Pennants, flags and giant portraits were hung in the streets across the UK, and Royal Family stalwarts pitched their tents in London to get a front row seat to the Platinum Jubilee of the world’s most famous monarch, in declining health today.
In a country that has spent several years tearing itself apart over Brexit, has been hit hard by Covid-19 and its strict lockdowns and is currently experiencing soaring prices, these four days offer a welcome respite.
“I hope the next few days will be an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved over the past 70 years, while looking to the future with confidence and enthusiasm,” the 96-year-old sovereign said in a written message. , head of state of 15 kingdoms, from the United Kingdom to Canada via New Zealand.
Never has a British sovereign reigned so long. It is unlikely that another will achieve such longevity: Charles, the crown prince is 73 years old, his son William will soon be 40 years old.
Opening an extended weekend of parades, popular festivals and concerts, the celebrations begin on Thursday with the traditional annual military parade of the Salute to the Colors, which Charles will inspect on horseback, as his mother once did, before an aerial flight.
The monarch is to appear twice briefly on one of the most famous balconies in the world, where the British royal family has marked major events since the 19th century.
At his side, the family will be limited to members who have official functions and their children. Exit therefore Prince Harry and Meghan, who will attend the parade from another building for their first return together to the United Kingdom since their sensational departure in California in 2020. Also missing is Prince Andrew, who paid millions of dollars to put put an end to a sexual assault complaint.
– Growing role for Charles –
Confirmed only Wednesday evening by the palace, the appearances of Elizabeth II, which have become rare, are eagerly awaited.
Because her health worries: since a night in the hospital in October, she has canceled almost all her official appearances, replaced by Charles, including for the first time in May for the speech from the throne in Parliament.
Frail, she finds it difficult to walk and leans on a cane. The one who, very religious, had promised at 21 to devote her “entire life” to the service of the British, however, shows no desire to abdicate. She has made several surprise appearances recently, smiling and relaxed, notably at the famous horticultural exhibition at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, in an electric cart.
In this atmosphere of end of reign, the monarchy has gone through several crises in recent years and is faced with growing criticism, particularly in the former colonies, concerning the slavery past of the British Empire. After Barbados last year, Jamaica has indicated that it wants to cut the cord with the crown to become a Republic.
– Street parties –
In the United Kingdom, the queen remains very popular with 75% favorable opinion according to the YouGov institute, but her heir Charles is much less appreciated (50%).
According to YouGov, 62% of Britons want to see the monarchy continue, but 18-24 year olds are divided (33% for, 31% against). And only 39% of Britons think the institution will still exist in 100 years.
In this period of questioning, the jubilee celebrations bring a parenthesis centered on the personality of the queen, who intends to mark her presence. After the balcony of Buckingham, she will participate in the evening in a ceremony with illuminations from Windsor Castle, on the outskirts of London, where she now resides.
On Friday, a mass will be held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, this time with the whole family, including Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, as well as Prince Andrew.
Saturday, however, the Queen will miss the prestigious Epsom Derby, according to the press, despite her passion for these horse races.
A big concert – which the queen should watch on television – will follow at Buckingham Palace in the evening, with 22,000 people, and among the headliners Alicia Keys, Queen Adam Lambert, Diana Ross.
On Sunday, 10,000 people will parade through central London. Above all, millions of Britons will participate in thousands of neighborhood lunches and street parties, rare moments of communion to pay homage to a sovereign who has crossed, imperturbable, times and crises.