Picnics and parade to end Queen Elizabeth II's historic jubilee

AFP , Sunday 5 Jun 2022

The curtain comes down on four days of celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth II's historic Platinum Jubilee on Sunday, in a finale of picnics, a public parade and a pop serenade.

Britain Platinum Jubilee
Members of the local community participate in the Big Jubilee Lunch at The Long Table on day four of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations outside Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, Sunday, June 5, 2022. AP


Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran wraps up a day-long pageant in central London with a rendition of his 2017 hit "Perfect", capping a long-weekend of festivities combining military pomp and tradition with music and culture.

Across the country, more than 10 million people braved overcast skies to share food with friends, family and neighbours to mark the 96-year-old monarch's record-breaking 70-year reign.

It was unclear if the queen will attend any events Sunday after she was forced to skip events on the previous two days because of increasing difficulties walking and standing.

At a star-studded music concert outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday she put in a surprise on-screen appearance, taking tea with the beloved children's book and film character Paddington Bear.

In the pre-recorded video, she tapped out the drumbeat of rock band Queen's "We Will Rock You" -- the concert's opening number -- on a fine china teacup and saucer to get the party started.

The clip, in which the monarch jokingly revealed that she keeps a marmalade sandwich in her handbag, had been viewed 1.7 million times on the royals' official YouTube channel by Sunday morning.

A peak of 13.4 million viewers watched the concert on television, the BBC said.

The queen previously made a cameo with James Bond actor Daniel Craig for the opening of the London 2012 Olympics.

End of era

Two public holidays Thursday and Friday, longer pub opening hours, street parties and other events have temporarily lifted the gloom of soaring inflation and political turmoil.

Many saw it as a once-in-a-generation event to mark the closing of an extraordinary chapter in British life and to recognise its most famous national symbol.

A running theme has been the dramatic social, political and technological changes in Britain and the world since the queen came to the throne in 1952 -- and her constant presence through it all.

With her heir Prince Charles now 73, the next jubilee -- probably for his eldest son William's 25th year on the throne -- could be at least 50 years away.

"She's been the queen my whole life," said visiting American John Barli, 66.

"She's the world's grandmother as far I'm concerned," he told the Sunday Times.

But there was also acknowledgement that the second Elizabethan era -- five centuries after the first -- is nearly over.

"Long goodbye"

A spectacular light show illuminated the palace and the night sky above it on Saturday, including images of a corgi, a handbag and a teapot.

One message said simply: "Thank you, Ma'am."

"Inevitably, this celebration had a valedictory feel," the Sunday Telegraph said of Saturday's concert, which was headlined by Diana Ross.

"But there is also the keen awareness that we will never see the likes of this monarch again."

"It won't be the same without our queen," Julie Blewitt, 56, from Manchester, told AFP outside St Paul's Cathedral on Friday.

"It's such a shame she won't be here for much longer."

The Observer weekly called it "part of a long goodbye that began with her solitary attendance at Prince Philip's funeral last year".

The queen has gradually been preparing the public for the familiar figure of Charles to take over as king.

He deputised last month at the State Opening of Parliament, at Thursday's Trooping the Colour military parade and Friday's thanksgiving service.

The jubilee was "an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last 70 years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm," she said in a message on Wednesday.

Yet the monarchy -- Charles and, after him, William -- will lead will be different from the one Elizabeth inherited in the aftermath of World War II.

Then, Britain was still a major colonial power but republican movements are gathering pace in the 14 Commonwealth countries where the queen is also head of state, including Australia and in the Caribbean.


Sunday's "Platinum Jubilee Pageant" involves a military spectacle celebrating the armed forces, along with personnel from many of the other 53 Commonwealth countries that the queen heads.

The Mounted Band of the Household Cavalry -- the largest regular military band in the UK -- led the 260-year-old Gold State Coach along a crowd-thronged route to Buckingham Palace.

A cast of 10,000 are involved in a street performance showcasing popular culture over the seven decades, featuring music, dance, fashion, youth culture, classic cars and double-decker buses.

Performers from street theatre, carnival and puppetry also join in to celebrate Elizabeth's life and reign.

Highlights include an aerial artist suspended under a vast helium balloon, known as a heliosphere, bearing the sovereign's image.

The carnival includes a giant oak tree flanked with maypole dancers, a huge moving wedding cake sounding out Bollywood hits, an African-Caribbean carnival, a towering dragon and fantastical beasts.

The spectacle will culminate in the singing of Britain's national anthem, "God Save the Queen", and Sheeran's performance.

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