Four days of celebrations honoring Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne kicked off on Thursday with a display of British military traditions ranging from the days of the horse and cannon to the age of the jet.
Official Platinum Jubilee celebrations began with Trooping the Colour, an annual military parade that has marked the sovereign’s official birthday since 1760. The Queen saluted on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and was later joined by serving members of his family at the end. of the event, when 70 planes are set to roar overhead.
The Jubilee is commemorated with a four-day holiday weekend. The celebration of Elizabeth’s reign includes a service of thanksgiving on Friday at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, a concert at Buckingham Palace on Saturday and a performance put on by thousands of performers from schools and community groups of the country on Sunday afternoon.
Throughout the weekend, neighborhood organizations and individuals are expected to hold thousands of street parties across the country, repeating a tradition that began with the Queen’s coronation in 1953.
The 96-year-old Queen is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the first to reach seven decades on the throne. The jubilee gives many people – even those who are often indifferent to the monarchy – the opportunity to reflect on the state of the nation and the enormous changes that have taken place during its reign.
Former Prime Minister John Major – one of 14 prime ministers during the Queen’s reign – said the monarch’s stoic presence had helped lead the country over the decades.
“The Queen has represented us better for over 70 years,” he told the BBC.
In a written jubilee message, the Queen thanked those in Britain and across the Commonwealth involved in organizing the celebrations. For many, the occasion is the first occasion for a big party since the coronavirus pandemic began more than two years ago.
“I know many happy memories will be created on these festive occasions,” Elizabeth said.
“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me and hope that the next few days will be an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved over the past 70 years as we look to the future. future with confidence and enthusiasm,” she said. said.
Congratulations arrived from world leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron called Elizabeth “the golden thread that connects our two countries” and “very few constants” on the international scene.
“You are our friend, such a close ally, our example of service to others,” Macron told the Queen in a video message in English.
Former US President Barack Obama recalled the Queen’s “grace and generosity” during her first visit to the palace. He said he “learned so much from seeing her example that she set for all of us who have had the privilege of serving.”
“Your life has been a gift, not just to the UK but to the world,” Obama said in a video message, adding, “May the light of your crown continue to reign supreme.”
The name of the first event of the long weekend, Trooping the Colour, refers to a regimental flag, or “color”, which is flown in the ranks. Britain’s annual tradition for the Queen’s birthday is a ceremonial re-enactment of how battle flags were once shown to soldiers to ensure they would recognize a crucial rallying point if they became disoriented in combat.
The participating troops come from the Household Division of the Army, made up of the seven regiments that perform ceremonial duties for the Queen. Their members are fully trained soldiers and often deployed overseas when not on ceremonial duty.
Each year, a different unit has the honor of displaying its color. The 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards will be honored during the Platinum Jubilee.
Thousands of people, some of whom camped out overnight, lined the parade route, many sporting Union Jack flags, party hats or plastic tiaras.
Carly Martin, who took a late night bus from south London with her daughter, said she came “to make memories”.
“You will never see this again in your lifetime,” she said. “At least not at my place, maybe not at my daughter’s. … Seventy years – that’s all I’ve ever known.
Several demonstrators were arrested after passing barriers and on the parade route. The group Animal Rebellion claimed responsibility, saying the protesters were “demanding the royal lands be reclaimed”.
Cheers and hoofbeats sounded as horse-drawn carriages ferried members of the royal family, including Prince William’s wife, Kate, and their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, from Buckingham Palace at Horse Guards Parade, a ceremonial parade ground about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles).
The Queen has appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace twice, but Prince Charles plays a key role in the event. Mounted on horseback, he received the salute from the ranks of the scarlet-clad guards on behalf of his mother, along with his sister, Princess Anne, and son, Prince William.
Elizabeth has been having trouble getting around lately, and her courtiers have been careful to make things as easy as possible for her.
Members of the Royal Family, including Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, traveled by horse-drawn carriage to watch the ceremony from a building overlooking the parade ground.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will join other members of the Royal Family to watch the show. Harry and Meghan traveled from their home in California to take part in the celebrations.
Queen Elizabeth was all smiles on Sunday as she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee outside Window Castle.