On the evening of the first day of celebrations of her 70th birthday, Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday, June 2, that Queen Elizabeth II will miss her jubilee Mass on Friday. “The Queen really enjoyed the birthday parade and the air show today, but she felt some discomfort.”said the palace.
It was the highlight of the four-day celebrations of the platinum jubilee of the 96-year-old ultra-popular sovereign. Elizabeth II was hailed earlier in the day by tens of thousands of people on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Becoming rare in public due to her declining health, the sovereign nonetheless remains a symbol of stability, despite the upheavals the country is going through. The queen is thus appreciated for her tireless dedication, impeccable neutrality and pinch-no-laugh humor.
Concerns about the sovereign’s health
“In considering the journey and activity required for the Thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Her Majesty reluctantly concluded that she would not participate.” at Friday Mass, the palace added. This announcement raises concerns about the health of the ultra-popular sovereign, who is struggling to walk and whose official appearances have become increasingly rare since one night in the hospital in October.
Elizabeth II ascended the throne at the age of 25 on February 6, 1952, on the death of her father George VI. canes. She was accompanied by the Duke of Kent, a German cousin, Colonel of the Scots Guards – one of the elite regiments of the British Royal Guard – who greeted the participants in the annual military parade of the “Salute to the Colors”.
She returned to the balcony a little later, for an air flight of the Royal Air Force, this time accompanied by members of the royal family who have official duties and their children. So absent were Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who watched the parade discreetly from another building, for their first return together to the UK since their smashing departure for California in 2020. Also missing was Prince Andrew, who paid millions of dollars to end a sexual assault complaint.
For this holiday, a dense crowd, colored with flags and portraits of the queen, massed along the Mall, an avenue leading to the palace.
On horseback, the heirs of Elizabeth II, Princes Charles and William, paraded in the famous red bear-length long-haired outfit for the traditional annual parade, bringing together more than 1,200 soldiers and hundreds of musicians. Their respective wives, Camilla and Kate, arrived in the carriage with the latter’s three children, George, Charlotte and Louis.
No British ruler has ever ruled as long as Elizabeth II. Another is unlikely to achieve such longevity: Charles, the Crown Prince, is 73 years old, and his son William is soon to be 40 years old.
For the British, this jubilee brings respite and a moment of communion after several years of tears around Brexit and strict confinements due to the Covid-19, now followed by soaring prices.
Giant banners, flags and portraits were hung on the streets across the UK. After Thursday’s parade, the Queen is due to light a 21-meter-tall tree-shaped sculpture in front of Buckingham Palace in the distance from Windsor Castle. Then there will be a mass on Friday, a giant concert on Saturday and, above all, tens of thousands of popular gatherings, including giant picnics on Sunday.
End of reign
“I hope that the next few days will be an opportunity to reflect on all that has been accomplished over the past 70 years, while looking to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.”said in a written message the Sovereign, Head of State of Fifteen Kingdoms, from the United Kingdom to Canada via New Zealand.
Congratulations flowed from around the world, with French President Emmanuel Macron saluting “Dedication” to “Unfailing friendship” Franco-British. Even the Irish Republican Sinn Fein party has highlighted its role in the peace process in Northern Ireland, a long-unimaginable move by the former IRA political showcase.
The appearances of Elizabeth II, which have become rare, are highly anticipated. Thursday’s was not confirmed until Wednesday night by the palace. Because her health is worrying: since one night in hospital in October, she has canceled almost all of her official appearances. Weakened since the death of her husband Philip last year, she has difficulty walking. She shows no desire to abdicate, however, and has made several surprise appearances recently, smiling and relaxed.
In this end-of-reign atmosphere, the monarchy is facing growing criticism, especially in the former colonies, of the British Empire’s enslaving past. In the UK, the Queen remains very popular with her subjects with 75% favorable opinions according to the YouGov Institute, but her heir Charles is much less appreciated (50%). Only 39% of Britons believe that the institution will still exist in a hundred years.