– Elizabeth II on the balcony to celebrate her historic platinum anniversary
The world has its eyes on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as Elizabeth II opens the celebrations of her 70th jubilee on Thursday, an unprecedented longevity being celebrated in a period of transition for the monarchy.
Pennants, flags and giant portraits were hung in the streets of Britain and the royal family pitched up in London to get a front row seat at the platinum jubilee of the world’s most famous monarch, whose health is deteriorating today.
In a country that has been torn apart by Brexit for several years, has been hit hard by Covid-19 and its strict lockdowns and is currently experiencing rising prices, these four days offer a welcome respite.
“I hope that the next few days will be an opportunity to look back on all that has been achieved over the past 70 years, while looking to the future with confidence and enthusiasm,” the 96-year-old Sovereign said in a written statement . Head of state of 15 kingdoms, from Great Britain to Canada to New Zealand.
Never before has a British sovereign ruled for so long. Hardly anyone else will achieve such longevity: Crown Prince Charles is 73 years old, his son William will soon be 40 years old.
The celebrations open an extended weekend of parades, folk festivals and concerts, beginning on Thursday with the traditional annual military parade of the Salute to the Colors, which Charles will inspect before a flight as his mother once did on horseback.
The monarch is set to make two brief appearances on one of the world’s most famous balconies, where the British royal family has marked major events since the 19th century.
At his side, the family will be limited to members with official functions and their children. So leave Prince Harry and Meghan, who will join the parade from a different building on their first return to the UK together since their sensational departure in California in 2020. Also missing is Prince Andrew, who paid millions of dollars to put an end to a sexual assault complaint.
Growing role for Charles
Confirmed by the palace on Wednesday evening, the appearances of Elizabeth II, which have become rare, are eagerly awaited. Because her health is worrying: since a night in the hospital in October, she has canceled almost all of her official appearances, replaced by Charles, including for the first time in May for the throne speech in Parliament.
Being frail, she finds it difficult to walk and relies on a cane. The one who, at the age of 21, very religious, promised to devote her “whole life” to the service of the British, however, shows no desire to abdicate. She has made several surprising appearances lately, smiling and relaxed, notably at the famous horticultural exhibition at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, in an electric cart.
In this end-of-regency atmosphere, the monarchy has experienced several crises in recent years and is facing growing criticism of the British Empire’s slave past, particularly in the former colonies. After Barbados last year, Jamaica signaled that it wants to cut the cord with the crown to become a republic.
In the UK, the Queen remains very popular with 75% positive opinion according to the YouGov Institute, but her heir Charles is much less appreciated (50%). According to YouGov, 62% of Brits want the monarchy to continue, but 18-24 year olds are split (33% for, 31% against). And just 39% of Brits believe the institution will still be around 100 years from now.
In this time of questioning, the Jubilee celebrations bring a parenthesis centered on the Queen’s personality, which intends to mark her presence. After the Buckingham Balcony, she will attend a ceremony later this evening, with illuminations of Windsor Castle on the outskirts of London, where she now resides.
A mass will be held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on Friday, this time with the whole family including Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, as well as Prince Andrew. However, on Saturday, despite her passion for these horse races, the Queen will miss the prestigious Epsom Derby, according to the press.
In the evening there will be a big concert at Buckingham Palace – which the Queen is supposed to watch on TV – with 22,000 people and headliners Alicia Keys, Queen + Adam Lambert, Diana Ross.
10,000 people parade through central London on Sunday. Above all, millions of Britons will attend thousands of neighborhood lunches and street parties, rare moments of communion to pay homage to a sovereign who has stood steadfast through times and crises.