been celebrated in a very similar manner. A Perthshire Courier article (28/6/1887) gives details of this event. It mentions that “the new flag lately presented to the Town Council by Lord Home, The Superior, with the family crest, was hung from the window of the Councilroom, while the Union Jack floated from the flagstaff on the old tower.” Again the scholars marched round the town, headed this time by the Auchter muchty Brass Band. The Town Council also joined the procession. Again games and sports were “got up for the young” in a park lent by Mr Davidson, Gattaway. Later there was dancing, which was “gone into with great zest.” At 10 o’clock a magnificent display of fireworks took place.
In the afternoon a congratulatory telegram had been sent to Lord Home, to be presented to Her Majesty in the name of the Town Council and the general community. Can we assume that, in like manner, the Community Council of this ancient Pictish capital sent QE2 a loyal e mail, text, or even a tweet?