Platinum Jubilee: UK celebrates Queen Elizabeth's 70-year reign
LONDON - The United Kingdom is celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne, with four days of pomp and pageantry.
Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-ruling monarch in British history, was crowned when she was 25 years old. In the next seven decades, the U.K. navigated the end of its empire, the Cold War, the economic tensions of the 1980s and the challenges of an increasingly multicultural society. Now 96, her unprecedented reign has made her a symbol of stability as the United Kingdom navigated an age of uncertainty.
The U.K. is marking the queen’s jubilee June 2-June 5. Behind the brass bands, street parties and an appearance by the queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace lies a drive to show that the royal family still remains relevant.
"The monarchy is not elected, so the only way in which a monarch can demonstrate consent is not through the ballot box, but through people turning out on the streets," said Robert Lacey, the historical adviser on "The Crown″ series. "And if the monarch turns up on the balcony and waves and there’s no one there, that’s a pretty definitive judgment on the monarchy.
"Well, when it comes to Elizabeth, the opposite has been the case. People can’t wait to mass and cheer together," he added.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 02: (L-R) Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Louis of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge and Prince Wil
And the royals, sometimes criticized as out of touch with modern Britain, want to show that their support comes from all parts of a society that has become more multicultural amid immigration from the Caribbean, South Asia and Eastern Europe.
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As part of the jubilee pageant, dancers from London's African-Caribbean community will don costumes of giant flamingos, zebras and giraffes to re-imagine the moment in 1952 when Princess Elizabeth learned she had become queen while visiting a game park in Kenya. Another group will recall the queen’s 1947 marriage to Prince Philip and celebrate weddings around the Commonwealth with Bollywood-style dancing.
The acts also include a 20-foot-tall puppet of a young woman, surrounded by a pack of mischievous corgi puppets.
Platinum Jubilee Schedule of Events
Here’s a schedule of official Platinum Jubilee events, according to the Royal Family’s website:
Thursday, June 2:
- Trooping the Colour — More than 1,200 officers and soldiers will participate in the Horse Guards Parade, together with hundreds of Army musicians and around 240 horses. The yearly event has "marked the official birthday of the British Sovereign for over 260 years." The parade, which features a Royal Gun Salute, will begin at 10 a.m. UK time (5 a.m. Eastern). When it’s over, the Royal Family will make an appearance on a balcony while military planes fly over Buckingham Palace. Prince Andrew, Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, won’t be on the balcony.
- Platinum Jubilee Beacons — More than 1,500 beacons will be lit throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK overseas territories. According to the Royal Family, the beacon chain, once used as a tool for communication, "has now become a symbol of unity across towns, borders, countries and continents and is often the central point of focus for any outdoor gathering or celebration." The Royal Family will attend the lighting of the Principal beacon, involving the Tree of Trees (a 69-foot tree made of 350 smaller trees) at 9:25 p.m. UK time (4:25 p.m. Eastern time).
You can watch the events on the BBC website after they’ve aired live on television.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 02: Prince George, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte in the carriage procession at Trooping the Colour during Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee on June 02, 2022 in London, England. The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II is being celebrated from June 2 to June 5, 2022, in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952. Trooping The Colour, also known as The Queen's Birthday Parade, is a military ceremony performed by regiments of the British Army that has taken place since the mid-17th century. It marks the official birthday of the British Sovereign. This year, from June 2 to June 5, 2022, there is the added celebration of the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne on 6 February 1952. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Friday, June 3:
- Service of Thanksgiving — There will be a special Service of Thanksgiving for the queen’s reign at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Great Paul, the largest church bell in the country, will ring out in honor of the monarch. The Royal Family will arrive at the service at about 11 a.m. UK time (6 a.m. Eastern).
You can watch it on the BBC website after it's aired live on television.
Saturday, June 4:
- The Derby at Epsom Downs — Members of the Royal Family will attend the Derby at Epsom Downs, one of English racing’s "five classics." The race starts at 4 p.m. UK time (11 a.m. Eastern).
- Platinum Party at the Palace — Sir Elton John and Sir Rod Stewart are among the performers slated for the Platinum Party at the Palace, which starts at 8 p.m. UK time (3 p.m. Eastern). Members of the Royal Family will arrive at about 7:40 p.m. UK time. There will be a crowd of 22,000 at the party, including 10,000 distributed through a public ballot and 5,000 for "key workers."
You can watch it on the BBC website after it airs live on television.
A lifesize knitted Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is seen in the grounds of St Luke's Church in Holmes Chapel, north west England, on May 30, 2022. -(Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Sunday, June 5:
- The Big Jubilee Lunch: The Big Jubilee Lunch is not one event. It is tens of thousands of smaller lunches, hosted by 60,000-plus UK residents, "to share friendship, food and fun as part of this nationwide act of community friendship." According to the Royal Family, the events range from backyard BBQs to garden parties to people attempting world records for the longest street party. There are also more than 600 Big Jubilee lunches planned outside the UK.
- The Platinum Jubilee Pageant: The pageant, the culmination of the four-day celebration, will begin at 2:30 p.m. UK time (9:30 a.m. Eastern). It "will bring to life iconic moments from The Queen’s reign as well as showcasing our changing society over the past 70 years." It will be led by the Gold State Carriage, the same royal vehicle the queen rode in for her coronation in 1952, though the queen will not be riding in it. The Royal Family does, however, promise a "fabulous surprise." "Original film footage recorded on Coronation Day will be used to recreate the magic of that extraordinary occasion," the Royal Family’s website says.
You can watch it on the BBC website after it airs live on television.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.