On the first day of her platinum jubilee to celebrate her 70 years of reign, Queen Elisabeth appeared Thursday to the cheers of tens of thousands of people gathered near Buckingham Palace. Tens of thousands of Britons came to celebrate it, perhaps for “the last time”.
“The Queen! The Queen!” exclaimed the jubilant crowd when Elizabeth II appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, impatiently awaited by tens of thousands of Britons who had come to celebrate her, perhaps for “the last time”.
Perched on lampposts, armed with binoculars, seated on the shoulders of a parent or simply hoisted on tiptoe, young and old invaded the Mall, a majestic tree-lined artery leading to the palace, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the 96-year-old sovereign in declining health, whose appearances are rare.
When she finally arrives, dressed in blue and leaning on a cane, at the end of the traditional military parade of the Salute to the Colors, the cheers explode. Flags in the national colors bearing his portrait wave frantically and mobile phones are carried at arm’s length in an attempt to capture a few souvenir images.
“I saw the queen on the balcony!” enthuses Jenny Lynn Taylor, 38, an American living in the UK, who works in marketing. “I had never seen her in person”, she adds, questioned by AFP, “proud” to participate in this “historic event”: she already displays 70 years of reign and “our children will not even know not this monarchy”.
“I love her, she is incredible. She has devoted her whole life to her duty, more than any of us”, intervenes her friend Kate Asplin, 30, a communications manager. A good half hour later, the cheers redouble when Elizabeth II returns to the famous balcony draped in red, this time with the working members of the royal family, including her son Crown Prince Charles and grandson William. in uniform, as well as their wives and children.
Many spectators had taken up residence early in the morning, under a radiant sun, on the first of the four days of festivities organized for the 70 years of reign of Elizabeth II.
“It’s Kate, Camilla,” someone in the audience shouts as the wives of William and Charles pass in an open carriage, while a man, a small Union Jack-style plastic hat screwed on his head, has since regretted the last rows of the compact crowd to have “seen only two hats”, in reference to the elegant headdresses of the two women.
But more than the royal family, it was for the queen that most had made the trip. Because this platinum jubilee is unprecedented in the United Kingdom. Ascended to the throne at the age of 25 on the death of her father, George VI, on February 6, 1952, Elizabeth II is the first in the millennial history of this monarchy to display such a long reign.
His successors are unlikely to beat his record: Charles is 73, his son William soon to be 40. “The Queen’s jubilee is once in a lifetime. It’s the only time you can see it, it’s quite moving (…), magical”, says web developer Aude-Marine Danede, 30-year-old Frenchwoman “fascinated” by the monarchy.
“This may be the last time we see Her Majesty take part in a public event, we want to show our gratitude”, abounds Gilbert Falconer, 65, from Scotland. “She will be hard to replace.”
Dressed in a Union Jack print suit, Liam Roddis, 49, an employee of a local authority in the north of England, came to express his “pride” in the face of a queen whom he sees as a symbol of stability. “She got us out of a lot of tough times, she’s leading us in the right direction.”
A little disappointed that Elizabeth did not review the troops – a task left to Prince Charles because of his mobility problems – David Hare came “to celebrate with (s)a queen”. “I have been to all the (royal) weddings, sometimes spending the night,” explains this very patriotic 61-year-old pruner, a Union Jack jacket over his shoulders.
But it is also a welcome break and “simply nice to be able to celebrate for the next four days” in these difficult times which have been marked by “the Covid and this very sad war in Ukraine”.