Due to her declining health, Elisabeth was becoming a rare sight in the public eye. Tens of thousands of people gathered on Buckingham Palace's balcony to celebrate her 70-year reign, a remarkable longevity for the British monarchy. As you can see, she was surrounded by 17 members of the royal family including Prince Charles and William, heirs to British crown.
It was the high point of four-day platinum celebrations of the popular 96-year old sovereign. This symbol of stability despite all the turmoil in the country, was highly anticipated. She is known for her unwavering dedication, her neutrality, and her tongue-in cheek humor.
Queen Elizabeth II, at 25 years old, as her father George VI died on February 6, 1952, ascended the throne. She was wearing a dove blue ensemble and leaned motionless on a cane. Edward, Duke of Kent, a cousin colonel in the Scots Guards, one of the elite regiments that make up the British Royal Guard, was with her. He saluted the participants in the annual military parade known as the "salute to colours".
A little later, she returned to the balcony for a Royal Air Force flightover. This time, she was accompanied by Royal Family members who have official duties as well as their children. Prince Harry and Meghan, their first visit to the United Kingdom together since their dramatic departure from California in 2020, were absent. They attended the parade discreetly from a different building. Prince Andrew, who spent millions to resolve a sexual assault case, was also absent.
A dense crowd gathered on the Mall, which leads to the palace, for this holiday.
Peter said, "It's a rare day, it won’t happen again as long I'm alive: 70 year on the throne," and was interviewed by AFP during the audience.
Mark Cornell, a man who is primarily from the north of England, says that it only happens once in your lifetime. He also assures that he doesn't support the monarchy unconditionally: "They have to reinvent themselves for the next generation." .
The heirs to Elizabeth II, Princes Charles, and William marched on horseback in the red dress with long bear hair caps for the annual parade. This event brought together over 1,200 soldiers and hundreds more musicians. Camilla and Kate, their respective wives, arrived in a carriage together with Louis, Charlotte, and George, the children of Louis.
Elizabeth is the longest reigning British monarch. It is highly unlikely that another British sovereign will be as long-lived: Charles, the Crown Prince is 73 and William, his son, 40 soon.
This jubilee is a time of joy and communion for the British after years of heartbreak and pain over Brexit and Covid-19.
In the streets of the UK, giant portraits, flags, and pennants were displayed. The queen must light the evening from Windsor Castle, a 21-meter tall sculpture located in front Buckingham Palace, after the Thursday parade. A mass will be held on Friday. Saturday will see a huge concert and Sunday will bring thousands of people together for giant picnics.
"I hope that the next few days will allow me to reflect on the achievements of the past 70 years and look forward with confidence and enthusiasm," the Head of State, the Sovereign, said in a written statement. The State of fifteen Kingdoms, Canada to the United Kingdom via New Zealand.
From all over the globe, congratulations were pouring in. French President Emmanuel Macron praised his "dedication" and "unwavering friendship" with the Franco-British. Even Sinn Fein, the Republican party in Ireland, has recognized its role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process. This is a feat that was long impossible to imagine from the ex-IRA political showpiece.
The palace confirmed Elizabeth II's appearance on Wednesday night. These rare appearances are highly anticipated. Due to her health concerns, almost all of her official appearances have been cancelled since October's night in hospital.
She has trouble walking since her husband Philip died last year. She is not afraid to smile and relax and has been surprising many people recently with her cheerful and relaxed demeanour.
The monarchy was faced with increasing criticism in this atmosphere of end-of-reign, especially from the former colonies, about the British Empire's past slavery.
According to YouGov, 75% of British citizens still love the queen, while Charles, her heir, is less loved (50%). Only 39% believe the institution will be around in 100 years.