Queen 'to save jubilee' with tour of Britain

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The Independent Online

The Prime Minister will seek to prevent the Queen's golden jubilee year becoming a flop by announcing plans tomorrow for her to tour the nation.

The Prime Minister will seek to prevent the Queen's golden jubilee year becoming a flop by announcing plans tomorrow for her to tour the nation.

Amid growing concern over public indifference towards the 50th anniversary celebrations, government sources confirmed Tony Blair would release details of the summer tour.

The Queen is expected to start by visiting Cornwall in May and will finish in Lancashire in August after the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. She is also likely to visit Northern Ireland to ensure the entire nation is involved in the celebrations.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman denied the announcement of the tour had been brought forward because of public apathy.

He said there were more than 120 days to go, and planning for the silver jubilee in 1977, which included thousands of street parties, did not begin until the Easter. The spokesman added: "The Prime Minister is firmly of the belief that the golden jubilee will be a great success."

More than 23,000 requests have been received by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for information packs on how to throw a street party. But only about 300 applications to hold one are thought to have been lodged so far. About 12,000 were held in 1977.

Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, who is in charge of planning the celebrations, has been urging local authorities to waive licence fees for public events, to encourage street parties.

A spokeswoman said there had been a "very positive" response. "Some local authorities might waive fees or be sympathetic because street parties are very different to massive events like carnivals.

"There are basic things that people have to have, like liability insurance, but we would like local authorities to make it as cost effective as possible," she said.

One survey by a Sunday newspaper found that 49 of 130 councils questioned were not planning any special events to mark the occasion. Some authorities are threatening to charge residents for imposing traffic restrictions.

Nationally, there are plans for two giant concerts to be held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. The BBC, which is organising the musical tributes, has been approaching the biggest names in British rock and pop history, from Sir Paul McCartney to Mick Jagger, Phil Collins and Sir Elton John, for a pop concert on 3 June. A similar array of stars is being lined up for a classical concert two days earlier. A BBC spokeswoman said: "The idea is to celebrate the huge success of British music during the Queen's reign."

About 12,000 tickets will be available for each event and will be awarded by public ballot.

Among events that have been announced so far, perhaps the most important is an extended holiday weekend from 1-4 June. People born on 6 February 1952, the date of the Queen's accession to the throne, will be invited to special parties in London and Edinburgh. A special golden jubilee memorial medal will be awarded to members of the emergency services.

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