The platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II has begun - an unprecedented event in British history

The platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II has begun – an unprecedented event in British history

Left to right: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Louis of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge on Buckingham Palace balcony during a parade The Colored Troops on June 2, 2022 in London, England.Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Four days of celebrations for the Queen’s platinum jubilee began Thursday morning, as a military parade marked 70 years of Britain’s longest-serving monarch and tens of thousands of well-wishers thronged closed streets across central London.

It’s an unprecedented event in British history – no other king has reached seven decades on the throne. But it also represents a moment of reflection on how Britain has changed since 1952, when Queen Elizabeth II inherited the job after her father’s untimely death. She was only 25 years old, a young mother of two.

“Thank you to everyone who took part in bringing together communities, families, neighbors and friends to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee in the UK and across the Commonwealth,” the Queen said in a statement as the festivities began.

“I am still inspired by the goodwill shown to me.”

Thursday’s festivities began with the Troops of Color, a military procession that traditionally marks the king’s “official” birthday. “Color” is a regiment flag that was used as a rally point in battle.

After proceeding along the mall in central London to Buckingham Palace, the royal family appeared on the palace balcony to watch the Royal Bridge, with military aircraft writing the number “70” And display Union Jack colors in smoke trails.

In Trafalgar Square, which was packed with pedestrians strolling outside Canada House and climbing the lion statues that surrounded Nelson’s Column, cheers resounded as helicopters and jets hovered overhead.

Barbara Davis, 85, had her extended family gathered in the yard on picnic blankets and folding chairs, Jack Union draped over her shoulders. She estimated that she had seen the Queen in person at least a dozen times, including on her coronation day in London, when Davis was a student.

When asked what she remembers of the event, she remembered, “How young she was [the Queen] I was.” It was a bittersweet moment – the audience was well aware that the Queen was being crowned at a very young age due to the death of her beloved father.

Davis recalled the deep loyalty at the time to the Queen’s parents, especially after their decision to stay in London during the raid, and the high expectations placed on the young Queen’s shoulders – expectations that Davis said she exceeded. “It was amazing,” Davis said.

It was a feeling of respect that was repeated across the international crowd, which transcended age and nationality.

Jubilee has attempted to walk the line of embracing how Britain has diversified and changed, while also tending to the historical pomp of a royal event. Besides the traditional church mass on Friday and horse racing on Saturday, the holiday will also see a concert with performances from Ed Sheeran and Diana Ross. Parties and special events in the streets across the UK range from afternoon tea to a Drag Queen brunch and a Bollywood themed party.

But there is no doubt that the royal family is also changing. The Queen, 96, had been having mobility issues, and her appearances at official events were starting to slow. Last year, she lost her husband Prince Philip after 73 years. Her heir, Prince Charles, took on a more active role, raising questions about whether another monarch would be widely adopted.

“It is unprecedented to have a 70-year Jubilee,” said Philip Murphy, director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at University College London. “This raises a real question about the next step, and whether this ‘constitutional monarchy’ is in fact a stable and common form of government, or whether it is really up to the personality of the Queen.”

  • Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Louis of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge watch the RAF on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.Chris Jackson / Getty Images

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Other signs of discord appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, which was reserved for “working” members of the royal family. While Prince Harry, his wife Meghan and children are visiting from the United States, they will not officially appear after leaving their roles in 2020.

Prince Andrew was also absent, after being stripped of his royal duties in January over allegations he sexually assaulted an underage girl.

Andrew, the queen’s second son, was forced to leave his royal duties due to his friendship with late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and he settled a US lawsuit in February in which he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman when she was underage. Andrew, 62, known officially as the Duke of York, has denied any wrongdoing.

The Prince will miss the Thanksgiving service that will be held for the Queen on Friday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the throne, after he tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “The Duke has tested positive for COVID and unfortunately will not attend tomorrow’s Mass.”

Buckingham Palace said the Queen would not attend mass at St Paul’s Cathedral as originally planned, after experiencing some movement discomfort when she appeared at the military parade on Thursday.

Bob Morris, senior fellow emeritus in the Constitution Unit at University College London and editor of a book on the role of monarchies in London, said Prince Charles would inherit a role whose direct powers had already been curtailed under the Queen in modern democracies.

But if the jubilee is fraught with symbolism, it’s also a great excuse to party. After 70 years, including the last several years of Brexit and the pandemic, Morris said his neighborhood is planning a lively street party.

“We celebrate the survival of the monarchy and the queen, and we also celebrate our own survival.”

– Files from Reuters

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2022-06-02 16:23:19

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