In a crowning moment for her Platinum Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II has appeared at the balcony of Buckingham Palace, delighting fans who had hoped to catch a glimpse of her during the final day of festivities marking the monarch’s 70 years on the throne.
The 96-year-old monarch has curtailed her schedule in recent months due to problems moving around. Prior to Sunday, the queen had only appeared in public twice during the four-day holiday weekend celebrations. Officials said she experienced “discomfort” during those events on Thursday.
Thousands massed outside Buckingham Palace for the climax of a boisterous, colourful pageant cheered as the monarch appeared on the balcony with her son and heir, Prince Charles, his wife Camilla, and her eldest grandson Prince William and his family.
The queen, dressed in bright green, waved and smiled after the crowds belted out God Save The Queen. Her appearance, which only lasted a few minutes, was followed by a crowd-pleasing performance of ABBA’s Dancing Queen.
It was an uplifting finale to a massive street pageant celebrating the queen’s life and highlighting Britain’s diversity. Thousands of people turned out on the streets of London, many speaking with excitement and pride about their queen and country.
Sunday’s pageant began with a spectacular military parade featuring 200 horses marching down the Mall to Buckingham Palace.
They flanked the gold state coach, a gilded carriage that transported the Queen to her coronation 69 years ago. A virtual version of her, drawn from archival video from her 1953 coronation, was shown at the coach’s windows.
After the pomp and pageantry came a melange of acts celebrating the diversity of modern Britain and the Commonwealth, from hip hop and Bollywood dancers to drag queens and Mardi Gras style floats. Some 6000 performers paraded along a three-kilometre route lined with a sea of Union Jack flags, telling the story of the queen’s life with dance, vintage cars, vibrant costumes, carnival music and giant puppets.
Some of Britain’s best-loved cultural exports were here, from the Daleks in Doctor Who to James Bond’s sleek Aston Martins. Celebrities including singer Cliff Richard danced and sang from open-top double decker buses designed to represent the sights and sounds of each decade, beginning with the 1950s.
Organisers expected the pageant was watched by one billion people around the world.
The keenest royal fans braved the wet, chilly weather and camped out on the Mall overnight to secure the best view of the pageant. Some came to see the celebrities who performed — like Ed Sheeran, who sang his song Perfect while a huge video screen showed pictures of the Queen and her family — while others just wanted to be part of a historical moment.
The Queen did not join her family in the royal box watching the pageant. Nor did Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, who made their first family trip to the UK since they stepped away from royal duties and moved to the US in 2020.
The couple came to the UK for the big holiday weekend, but largely stayed out of the limelight during the Platinum Jubilee events.