LONDON – In a crowning moment of her Platinum Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, delighting fans hoping to catch a glimpse of her on the final day of the Queen’s 70th Jubilee celebrations.
The 96-year-old monarch has restricted her schedule in recent months because of her mobility issues. Before Sunday, the Queen had only appeared in public twice – both on Thursdays – during the four-day celebrations over the bank holiday weekend. Officials said she experienced “discomfort” during those events.
The Queen, dressed in bright green, waved and smiled after the crowd blared “God save the Queen.” Their performance, which lasted only a few minutes, was followed by a crowd-pleasing performance of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”.
It was an uplifting finale to a major street competition that celebrated the Queen’s life and highlighted Britain’s diversity.
Thousands of people gathered outside the palace at the culmination of a boisterous, colorful pageant cheered as the monarch appeared on the balcony with her son and heir Prince Charles, his wife Camilla and their eldest grandson Prince William and family.
Afterwards, the monarch issued a statement thanking everyone celebrating her platinum anniversary.
“When it comes to how to celebrate seventy years as Queen, there is no guide to follow. It’s really a first,” she said. “But I am deeply impressed and deeply touched that so many people took to the streets to celebrate my platinum anniversary.
“Although I may not have personally attended every event, my heart was with you all; and I will remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability, supported by my family.”
Sunday’s pageant began with a spectacular military parade of 200 horses marching down the Mall to Buckingham Palace. They flanked the Golden State Coach, a gilded carriage that transported the Queen to her coronation 69 years ago. A virtual version of her, drawn from archival video of her 1953 coronation, was displayed on the carriage windows.
After the pomp and pageantry came a mix of acts ranging from hip-hop and Bollywood dancers to drag queens and Mardi Gras-style floats. Around 6,000 performers marched along a route lined with a sea of Union flags, telling the story of the Queen’s life with dancing, vintage cars, colorful costumes, carnival music and giant puppets. Celebrities including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss have been spotted on floats.
The pageant was watched by an estimated 1 billion people around the world, organizers say.
Braving the cold and wet weather, the staunch royal supporters camped overnight on The Mall for the best view of the pageant. Some came to see the celebrities perform – like Ed Sheeran singing his song “Perfect” while a giant video screen showed images of the Queen and her family – while others just wanted to be part of a historic moment.
“It’s part of history, it will never happen again. It’s special, so if you’re going to do it, you have to make it big or go home,” said Shaun Wallen, 50.
The Queen did not join her family in the royal box to watch the pageant. Neither has Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who took their first family trip to the UK since stepping down from royal duties and relocating to the US in 2020. The pair largely stayed out of the spotlight during the Platinum Jubilee events.
Thousands of people rushed to the Mall to see the Queen after the parade ended, filling the huge area in minutes.
On Sunday, Charles and Camilla mingled with the crowd at The Oval Cricket Ground in London for a huge anniversary lunch.
Millions of people across the country also set out long tables, balloons and picnic foods for similar patriotic street festivals, gatherings welcomed after the long pandemic lockdowns of the past two years.
Queen Elizabeth sips ravishing tea with Paddington Bear at Buckingham Palace
Now we know what’s in Queen Elizabeth II’s purse.
The long-standing mystery was solved on Saturday as the British monarch made the second turning point of her career, appearing in a mini-film to open a concert celebrating her 70th anniversary on the throne. The sketch showed the Queen enjoying cream tea with British national treasure Paddington Bear at Buckingham Palace.
After drinking all the tea and destroying the cakes, the bear in the duffle coat told Elizabeth he always carried a supply of jam sandwiches and raised his red hat to reveal his favorite candy.
“Me too,” the queen replied, before opening her bag and declaring, “I keep mine here.”
Platinum Anniversary Begins:Queen Elizabeth II opens the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the monarchy with a parade
The scene recalled the moment Elizabeth starred as the Bond girl in a short film celebrating the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.
“Her Majesty is known for her sense of humor so it should come as no surprise that she has chosen to take part in tonight’s skit,” the palace said. “There was a lot of interest in the shooting and animation process and the opportunity to invite a famous bear over for tea was just too good to pass up.”
