(London) Elizabeth II largely missed the platinum jubilee due to her failing health, but “determined” to continue serving her subjects, made a surprise appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on Sunday, the last day of festivities in the changing fragrance of the times.
Posted at 9:25 a.m.
Updated at 1:52 pm.
The 96-year-old queen, who has difficulty walking, walked away from the main celebrations organized for her age-record 70-year reign. She did not attend the religious ceremony on Friday, nor the beloved horse races on Saturday, nor the giant concert in front of her palace, nor did she speak in public.
But she surprised her subjects by returning to the famous balcony, where the British monarchy has celebrated major events for more than a century, kicking off the four-day feast on Thursday.
Accompanied by her heirs Prince Charles, 73, and William, soon to be 40, with wives and children, to embody the future of the monarchy, she greeted the tens of thousands of people crammed into the Mall, the street leading to the palace. Leaning on a stick, dressed in green, she stayed while the anthem was playing May God protect the Queen Then he left.
“I am deeply moved that so many people have taken to the streets to celebrate my platinum jubilee,” the Queen said in a letter issued by Buckingham Palace and signed by her hand.
“Although I have not attended each event in person, my heart is with all of you; and I will remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability, with the support of my family.” She said she hopes “this renewed sense of togetherness” will continue “for many years to come.”
Even if the Queen has no intention of abdicating the throne, faithful to a promise already formulated in 1947 to serve her subjects all her life, she is preparing them for the future. Her heir Charles represents her more and more.
Her exit has not been announced and has been the subject of speculation throughout the parade that concluded the jubilee through central London, which saw a series of 260-year-old golden chariots, ceremonial-clad soldiers coming from across the Commonwealth, then actors, dancers and even puppets of Corgi dogs, his dogs Favorite, in carnival-like reviews.
Only fifteen minutes had passed since her appearance until the suspense was raised: the flag was raised above the mast overlooking the palace, a sign of the king’s presence there, to the delight of the audience present.
Tea with Paddington
Across the UK, tens of thousands of lunches and picnics were organized among neighbors on Sunday despite the rainy weather to gleefully celebrate the historic reign of a hugely popular queen, both close and mysterious, a reassuring symbol of stability in a century of great upheaval.
In Windsor, 488 tables are set on the driveway to the castle where the Queen is staying, while Prince Charles and his wife Camilla exchange tea and canapes with the crowd at a cricket ground.
During the festivities, Elizabeth II left her heirs at the fore, confirming her gradual withdrawal in recent months and the impression many of those involved in the festivities were of the end of an era, after an unprecedented reign that began on February 6, 1952 in the United States. The kingdom is still a colony empire.
Besides her appearance on the balcony, she marked her attendance with another surprise on Saturday. Known for her sense of duty, but also her sense of humor, the Queen filmed a short video where she had tea with Paddington Bear, a goofy icon of British children’s literature.
Then she beat the time with a silver spoon on her porcelain cup, coinciding with the opening of the concert. The viewership reached a peak of 13.4 million viewers on the BBC.
“The smell of farewell”
The latest festivities put an end to a four-day holiday for the British in a period of hyperinflation and political scandal.
Many participants in the festivities were aware of the historical dimension of this moment. No British monarch has ever ruled for this long, and this 70-year record is unlikely to be broken in the future given the age of his heirs.
“Inevitably, these festivities had the flavor of farewell,” said columnist Tony Parsons in The Sun, emphasizing the “acute realization that we would never see a king like this again.”
Succession promises to be illusory: Charles is much less popular than his mother, and only 32% of Britons believe he will become a good king (YouGov, April 2022). The monarchy was challenged during recent excursions by its members about the past of slaves in the British Empire.
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