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‘Partying with penguins’: joy as Falklands town wins coveted city status to mark the Queen’s jubilee

With an official population of just 2,458, Stanley became one of the world’s smallest cities last week after it was granted the status to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

But its celebrations promise to be anything but micro, according to the residents of the Falkland Islands capital.

The islands’ government said it would be “partying with the penguins” following the news, tweeting that the South Atlantic archipelago was “over the moon”.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Roberts, a seventh-generation Falkland Islander and deputy editor of Stanley-based Penguin News, told the Observer that the mood in the new city was buoyant. “There’s a lot of excitement about it,” he said, adding that some had taken Friday afternoon off work to prepare celebrations.

It would no doubt heighten the mood at the planned annual May ball, he said, which he described as “a mixture between a prom and a cèilidh”, and all the platinum jubilee celebrations. “Everyone’s in high spirits. So I’m sure that will bleed into the nightlife and celebrations going on in Stanley at the moment.”

Christ Church cathedral and the whalebone arch in Stanley, Falkland Islands
Christ Church cathedral and the whalebone arch in Stanley, Falkland Islands. Photograph: John Turner Photography/Alamy

However, he said it was “unfortunate timing” that the landmark announcement’s embargo meant that they were unable to include it in Friday’s paper. But he said the weekly publication, the only newspaper produced in the Falkland Islands, would simply wait to cover it next week.

Born and raised in Stanley, leaving only to go to college and university in the UK before returning to work as a journalist, he said life in Stanley is “brilliant” and that the new city is “booming” at the moment with new businesses and a growing population. Meanwhile, dolphins play in the harbour and there’s a colony of penguins nearby. “So often people only think of the Falklands as 1982. But in the 40 years since, Stanley has grown.”

Traighana Smith, news editor of Falklands Radio, said everybody was “absolutely delighted”. But with commemorations for the 40th anniversary of the Falklands war under way, she predicted most people would hold off their celebrations until the platinum jubilee weekend.

Smith, who moved to Stanley six years ago from Scotland, said: “It’s going to be a bit bizarre calling it the city of Stanley. I’m not sure how long that will take to take off.”

In many ways, she said Stanley was an “average small town”. But with wildlife including sea lions, albatross, penguins, dolphins and penguins, it certainly has unique attributes. “There are not many cities that you would be able to escape into open countryside in literally the 30 seconds I think it takes to drive to the city limits,” she said.

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