Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee: Day 1


Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee: Day 1

LONDON (AP) – Four days of celebrations honoring Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th accession to the throne began Thursday with a depiction of British military traditions spanning from the days of horses and guns to the jet age.

Formal celebrations of the platinum jubilee began with Trooping the Color, an annual military revue that has marked the sovereign’s official birthday since 1760. The Queen greeted them on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and joined the working members of her family for a military flyby.

Thousands of people, some camped overnight, lined the parade route – many wearing Union Jack flags, party hats or plastic tiaras. Carly Martin, who took an overnight bus from south London with her daughter, said she came “to make memories”.

“You’ll never see that again in your life,” she said. “At least not in mine, maybe not in my daughter’s. … 70 years – that’s all I’ve ever known.”

The 96-year-old Queen is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the first to reach the milestone of seven decades on the throne. Elizabeth smiled widely as she spoke to her great-grandchildren on Thursday and looked up as the British military plane roared over the palace. The six-minute ad featured Typhoon jets flying in a formation that spelled out the number “70.”

The anniversary will be celebrated with a four-day holiday weekend. Celebrations of Elizabeth’s reign include a thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on Friday, a concert at Buckingham Palace on Saturday and a pageant featuring thousands of performers drawn by schools and community groups across the country on Sunday. Thousands of street parties are planned across the country, repeating a tradition that began with the Queen’s coronation in 1953.

Several demonstrators were arrested Thursday after passing the barriers and on the parade route. The group Animal Rebellion claimed responsibility, saying the protesters were demanding “the retaking of the royal lands”.

The anniversary gives many people – including those who are often indifferent to the monarchy – a chance to reflect on the state of the nation and the tremendous changes that have taken place during their reign. Former Prime Minister John Major – one of 14 prime ministers during the Queen’s reign – said the monarch’s stoic presence has helped guide the country over the decades.

“The Queen has represented our better selves for over 70 years,” he told the BBC.

In a written anniversary message, the Queen thanked the people of Britain and across the Commonwealth who were involved in organizing the celebrations. For many, the occasion marks the first opportunity for a big party since the coronavirus pandemic began more than two years ago.

“I know that these festive occasions will create many fond memories,” Elizabeth said. “I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to look back on all that has been achieved over the past 70 years as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.”

Congratulations came from world leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron called Elizabeth “the golden thread connecting our two countries” and one of the “very few constants” on the international stage.

Former US President Barack Obama recalled the Queen’s “grace and generosity” during his first visit to the palace. He said he “learned so much when she saw the example she set for all of us who have been privileged to serve.”

“Your life was a gift, not just to the UK but to the world,” Obama said in a video message, adding, “May the light of your crown continue to reign supreme.”

The first event of the long weekend, Trooping the Color, refers to a regimental flag or “color” being drawn through the ranks. Britain’s annual Queen’s Birthday tradition is a ceremonial re-enactment of the way soldiers were once shown battle flags to ensure they would recognize a crucial rallying point should they become disoriented in battle.

Each year a different unit in the Army’s Household Division has the honor of wearing their colour. The 1st Battalion Irish Guards will be in the spotlight during the Platinum Jubilee.

Cheers and the sound of hooves rang out on Thursday as horse-drawn carriages carried members of the royal family, including Prince William’s wife Kate and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade, a ceremonial parade ground about 1 miles away.

The Queen is expected to appear twice on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on Thursday, but Prince Charles will played a key role during the event. Mounted on horseback, he accepted a salute from the ranks of the scarlet-clad guards, also on behalf of his mother, along with his sister Princess Anne and son Prince William.

Elizabeth had been having trouble getting around lately, and her courtiers were careful to make things as easy as possible for her.

Senior royals, including Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, traveled in carriages to watch the ceremony from a building overlooking the parade ground.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined other royals to watch the spectacle. Harry and Meghan traveled to London from their home in California with their two young children to attend the celebrations.


Follow AP’s coverage of Queen Elizabeth II at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii

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