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Thursday, 3 January, 2002, 19:02 GMT
Towns battle for Jubilee honour
The Queen's carriage arrives at St Paul's Cathedral during Silver Jubilee celebrations
The 1977 Silver Jubilee drew huge crowds
The build-up to the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations has begun as preparations get under way on a host of events to mark the occasion.

A competition to crown four towns with city status - one each in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - will be one of the key events in 2002.

But the celebrations, including street parties, royal garden parties and a UK-wide tour by the Queen are expected to involve millions of people.

And the Queen has revealed the five charities which will benefit during her Jubilee year - all close to her heart.

The actual anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne is 6 February, but most events will take place in the summer.

Jubilee Celebrations
Extra Bank Holiday
Four towns given city status
Special garden parties for Accession Day babies
Golden Jubilee tour of England, Scotland, Wales and N Ireland
New 5 coin to mark the Golden Jubilee
Classical concert in Buckingham Palace gardens
Pop concert in Buckingham Palace grounds
Jubilee church services
Beacons lit across the UK
Carnival Pageant in The Mall
In the cities event, competition is likely to be fierce and those towns that missed out in the millennium are permitted to reapply.

Applicants must display three crucial criteria, agreed by the Queen.

These are they must have "notable features, including regional or national significance", "historical - including royal - features" and a "forward-looking attitude".

They must also show a "character of their own" and a "quasi-metropolitan" position in its location.

The five chosen charities are: Barnardo's, CRUSE Bereavement Services, I CAN (national education charity for children with speech and language difficulties), the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and the Soldiers, Sailors and Air Force Association (SSAFA).

The Queen has asked that those organising celebrations include some form of donation to one or more of the nominated charities.

Benefactors are also asked to give to the British Commonwealth Ex-Services League, of which the Duke of Edinburgh is grand president.

Party for 50-year-olds

There are grants available for Jubilee-related projects and voluntary organisations are able to apply for grants of between 500 and 5,000.

Those born on the date of the Queen's accession to the throne, 6 February 1952, can apply for one of 3,500 places at two Golden Jubilee Garden Parties in London and Edinburgh, hosted by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

Window decked out for 1977 Silver Jubilee
Celebrations in 2002 are unlikely to rival the Silver Jubilee

Applicants must include a copy of their birth certificate and send their application to their local Lord Lieutenants' offices, via council offices.

Golden Jubilee parties held across the UK to mark the event are likely to be the most obvious examples of public celebration.

During the Queen's Silver Jubilee year in 1977, more that 100,000 street parties were held nationwide.

The Golden Jubilee long weekend of the festivities is scheduled for 1-4 June and is the best time to stage a street party.

Monday 3 June will be an additional Bank Holiday and the Spring Bank Holiday, which would otherwise have fallen on 27 May, has been moved to Tuesday 4 June.

Details of all the planned events are on the Buckingham Palace website, which also provides a "toolkit" for planning Jubilee events.

See also:

03 Jan 02 | England
The Queen steps out for Jubilee
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