Tens of thousands of people flocked to Buckingham Palace to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee on Saturday and watch a pop concert that began with the 96-year-old king having tea with a Paddington Bear.
In a short video, the Queen revealed that she kept her favorite bear sandwich – a marmalade sandwich – inside her perpetual handbag. Then she began tapping to the tunes of the Queen Rock anthem “We Will Rock You,” which opened the show.
A host of performers appeared on stage, including Alicia Keys, Diana Ross and Rod Stewart, before the Queen’s son and heir Prince Charles and grandson Prince William, in honor of the record-breaking queen 70 years after her accession to the throne.
By early evening tens of thousands had gathered in the mall, the grand street up to the palace, and in a nearby park to watch the concert on the big screens, while ticket holders surrounded the stage on a warm evening.
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The Queen will likely finally meet Lillipet for her great-granddaughter’s first birthday on Saturday.
The opening video between the Queen and the fictional character from children’s literature had echoes of 2012 when she appeared with Britain’s most famous fictional spy, James Bond, in a video of the London Olympics opening ceremony.
The Queen was not present at Saturday’s party due to ‘occasional commuting issues’ which have caused a number of engagements to be called off recently.
Andrew Singleton, 56, a window installer from northern England who was on the queue for the concert, said the jubilee helped unite the country.
“People traveled from as far away as America to come here and just enjoy the festivities,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the Queen also missed the Epsom Derby horse race.
Her daughter Princess Anne, who competed in the three-day equestrian competition at the 1976 Olympics, stood up for her mother, who rarely missed the race during her record-breaking reign and watched it on TV from her home in Windsor Castle.
Four days of celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the throne began with a military parade, a Royal Air Force flight and beacons lighting across Britain and the world, as tens of thousands of people joined the festivities.
A sideshow to the main festivities was Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan making their first public appearance together in Britain since they resigned from their official duties to move to Los Angeles two years ago, during which time their relationship with other members of the royal family soured.
Notably, King Charles and William’s official Twitter accounts on Saturday all sent messages almost simultaneously to celebrate the birthday of Lillibit, the couple’s daughter named after the Queen.
Elizabeth had not met her granddaughter prior to the trip, and Buckingham Palace has not commented on the recently submitted press reports.
Harry and Meghan have become divisive figures, with supporters seeing them as a breath of fresh air for a monarchy bound by tradition, while critics and many newspapers scorn their business as a deal with global streaming service Netflix.
The Daily Mail ‘So Far Apart’ said on its front page that there was no apparent interaction between Harry and older brother William at the Thanksgiving party on Friday.