Celebrations to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee have kicked off in London and around the UK, with huge crowds lining the streets of the British capital to catch a glimpse of the festivities.
Most important points:
- Thousands of people have flocked to London as celebrations begin for the Queen’s platinum jubilee, marking 70 years of her reign
- Protesters have interrupted a marching band during the Trooping the Color military parade outside Buckingham Palace
- Police have warned people to stay away from the viewing area area that is already full
The Queen appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with other working royals as the Royal Air Force performed a flyover with the Red Arrows aerobatic flying team and historic military aircraft.
It was her second public appearance of the day – previously she appeared with a beaming smile next to her cousin, the Duke of Kent, on the same balcony to welcome the crowd.
She wore a light blue outfit that she also wore for her official anniversary portrait and used a walking stick to get to the balcony.
Thursday marks not only the beginning of the Jubilee, but also the 69th anniversary of the coronation of Elizabeth, who became Queen after the death of her father George VI in February 1952.
The Platinum Jubilee will feature four days of celebrations, parades and pageantry to pay tribute to the 96-year-old monarch and her 70-year reign on the British throne.
The celebrations kicked off on Thursday morning with Trooping the Colour, a military parade performed by members of the British Army that dates back to the 17th century.
Part of the parade was interrupted by several protesters, who jumped the crush barriers and ran to the Mall boulevard in front of Buckingham Palace and lay down on the road for a marching band.
The police were quick to drag the men away.
By mid-morning, police had to warn people to stay away from the event, with viewing sites filling up quickly.
“Viewing areas in central London for the Queen’s platinum anniversary celebrations are now full,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
“To avoid the disappointment of not being able to enter the viewing areas, avoid the area.”
Earlier on Thursday, the Queen thanked everyone involved in the celebration of her platinum anniversary.
“I remain inspired by the goodwill that has been shown to me, and I hope the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved over the past 70 years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.”
The arrival of the first senior royals in a carriage – Kate, the wife of Prince William, her three young children and Camilla, the wife of Prince Charles’s heir apparent – was met with loud cheers.
Prince Charles, 73, Prince William, 39, and the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, arrived on horseback.
Charles and William will perform other ceremonial duties on behalf of the Queen, although much consideration will be given to those who will not attend.
Second son Prince Andrew, 62, who settled a US lawsuit in February in which he was accused of sexually abusing American woman Virginia Roberts Giuffre when she was 17, did not attend.
It was announced later on Thursday that Andrew, the Duke of York, would not attend the National Service of Thanksgiving on Friday after testing positive for COVID-19.
The BBC said it was clear the Duke had met the Queen in recent days, but not since he tested positive.
Prince Harry, who now lives in Los Angeles with his wife Meghan, attended the parade but was absent when the royal family gathered on the palace balcony to watch the flight fly by.
‘Our duty to come and celebrate’
As the planes flew overhead, the crowds cheered loudly and waved Union Jack flags.
Tens of thousands gathered in the gardens and streets surrounding the palace to catch a glimpse of the military parade.
Brisbane couple Sheryl and Morris Blanchard extended their London holiday to attend the anniversary, describing the moment as a “once in a lifetime experience”.
“We just had to come, nobody does the pomp like the British do,” said Ms Blanchard.
Catching a glimpse of the Duchess of Cambridge and her children was a highlight for Mrs Blanchard.
“Seeing the royal family, especially the beautiful Kate and the children, smiling and waving,” she said.
“It was really fantastic.”
Faithful monarchist Robert Oliphant said it is a “historic and proud moment for all of Britain”.
He traveled over 200 miles from Nottingham with his wife and dog Ruby to attend the event, as well as attending the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 10 years ago.
“It’s a one-off, I don’t think we’ll see anything like that again,” Oliphant said.
Many other fans had traveled for days for the monumental occasion.
Natalie Pettit had planned her vacation from Ohio in the United States to be in the United Kingdom for the birthday.
“I think it’s a really good feeling to just be able to watch all the people come together and flag and cheer.”
It was a disappointing day for some onlookers who were unable to get close to the parade or the palace due to overcrowding.
Many in attendance had arrived in the early morning hours, while hundreds even camped overnight to get the best vantage point.
The Metropolitan Police was forced to close access to parts of the city because of the crowds who came to celebrate.
Instead, hordes gathered in Parliament Square, close to Big Ben, to watch the military planes fly over the city before the parade’s finale.
There were artillery guns in London, all over Britain and from Royal Navy ships at sea.
In the evening, beacons will be lit across the country and the Commonwealth, with the Queen in charge of lighting the main Platinum Jubilee Beacon at her home in Windsor Castle.
French President Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis and former British Prime Ministers were among those who sent messages of goodwill.
“I can’t think of another public figure, another celebrity, another president… who could possibly have remained so popular,” former Prime Minister John Major told BBC radio.
ABC with wires
Posted † updated
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