Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee Celebration Concludes

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LONDON—On Sunday, Queen Elizabeth II walked out onto the balcony at Buckingham Palace to mark the end of her platinum jubilee and hear a booming rendition of “God Save the Queen” sung by thousands.

It was just the third time during the four-day event that the nation’s longest-serving monarch was seen in public.

Throughout the jubilee, it was her son Prince Charles and her grandson Prince William who did the bulk of the ceremonial heavy lifting as the queen was unable to attend many events because of ongoing mobility problems.

“While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all; and I remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability, supported by my family,” the queen said in a statement.

Thousands marched at a pageant to mark the platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II ascending the throne. The event crowned four days of festivities across the U.K. Photo: POOL/REUTERS

Indeed, the jubilee culminated Sunday with a parade featuring a hologram of the queen displayed inside the 18th century gold state coach as it made its way through central London.

It was, in many ways, a template of how the House of Windsor will look in this final chapter of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Her children, grandson and their respective partners will do the bulk of the royal legwork, while the queen remains head of state and a vital national linchpin but largely from her residence in Windsor Castle.

“You laugh and cry with us and, most importantly, you have been there for us, for these 70 years,” Prince Charles said Saturday during a speech in which he referred to the queen as “mummy.”

“You pledged to serve your whole life—you continue to deliver. You continue to make history,” he added.

About 12 million people participated in some 70,000 jubilee lunches and street parties on Sunday.



Photo:

PETER NICHOLLS/REUTERS

Prince Charles stood in for the queen at her birthday military parade on Thursday and a church service at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Friday. On Saturday, it was Prince Charles and Prince William who gave speeches in front of an illuminated Buckingham Palace during a pop concert. On Sunday, the 73-year-old heir to the throne appeared at one of the thousands of street parties across the nation held in her honor.

The 96-year-old queen once said of her role as monarch, “I need to be seen to be believed.” The four-day event in which she rarely appeared in person was a testament to her continued outsize presence in British people’s lives. Some 13.4 million tuned in to watch the platinum jubilee concert, the British Broadcasting Corp said. On Sunday, around 12 million people joined in at some 70,000 jubilee lunches and street parties in the damp British weather.

The elaborate show served to reinforce the monarchy’s stable support within Britain. A poll at the start of the jubilee by YouGov found that 62% of British people think the country should continue to have a monarchy. Only 22% said the country should have an elected head of state.

“I’m not a monarchist, but I feel she’s done the most dignified job,” said Michael Hobbs, 83 years old, at a street party in south London replete with Union Jack bunting and Victoria spongecakes. Mr. Hobbs added it was “quite understandable” that the queen made only a limited appearance at the jubilee, given the physical demands that would entail.

Performers paraded in London on Sunday to celebrate the queen’s 70-year reign.



Photo:

frank augstein/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

When the queen did appear, it was to rapturous reception. On Saturday before the Buckingham Palace concert, a prerecorded skit of the queen with Paddington Bear, a well-known British children’s book and movie character, was played. The digitally rendered bear was seen having tea with a smiling queen and committing various gaffes. The queen then tapped a spoon to her tea cup along to the tune of rock band Queen’s “We Will Rock You” to launch the concert. The crowd went wild.

On Thursday, the queen had twice walked out onto the Buckingham Palace balcony during the Trooping of the Colour ceremony to mark her birthday—once to inspect the troops and another with the wider family to view a fly past. On Sunday, thousands of people massed on the road leading up to Buckingham Palace to cheer the queen as she emerged again onto the balcony to hear “God Save the Queen.”

The carefully orchestrated event was peppered with sign posts to the future. On Saturday night at the concert, Prince Charles was joined on stage by his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, a poignant moment aimed at highlighting her role as the future monarch’s consort. Prince William gave a speech to rally round an issue his father has long championed: the importance of the environment. That spoke to the monarchy’s awareness that it needs to secure the support of younger people, many of whom are agnostic about the institution.

The focus of events was firmly around the line of succession of the Windsor clan, the queen, Prince Charles, Prince William, their partners and his children. It was this core segment of the family that was present by her side on Sunday afternoon’s grand finale on the balcony at Buckingham Palace.

A street party was held in Ashby-de-la-Zouch in central England on Sunday as part of the jubilee celebration.



Photo:

oli scarff/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Palace advisers say that Prince Charles’s increased presence at big public events is important for smoothing the eventual road to succession. The more the British public becomes accustomed to the prince in these various roles, the less jarring it will be when he does accede to the throne, they say.

Other potential road bumps were carefully navigated.

Prince Harry

and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, kept their public appearances to a minimum, laying to rest fears among courtiers that the couple would use their first appearances in the U.K. since splitting with royal duties in 2020 to try to upstage other family members. Prince Andrew, relegated from royal duties after he settled allegations of sexual abuse, didn’t appear at all. The palace said he had tested positive for Covid-19 and so had to miss the church service at St. Paul’s on Friday. A spokeswoman for him declined to comment.

There will now be a period of stasis for the family. The queen’s long legacy will continue to anchor the family for the foreseeable future, experts say. Much of Windsor’s popularity in the future will be built on her past.

So it was perhaps fitting that the digital queen that waved to the crowds on Sunday from the golden coach was made using footage of the young queen traveling to her 1953 coronation, right at the beginning of a historic reign.

The jubilee celebrations held across England included dancing and tea in Blackpool on Sunday.



Photo:

MOLLY DARLINGTON/REUTERS

Celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-Year Reign

Write to Max Colchester at [email protected]

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