Queen’s Birthday 2016

Cover of The Royal Visit, Christchurch 1963Monday 6 June is a public holiday on which New Zealand celebrates the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. 21 April was her actual birthday and she turned 90 (she was born in 1926).

Queen Elizabeth II has visited Christchurch numerous times during her reign, including visits in 1954, 1963, and for the 1974 Commonwealth Games held at her namesake sporting venue, Queen Elizabeth II Park, often referred to as QEII.

Queen Elizabeth II in Christchurch
Mr H. S. Feast, Town Clerk, being presented to the Queen in Cathedral Square, 1954. Entry in the 2014 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Kete Christchurch. CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

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All our libraries are closed on Monday 6 June 2016.

Queen’s Birthday reading

Today, Queen’s Birthday, marks the last public holiday until Labour day which this year falls on 26 October. That’s nearly 5 months (147 days, to be exact) without a long weekend…so you’d better make this one count!

As is usual on public holidays our library branches are not open… however we always have digital goodies available, so if you find yourself short some reading material, look no further than –

For more information on Queen Elizabeth II:

A Right Royal Week

9781444720396Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock recently, you’ll know that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in town last Monday. I joined the throng at Latimer Square with high hopes and low expectations. You see, I’ve been to Royal Walkabouts three times before and come “this close” to a conversation with Royalty. “Maybe this will be the day!” thought I, “But, lets face it, it probably won’t be.”

Back in’77, when I was just a toddler, my family went along to the Silver Jubilee Walkabout. The Queen stopped to speak my sister, telling her what a pretty dress she was wearing. My sister, with the honesty of a four-year-old, replied “It’s my nightie!” (She had flatly refused to get dressed that morning).

I slept through the whole thing.

1929049935Fast forward to 1981. Charles and Diana were engaged, and I thought Lady Di was like Cinderella and Princess Aurora all rolled into one. I treasured my scrapbooks full of carefully clipped pictures of her. The highlight of my childhood was getting to watch The Royal Wedding at our neighbour’s across the street – they had a colour TV! Oh, the dresses! The beautiful horses! The fancy uniforms! I loved it all (Except the Queen Mum’s outfit. I wasn’t impressed. I thought she had some crazy green punk-rock hairdo. Didn’t realize that fluffy nonsense on her head was actually a hat!)

Imagine my excitement when Charles and Diana came to Christchurch in’83. We all headed off for the Walkabout. I was beside myself! My sister didn’t really care. She went along with a “whatever” pre-teen attitude. In fact she was so bored by it all that she brought a book. I had a fantastic spot right at the front, Diana was walking on my side of the street, I was actually going to see her in person! Then, when she was just moments away from me, she swapped sides, and Charles was walking towards me instead. And he walked up to my sister, noticed the book in her hand (it was probably a Jinny and Shantih or something by Christine Pullein-Thompson) and asked her if she rode. They had a whole conversation about horses and show jumping… And once again, I missed out.

While I’m no longer that star struck little girl, I thought it would be pretty neat to see William and Kate, and since Monday was my day off anyway, why not? Miss Missy and I managed to find ourselves a pretty good spot, and once again I waited for the chance to see the Royals. We cought a glimpse of them as they came out of the Cathedral, the crowd was shouting, flags were waving, everyone was craning to see, people were leaning so far over the fence they were practically planking on it. The police officers were literally holding the fence up against the crush of the crowd as Kate was coming slowly closer and closer down our side of Latimer Square. I managed to get some lovely pictures of her, and shook her hand (yes, I have washed it, since) … kateBut no, I didn’t talk to her. The girl standing right beside me though, Kate asked her all sorts of questions. Yip, once again I was “this close!”

9781846073946If that isn’t enough Royalty for you, today is the Queen’s birthday. No, not the holiday, her actual birthday.

Have you ever wondered why Queen’s Birthday weekend is in June when her birthday is in April? Well it turns out it is all because George VI’s birthday was 14 December. I guess everyone thought that was a silly day to have a holiday, so they decided to have the first Monday in June off instead, and when Elizabeth became Queen, I guess everyone was so used to it, they figured why change it? Her Majesty “was graciously pleased” to let us all have a day off in June in honour of her birthday.

I’ve put together a list of my picks from our catalogue in honour of Her Majesty’s big day. And this year we even get to have a day off anyway for Easter.


One out of the box

Cover: Her MajestyReally out of the box. Kind colleagues who know that I hold Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in very high esteem alerted me to the arrival of Her Majesty.

It’s a book to gladden the hearts of book lovers who believe that reading a book on a device is all very well, but that nothing can match turning the paper pages of a behemoth.

Her Majesty tells the story of QEII’s  reign, mostly in very large and very beautiful photographs, but with some text. And it came in a  dull gold box with its very own plastic handle. Classy.

The box and the book have parted ways, but  really the box is a minor detail, even if it did have Her Majesty printed on the side. Packaging is all very well, but the book is the main thing here. It’s definitely for more than staunch (and strong) Royalists.

The sheer size and quality of the photographs make it an object of beauty worthy of a good long look. Getting it home may be another matter!

The Diamond Jubilee publishing frenzy

Scrolling through channels on TV last night I was rather alarmed to come across Grace Jones standing on stage at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert singing while gyrating with a hula hoop. I can’t imagine what the Queen would have thought and I don’t imagine she was amused, but if the singing quality of Paul McCartney and Elton John were anything to go by, I really don’t blame her for wearing her bright yellow earplugs.

It was at this point that I began to wonder if everyone had gone a bit overboard with this Diamond Jubilee business, and not to be outdone the publishing industry has published a multitude of new titles about the Queen and her 60 year reign. You will either be delighted or appalled by the fact that the library has bought many of them.

One of these books has taken my fancy, and although I have never had much interest in the Queen I hadn’t realised that the she had been such a fashion setter. During the 1950s especially, she turned out in some rather splendid outfits as seen in Elizabeth: reigning in style.  Thankfully the monochrome coat/shoes/bag/hat/gloves routine didn’t appear until later.

Here is a list of the other titles that the Library has recently purchased.

Long to reign over us

Book cover: Elizabeth, her life, our times60 years. 12 British Prime Ministers, starting with Winston Churchill.  35 Royal Variety Performances. Countless hands shaken and shoulders tapped with swords. I think we can agree Queen Elizabeth II has performed some onerous duties in an exemplary fashion.

She will never write an autobiography (much to my disappointment – what tales that woman must have to tell), but her well-documented life is featuring in some lovely books in her Diamond Jubilee year.

I’m particularly looking forward to Elizabeth: her life, our times – it even includes Her Majesty’s Christmas messages through the ages. If you dozed off during any in the last 60 years, here’s your chance to catch up.

Queenly things – Queen’s Birthday

CoverMonday 7 June is a holiday on which New Zealand celebrates the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. 21 April was her actual birthday and she turned 84 (she was born in 1926).

Here’s some things regal:

Queen’s Birthday honours are traditionally bestowed over the long weekend.

And other queenly things: