LONDON (AFP) – The royal flag has been hoisted over Buckingham Palace, indicating that Queen Elizabeth II may appear during the final day of celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the throne.
Known as the royal standard, the flag is raised over one of the palaces only when the Queen is in residence.
The 96-year-old has only made two appearances during the four-day platinum jubilee, dampening the celebrations for some fans who had been hoping to catch a glimpse of the monarch. Elizabeth has scaled back her schedule in recent months due to mobility issues.
The level was last raised at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, before Elizabeth stood on the balcony and waved to her supporters after the Queen’s birthday parade. Later in the day, she attended the National Lighthouse Lighting Ceremony at Windsor Castle, the royal residence 20 miles (32 kilometres) west of London where she has spent most of the past two years.
This is an urgent news update. The previous story for the Associated Press follows below.
LONDON (AFP) – A colorful street contest that celebrated the life of Queen Elizabeth II and highlighted Britain’s diversity ran in central London on Sunday, the last day of a long weekend in honor of the Queen’s 70th accession to the throne. Royal fans had been hoping to catch another glimpse of the 96-year-old later at Buckingham Palace, where the show ends.
With the bells ringing at Westminster Abbey, the celebration began with a spectacular military parade of 200 horses marching down the mall to Buckingham Palace. They surrounded the Golden State Coach, a golden chariot that took the Queen to her coronation 69 years ago.
The Queen did not participate in the competition – although a virtual version of her, taken from an archival video of her coronation in 1953, appeared on the windows of the bus.
After the pomp and processions, came a mix 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. About 6,000 artists walked along a three-kilometre (nearly two miles) road lined with a sea of Union flags, telling the story of the Queen’s life with dances, vintage cars, vibrant costumes, carnival music and giant puppets.
Here were some of Britain’s best cultural exports, from the Daleks in “Doctor Who” to James Bond’s Aston Martins. Celebrities including singer Cliff Richard danced and sang from open-top double-decker buses meant to represent the sights and sounds of each decade of the 1950s.
Thousands of people took to the streets of London, and spectators and participants alike spoke of excitement and pride in their Queen and their country.
“It’s such an honor to be a part of this, we have the best queen in the world, right? The best in the world,” said Warren Jobson, the biker who took part in the show.
Organizers say the competition is expected to be watched by 1 billion people around the world.
The keenest Royal fans braved the wet and cold weather and camped in the mall overnight to secure the best view of the competition. Some came for the celebrities who would perform, while others wanted to be part of a historic moment.
“It’s part of history, and it’s never going to happen again. It’s something special, so if you’re going to do it you have to go big or come home,” said Shawn Wallen, 50.
The Queen did not join her family at the Royal Trust to watch the competition. Prince Harry and his wife Meghan also made their first family trip to the UK since they gave up royal duties and moved to the US in 2020. The couple stayed largely out of the limelight during their platinum jubilee events.
The Queen has not appeared in public at the Platinum Jubilee events since Thursday, when she smiled and waved with her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. She has limited her appearances in recent months due to what the palace describes as “occasional mobility issues”. She also had COVID-19 this spring.
However, she delighted the country when she appeared in a surprise comedy video that opened a Saturday party in front of Buckingham Palace. In the video, the King has tea with the computer-animated Paddington Bear She revealed that, just like the furry character, she was biased towards marmalades and liked to keep them in her handbag.
Diana Ross and rock band Queens headlined the star-studded tribute party Saturday night, which also featured Rod Stewart, Doran Duran, Alicia Keys and Andrea Bocelli.
Prince Charles, the Queen’s eldest son and heir to the throne, has highlighted his mother’s role as a symbol of unity and stability through the decades.
“Your Majesty, my mother,” said Charles, addressing the Queen, “you are laughing and crying with us, and most importantly, you have been there for us all these seventy years.”
On Sunday, Charles and his wife Camilla mingled with the crowds at The Oval Cricket Ground in London for the “Great Jubilee Lunch”. Likewise, millions across the country have set long tables, balloons, and picnic fare for street parties and similar national barbecues.
Later on Sunday, celebrities, including singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, will select “God Save The Queen” outside Buckingham Palace as the finale for the competition. Many hope the King will once again appear on the balcony to cap the weekend of festivities.
Joe Kearny, Srdjan Nedelijkovic, and Maria Grazia Moro contributed to this report.
Follow all the Associated Press stories about Britain’s royal family at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii.
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