As part of the weekend of Coronation celebrations, on Sunday 7 May, 10 locations around the UK including Cambridge University Botanic Garden, as well as landmarks in Blackpool, Sheffield, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Gateshead, Cornwall and Belfast were lit up in a stunning live sequence called Lighting Up The Nation.
Billed by the BBC as ‘a truly spectacular part of the Coronation Concert … a very special moment for people all across the country to come together in celebration’, the Coronation Concert was watched by over 12 million and showcased the country’s diverse cultural heritage in music, theatre and dance, with the amazing light display as a stunning centrepiece using projections, drones, laser displays and illuminations to bring iconic locations to life.
It is a great honour to have been selected as one of 10 iconic locations to form the centrepiece of Lighting up the Nation
Beverley Glover, CUBG Director says:
“It is a great honour to have been selected as one of 10 iconic locations to form the centrepiece of Lighting up the Nation, broadcast live from Windsor Castle, and to have our Black Pine included as part of the choreographed display.”
“CUBG’s tree collection dates back to the founding of the Garden on this site and is the vision of our founder and Charles Darwin’s mentor – John Stevens Henslow. The Pinus nigra, Black Pine is one of the first Garden plantings and it is interesting because it was selected by Henslow to demonstrate how plants even within the same species can be different. Some species of Black Pine from warm climates hold their branches erect, while Black Pines from cold areas, have sloping branches to allow snow to slide off them to limit the snow load on their branches and ensure the needles are free to photosynthesise.”
Watch behind the scenes clip of the cyclists creating pedal power to light up the tree (full effect can be seen 2 minutes into the video)
Cambridge University’s green credentials highlighted in the Coronation Concert
The majestic Pinus nigra tree, which forms part of the Garden’s tree collection is located along the Garden’s Main Walk and helps form the backbone of the Heritage Landscape.
On Sunday evening the tree and surrounding landscape were seen as never before – dressed in a stunning display of 12,500 lights, powered by 24 eco-bikes, ridden by Cambridge University students, Garden staff and volunteers to create a kinetic power display to highlight the King’s commitment to green energy and conservation. The stunning light sequence was introduced by TV and film actor James Nesbitt and displayed during singer songwriter Paloma Faith’s hit song ‘Lullaby’.
The lighting on the tree was powered by a cohort of cyclists drawn from Cambridge University institutions with links to His Majesty and representing areas of the University’s work that the King has particular interest in – Cambridge Zero, the Cambridge Trust and Homerton College – as well as the Botanic Garden.
Cambridge Zero is the University’s ambitious climate change initiative, harnessing Cambridge’s global research power to advance the rapid transition to a resilient and sustainable zero carbon world. Cambridge Zero Director Professor Emily Shuckburgh is one of the world’s leading climate scientists and has dedicated her career to seeking the evidence of and finding solutions to climate change. She has just co-authored a new children’s book on climate change with His Majesty and Natural England Chair Tony Juniper – A Ladybird Book: Climate Change. Cambridge Zero also works with students to empower them to take action on Climate Change, some of those students took part in this concert performance.
His Majesty The King has been involved for many years in the work of the Cambridge Trust, established in the 1980s with the specific objective of providing scholarships to students from around the world who lacked the means to fund their studies at the University of Cambridge. As Founder Trustee, and since 2010 Patron of the Trust, the former Prince of Wales has lent his support to the Trust and to education. In 2018 a three-year programme of ‘His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales Commonwealth Scholarships’ was launched to support applicants from Commonwealth nations whose studies focused on practical themes affecting the future of those nations, such as climate change, the blue economy and sustainability. The Trust was delighted to be able to continue that work by last year joining a new initiative of climate action scholarships for students from small island nations, inspired by His Majesty and developed by the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Professor Stephen Toope.
On the King’s most recent visit to Cambridge in November 2021, as Prince of Wales, he visited Homerton College at the invitation of its new Principal, Lord Simon Woolley. Lord Woolley, when Director of Operation Black Vote, had been approached by the Prince of Wales in 2020 in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests for discussions on how to make educational pathways for young Black people in the UK, and had become a close adviser. At Homerton College, the King met young Black students and received a briefing on their experience at Cambridge, and on how the University is supporting underrepresented groups to thrive through the ‘Get In Cambridge’ campaign. His Majesty also met the leaders and some participants in the Homerton Changemakers programme and unveiled a plaque with the quotation “The diversity of our society is our greatest strength”.
On Friday 5 May, Catherine Catton BBC Head of Commissioning, Factual Entertainment & Events said: “The Lighting up the Nation sequence promises to be a truly spectacular part of the Coronation Concert. With stunning light shows illuminating some of our most iconic locations, alongside performances from James Nesbitt and Paloma Faith, this is going to be a very special moment for people all across the country to come together in celebration.”
CUBG was a ‘secret location’ that was revealed on the night, which meant that we couldn’t tell anyone about it in advance – so if you were one of the people who saw the filming being set up and asked what was going on and got a rather evasive answer, apologies, and we hope that this wonderful surprise made up for the mystery!