THERE were muted celebrations in York in February 1977 to mark 25 years since the Queen’s accession to the throne.

The Band of the King’s Division Depot played in Tower Gardens, before marching via Clifford Street, Coney Street and Lendal to Museum Gardens.

There, a troop from Leeds University Officers’ Training Corps fired a 21-gun salute. Sadly, a misfire jammed one of the guns being used, so the salute had to be completed with two guns.

“It was a technical misfire,” said Captain Peter Jesty, who commanding the troop which fired the salute. “This is something which happens occasionally.”

In Hovingham, villagers gathered with Sir Marcus and Lady Worsley to plant eight trees to commemorate the Queen’s accession. Trees were also planted at Clifton Green in York, and the Queen’s 25 years on the throne were celebrated in a leader comment, which we reproduce on the left.

“Whatever may have failed in Britain in the last 25 years, the monarchy has been a success: so we are happy to salute the Queen on the completion of her quarter century as head of state.”

Other issues were making the headlines that day, however: the murder of British priests in Rhodesia: a row over former Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson’s resignation honours list; and more locally, a warning that North Yorkshire County Council was likely to cut subsidies for bus services as part of an economy drive.

Things were very different four months later when The Queen visited York in her Silver Jubilee year as part of her Jubilee tour.

“Royal walkabout in York thrills crowds” said the banner headline across two broadsheet pages of the Yorkshire Evening Press.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived at Micklegate in the royal car from the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate.

They were greeted by a fanfare from army trumpeters standing on the city walls, and welcomed at Micklegate Bar by the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, the Marquess of Normanby, and by the Lord Mayor of York Coun Thomas Hibbert and the Sheriff, Coun Malcolm Heppell.

There then followed a 12-minute ‘walkabout’ along Micklegate itself, during which the Queen and Prince Philip stopped frequently to chat to the crowds, accepting gifts of flowers and, at one point, a crayon drawing pressed into the Queen’s hand by a child who had popped under the restraining rope.

The Royal car was waiting for the couple at the junction with Trinity Lane: and holding the door open for the Queen was 14-year-old Angela Jowitt, a St John Ambulance nursing cadet and Ashfield Secondary Modern School pupil.

“She asked me if I enjoyed my ambulance work and I said, ‘Yes, very much, ma’am’,” said Angela.

Walkabout over, the royal car drove off; the next leg of the visit was to Hull.

“Eeh!, wasn’t it lovely” said a woman standing in the crowd as the car drove away.

• Yorkshire Evening Press leader column of Monday February 7, 1977, celebrating the Queen’s Silver Jubilee...

Whatever may have failed in Britain in the last 25 years, the monarchy has been a success: so we are happy to salute the Queen on the completion of her quarter-century as head of state.

She has helped to give continuity and glamour to the nation’s story-line in years when it could easily have been fractured by change. She has done this, one suspects, at considerable personal cost – not just long hours of work and of public appearances, but the merging of her own personality into that required by her office.

The Queen’s family may risk controversy, and thereby help to keep the monarchy interesting. The Queen herself must never be controversial.

As a result, the monarchy is under less challenge than almost any other British institution. A royal visit is an occasion that every town looks forward to.

What of Britain in those 25 years? The high hopes of a new Elizabethan age have not been realised. It was not sufficiently appreciated in 1952-3 what a difference the withdrawal from India, and the loss of the Indian Army, had made to Britain’s position in the world.

Nor was it sufficiently appreciated that Britain’s achievements in industrial enterprise and invention, so recently underlined by radar, the Spitfire fighter and the Dambusters of the war, were flagging dangerously in the peace.

However, a puzzled nation has tended to overlook what has been achieved in the past 25 years – for example, some of the world’s best television, the liveliness of the British theatre and of publishing, the enrichment of foreign travel.

Britain under Elizabeth II may not be great in the old sense. But, to live in, it remains the greatest country of all.