Military parade kicks off queen’s historic jubilee celebrations

Buckingham Palace released a new photograph of the queen to mark her Platinum Jubilee

Huge crowds converged on central London in bright sunshine on Thursday for the start of four days of public events to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s historic Platinum Jubilee, in what could be the last major public event of her long reign.

From early morning, a steady stream of people, many clutching Union flags and picnic baskets, headed to The Mall near Buckingham Palace, where the 96-year-old monarch will make two appearances later.

Ambulance service worker Gilbert Falconer, 65, travelled from Scotland to witness the event, which is held to mark the queen’s official birthday.

“This is very significant,” added another spectator Daniel Marmah.

– Appearances – 

She has had to cut back drastically her public appearances since last year because of difficulties standing and walking — and a bout of Covid.

The centuries-old ceremony has previously seen the queen take the salute on horseback herself.

Joining senior royals watching the display of military precision will be Charles’ younger son, Prince Harry, and his wife Meghan, on a rare visit from California, Buckingham Palace confirmed.

She will return to the balcony later

At nightfall, the queen will be at Windsor Castle, west of London, to take part in a ceremony to light more than 3,000 beacons across the country and the Commonwealth of 54 nations that she heads.

Elizabeth was a 25-year-old princess when she succeeded her father king George VI in 1952, bringing a rare touch of glamour to a battered nation still enduring food rations after World War II.

Britain’s first and very likely only Platinum Jubilee will see street parties, pop concerts and parades until Sunday.

She could yet put in a final appearance — again from the palace balcony — on Sunday, at the climax of a huge public pageant involving 6,000 performers.

“I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions,” she said.

– Respite –

Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, caused shockwaves in early 2020 by moving to North America, from where they have publicly criticised royal life.

Since then, she has struggled with her health, and also the fallout from Andrew’s links to the convicted sex offenders Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Attention is increasingly turning to the succession, and the monarchy’s future at home and in the 14 other Commonwealth countries where the queen is also head of state.

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