Formal celebrations for the platinum anniversary kicked off Thursday with Trooping the Colour, an annual military review that marks the sovereign’s official birthday since 1760.
The Queen made her way onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace just after 12:20 p.m. (9:20 p.m. AEST), dazzling blue and holding a walking stick.
Her Majesty, who first showed up alongside Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, was to be joined by working members of the Royal Family before 70 planes roared.
The anniversary is commemorated with a four-day holiday weekend in the UK.
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 the seven-decade milestone on the throne.
The anniversary gives many people – even those who are often indifferent to the monarchy – a chance to reflect on the state of the nation and the massive changes that have taken place during its reign.
Former Prime Minister John Major – one of the 14 prime ministers of the Queen’s reign – said the monarch’s stoic presence had helped steer the country over the decades.
“The Queen has been representing our better selves for over 70 years,” he told the BBC.
In a written anniversary message, the Queen thanked people in Britain and the Commonwealth who were involved in organizing the celebrations.
“I know that many happy memories will be created on these festive occasions,” said Elizabeth.
“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.”
Congratulations came from world leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron called Elizabeth “the golden thread that binds our two countries” and one of the “very few constants” on the international stage.
“You are our friend, such a close ally, our example of service to others,” Macron said in an English-language video message to the queen.
The name of the first event of the long weekend, Trooping the Colour, refers to a regimental flag, or ‘color’, being dragged through the ranks.
Britain’s annual tradition for the Queen’s birthday is a ceremonial reenactment of how battle flags were once displayed to soldiers to ensure they would recognize a crucial rallying point if they became disoriented in battle.
The troops taking part come from the Army Housekeeping Department, which is made up of the seven regiments that perform ceremonial duties for the Queen. Their members are fully trained soldiers and are often deployed abroad when not on ceremonial duty.
Each year, a different unit has the honor of manning its color. The 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards will be in the spotlight during the Platinum Jubilee.
Thousands of people, some of whom camped overnight, lined the parade route — many of them wearing Union Jack flags, party hats or plastic tiaras.
Carly Martin, who took an overnight bus from South London with her daughter, said she had come “to reminisce”.
“You’ll never see this again in your life,” she said.
“Not in mine anyway, maybe not in my daughter’s…70 years—it’s all I’ve ever known.”
The Queen is expected to make two appearances on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, but Prince Charles will play a key role in the event, greeting passing soldiers on behalf of his mother.
Elizabeth has been struggling to make ends meet lately and her courtiers have gone out of their way to make it as easy as possible for her.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be watching the spectacle along with other members of the royal family. The couple has traveled from their California home to participate in the celebrations.
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