Thursday marked the beginning of four days of pomp, parties, and parades commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s record-breaking 70 years on the British throne. A radiant Queen Elizabeth waved to ecstatic crowds gathered outside Buckingham Palace.
Tens of thousands of flag-waving royal fans packed the streets of London for a military parade that marked the beginning of Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Millions of people were anticipated to attend street celebrations, watch the festivities, and light beacons in honour of the 96-year-old queen across Britain and the world.
On the balcony of Buckingham Palace, Elizabeth was accompanied by her son and heir Prince Charles, 73, and other senior royals. She was clutching a walking stick and wore the same dusky dove blue suit she wore in an official Jubilee portrait released on Thursday.
Elizabeth has remained on the throne longer than any of her predecessors and is the sovereign state’s third-longest reigning monarch ever.
“Thank you to everyone engaged in bringing together communities, families, neighbours, and friends to celebrate my Platinum Jubilee in the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth,” she said in a statement as the celebrations began.
“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and I hope that the following days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been accomplished over the last 70 years as we look to the future with optimism and confidence.”
The audience cheered as the royals observed a fly-by of ancient and modern Royal Air Force aircraft. The great-grandchildren of the queen waved as jets screamed overhead.
Thursday not only marks the beginning of the Jubilee, but also the 69th anniversary of Elizabeth’s coronation, which occurred in February 1952, following the death of her father, King George VI.
As a result of the monarch’s advanced age and recent “episodic mobility” concerns, which have caused her to cancel certain engagements, Elizabeth’s participation in the activities will be considerably limited compared to her participation in prior large gatherings.
The ceremonies began with the Trooping the Colour, an annual military parade in central London commemorating the queen’s formal birthday, in which 1,500 troops marched in scarlet tunics and bearskin headgear to military music.
Several individuals created a small disturbance by dashing in front of marching soldiers on the Boulevard of the Mall before being taken away by police. Multiple were arrested
Senior royals, including Charles, 73, and his eldest son William, 39, are performing certain ceremonial obligations on the queen’s behalf, but the spotlight will be on those who are absent.
Prince Andrew, the 62-year-old second son of the queen, who resolved a U.S. lawsuit in February in which he was accused of sexually abusing a woman while she was a minor, is not anticipated to attend. Andrew refuted the charge.
Her grandson Prince Harry, who now resides in Los Angeles with his American wife Meghan after relinquishing his royal duties, observed the parade but was not there on the palace balcony to view the fly-past, with only “working” family members present.
Salutes were fired by cannon in London, throughout the United Kingdom, and from Royal Navy ships at sea. The queen will lead the lighting of the Principal Platinum Jubilee Beacon at her residence at Windsor Castle.
Among those sending messages of goodwill were French President Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis, and previous British prime leaders.
Eight in ten Britons hold a favourable opinion of Elizabeth, according to a survey conducted this week, and three-quarters believe she has performed admirably in her role as monarch, according to a second survey.
“I cannot think of any other public figure, celebrity, or president… who could have remained so popular,” said former British prime minister John Major on BBC radio.
“Her life has been played out in public, all its highs, lows, good and bad moments. For nearly seventy years, the queen has embodied our noblest selves “One of fourteen chiefs who served under Elizabeth, Major stated.
However, not everyone will participate in the festivities.
The anti-monarchy group Republic, which is displaying the slogan “Make Elizabeth the last” on billboards across the United Kingdom, stated that a new survey revealed that more than half of the general public was not interested in the jubilee.