By Danica Kirka and Jill Lawless | Associated Press
LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II cautiously climbed the balcony of Buckingham Palace on Thursday, drawing wild applause from the tens of thousands who flocked to join her at the start of the four-day celebration of her 70th throne.
His fans wore Union Jack flags, party hats or plastic tiaras. Some camped out at night in hopes of catching a glimpse of the 96-year-old queen, whose appearances are becoming increasingly rare, and the opportunity to see Trooping the Color, a military parade commemorating the official birthday of each sovereign since 1760.
It was an outburst of joy among the massive crowd, one of the first major gatherings in the UK since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Everyone has the same mission,” said Hillary Mathews, 70, who came from Hertfordshire, outside London. “All the horrors that are happening in the world and in England right now are behind us for a day, and we can truly enjoy celebrating the Queen.”
Elizabeth, who became queen at the age of 25, is the longest-serving monarch of Britain and the first to reach the seven-decade-old throne.
However, after a life of good health, age began to reach. Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday night that the Queen would not be attending Thanksgiving church service on Friday after experiencing “some discomfort” at Thursday’s events. The palace said that with “much reluctance” the monarch decided to skip the service in St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The queen has had trouble moving in recent months and has retired from many public events.
But Elizabeth took part in the lighting of a chain of ceremonial beacons at Windsor Castle on Thursday night, as planned.
The Jubilee celebrations lasted for a long weekend and it was not immediately known how the news would affect the events of the Jubilee on Saturday and Sunday.
The palace says “the queen really enjoyed” Thursday’s events, and that’s how it looked.
She was enjoying her moment. Smiling, he talked to his great-grandson, 4-year-old Prince Louis, who occasionally covered his ears as 70 old and new military planes rushed over the palace to greet the queen. The six-minute display included a formation of Typhoon fighter jets flying in the shape of the number 70.
The queen, wearing a dark dove blue dress designed by Angela Kelly, was joined on the balcony by more than a dozen members of the royal family, though not Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who left the royal front-line functions two years ago. The couple traveled to London from their home in California with their two young children to quietly attend the celebrations and attended Trooping the Color with other family members on Thursday.
They did not appear on the balcony of the palace, because the monarch decided that only members of the royal family should have that honor. The decision also undoubtedly excluded Prince Andrew, who resigned from public office amid controversy over his links to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew will also miss the Thanksgiving service on Friday after testing positive for COVID-19.
The jubilee is commemorated with a four-day festive show and events that include a concert at Buckingham Palace on Saturday and a pageant hosted by thousands of artists from schools and community groups across the country on Sunday. Thousands of street parties are planned across the country, repeating a tradition that began with the Queen’s coronation in 1953.
Not everyone in Britain is partying. Many people took advantage of the long weekend to go on vacation. And 12 protesters were arrested on Thursday after overcoming barriers and entering the parade route. The Animal Rebellion group claimed responsibility, saying the protesters were “demanding that the real land be reclaimed.”
However, the jubilee is giving many people, even those indifferent to the monarchy, the opportunity to reflect on the state of the nation and the great changes that took place during the reign of Elizabeth.
Former Prime Minister John Major, one of 14 prime ministers during the queen’s reign, said the monarch’s stoic presence had helped run the country for decades.
“The queen has represented our best self for over 70 years,” she told the BBC.
In a written jubilee message, the Queen thanked the people of Britain and the Commonwealth for taking part in the organization of the celebrations. This country likes a good party.
“I know a lot of happy memories will be created on these festive occasions,” Elizabeth said. “I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and I hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved over the past 70 years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.”
Congratulations came from world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, and Pope Francis. French President Emmanuel Macron called Elizabeth “the golden thread that binds our two countries together,” and former President Barack Obama recalled the queen’s “grace and generosity” during her first visit to the palace.
“Your life has been a gift, not just to the UK but to the world,” Obama told the BBC. “Let the light of your crown continue to reign supreme.”
The applause and ringing of the helmets rang out Thursday as horse-drawn carriages carried members of the royal family, including Prince William’s wife Kate and their children, 8-year-old Prince George and 7-year-old Princess Charlotte. and Prince Louis, 4. from Buckingham Palace to the Horse Guards Parade, a ceremonial parade ground one kilometer (0.6 miles) away, for the Trooping the Color ceremony.
The annual tradition is a ceremonial recreation of the way battle flags, or colors, were displayed before for soldiers to make sure they would recognize a crucial meeting point if they became disoriented in combat.
Prince Charles, the 73-year-old heir to the throne, played a key role during the event on Thursday as he replaced his mother as he grew older.
Dressed in his ceremonial military uniform, Charles rode up to the parade ground and was greeted by troops passing by in their scarlet robes and bearskin hats. He was flanked by his sister, Princess Anne, and his eldest son, Prince William.
Tens of thousands of locals and tourists strolled the route between the palace and the courtyard to enjoy the spectacle and the atmosphere.
“I was right up front … I’m very proud of the queen,” said Celia Lourd, 60. “She has been my queen all my life and I think we owe her a lot for the service she has given to the country. So I wanted to come show my support today and thank her.”
Queen to skip Jubilee service amid ‘some discomfort’ Source link Queen to skip Jubilee service amid ‘some discomfort’