The Queen’s appearance with an animated bear drew laughter and loud applause from the packed crowd at the concert outside Buckingham Palace, which was the culmination of the third of four days of celebrations to mark her Platinum Jubilee. The 96-year-old monarch did not attend the concert in person due to what the palace describes as “episodic mobility issues”.
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Despite the Queen’s absence, spirits were high during an event that culminated with the appearance of the monarch’s son and grandson. Prince Charles and his son Prince William paid tribute to the Queen in separate speeches that honored the past and looked to the future.
Anne Middleton, 61, who traveled to the anniversary celebrations from Cardiff, Wales, said she loved the Paddington sketch and the Queen’s decision to skip the event did not spoil the celebrations.
“Not for me,” she said, decked out head to toe in the flags of Great Britain and Wales. “She showed up on day one, and we know she would have been there if she could have been.”
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Charles opened his short speech by addressing the Queen as “Her Majesty, Mummy” and then paid tribute to her “lifelong selfless service”.
The Queen’s eldest son and heir recalled the ever-growing list of world leaders Elizabeth has met and the endless stacks of government papers she’s reviewed during a reign that now stretches from the early days of the Cold War to the information age extends. But he also highlighted his mother’s role as a symbol of the stability that united the UK and Commonwealth as they negotiated this rapidly changing world.
“They met us and talked to us. You laugh and cry with us, and most importantly, you’ve been there for us throughout these 70 years,” Charles said as scenes from the Queen’s life were projected onto the palace walls. “You promised to serve your whole life – you keep delivering. That’s why we’re here. That’s what we’re celebrating tonight.”
William preceded his father with remarks that underscored the Queen’s longstanding commitment to the environment as he stressed the need to tackle climate change. The presentation began with an excerpt from the Queen’s 1989 Christmas Message, in which she called on all nations to work together to protect the earth for “our children and grandchildren”.
That message is still relevant today, William said.
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“I do hope that my grandmother’s words are as true 70 years from now as they are tonight, that we come together as nations for a common cause, because then there is always room for hope.”
The Queen has not attended any of the anniversary celebrations since Thursday when she waved to supporters from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
The monarch also decided not to attend the Epsom Derby earlier on Saturday and was represented at the prestigious annual horse race by her daughter Princess Anne.
Known as a horse lover, the Queen has only missed the Epsom Derby a handful of times. On Saturday, five of her former racehorses were paraded and 40 jockeys who had ridden for the Queen formed an honor guard before the national anthem was played.
“She has been breeding horses for over 60 years,” Frankie Dettori, one of the jockeys, told the BBC. “She knows all the bloodlines and she’s won a lot of races and she’s very knowledgeable.”
“I’m sure she will find a TV today and watch live because she loves the derby so much,” he added.
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It was the second time in as many days that the Queen’s mobility issues have deprived the crowds of a chance to see her.
On Friday, the Queen skipped a special Thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral in London in her honor. Palace officials said she experienced “some discomfort” at events the day before, including being waved out of Buckingham Palace by a large crowd.
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan were among nearly 50 members of the royal family who gathered at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday to honor the absent head of state. It was the couple’s first public appearance in the UK since they retired from royal duties and moved to California two years ago.
Aside from attending Friday church services, the couple has so far stayed out of the spotlight. Their two children, Archie and Lilibet, who turned 1 on Saturday, have yet to show up during this trip. A spokesman for the couple said they would be spending the day “in private” and not joining about 30 other royals at Saturday’s concert.
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Meanwhile, members of the royal family traveled to Wales and Northern Ireland as part of celebrations across Britain
William and his wife Kate took two of their three children – 8-year-old Prince George and 7-year-old Princess Charlotte – to Cardiff Castle in Wales before a separate concert was held in the castle grounds in honor of the Queen.
The Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, visited a 1950s-style seaside funfair in Belfast. Edward tried his hand at a pint of Guinness at a diner while Sophie watched a dance performance from the 50’s and 60’s.