What do you get someone who’s been on the throne for 60 years, has palaces and castles filled with priceless treasures and who has dedicated her life to service? Commonwealth leaders wisely avoided a silver tea set and instead opted to create the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. Along with partner charities and organizations, it promises to deliver “iconic projects” that are “a fitting and enduring tribute to Her Majesty The Queen.” Its “investments aim to make a real and enduring impact on the lives of those who live within the Commonwealth, across all generations and geographical boundaries.” The focus, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper, will be on “combatting curable diseases and promoting education and culture.”
On April 30, Harper appointed former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien as Canada’s representative to the trust. It’s a logical move—indeed, virtually an inevitable one. “His relationship with Her Majesty, which spans over 40 years, includes six official royal tours he hosted during his time as prime minister,” Harper notes. The Queen even personally appointed Chrétien to the Order of Merit—an exclusive club whose members have “rendered exceptionally meritorious services in our Crown,” as the royal website explains. (Past members included Florence Nightingale, Augustus John and Graham Greene.) The Governor General applauded the appointment, noting “The warm relationship he developed with Her Majesty during his long and distinguished career, paired with his desire for a better country, will serve him well in supporting the work of the Diamond Jubilee Trust.” Who else could have brought those credentials to the table?
Interestingly, this isn’t the Queen’s first jubilee trust. Back in 1977, the Silver Jubilee Trust was created to focus “on raising funds to support young people and, in particular, on encouraging and helping young people to serve others of all ages in the community.” It raised the equivalent of $30 million and has subsequently given away nearly $130 million, funding registered charities throughout the Commonwealth “that enable and encourage young people to help others in their local communities.” It wasn’t meant to last forever. In fact its trustees “have agreed that it is appropriate that the Silver Jubilee fund should be spent in full during the Queen’s reign. As a result, over the next few years, the trust will increase the amount it gives away annually, along with number of beneficiaries that it supports.”
When Commonwealth leaders established the newest jubilee trust at their 2011 meeting, they set an even shorter lifespan. It will disperse all its moneys in just five years. Time enough for the Queen, and the Commonwealth, to see the fruits of all that labour.