HASfter making an appearance on the Buckingham Balcony on the first day of her Platinum Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II has said that due to “some discomfort” she will miss a church service scheduled for Friday morning. “The Queen enjoyed the parade for her birthday today (Thursday) and the flypast very much, but she felt some discomfort,” Buckingham Palace said. “Taking into consideration the route and activity required for the service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Her Majesty has reluctantly concluded that she will not be attending,” he added.
This announcement rekindles concerns about the declining state of health of the ultra-popular 96-year-old sovereign, who has difficulty walking and whose official appearances have become increasingly rare since a night in the hospital in October. Thursday, to the delight of the tens of thousands of spectators gathered for the kick-off of four days of festivities, she however appeared twice on the balcony of the palace, smiling and dressed in a dove-blue ensemble, leaning motionless on a cane.
Ascended to the throne at the age of 25, on February 6, 1952, on the death of her father George VI, she was first accompanied by the Duke of Kent, a cousin, for the passage of the annual military parade of the “Salut aux couleurs”, bringing together more than 1,200 soldiers and hundreds of musicians. She returned to the balcony soon after, for a fly-over, this time accompanied by 17 members of the royal family who have official duties and their children. The facial expressions of his great-grandson Louis, 4, the youngest of Prince William’s children, melted the public.
Deprived of a balcony, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan watched the parade discreetly from another building, for their first public return to the United Kingdom since their sensational departure from California in 2020. Also missing was Prince Andrew, who paid million dollars to end a sexual assault complaint. He will also be absent from Saint Paul’s Cathedral, as he tested positive for Covid-19.
For this holiday, a dense crowd, colored with flags and portraits of the queen, had massed along the Mall, the avenue leading to the palace. Some said they felt like they were living the last great appearance of the nonagenarian queen, loved for her sense of duty, her irreproachable neutrality and her tongue-in-cheek humor. “It only happens once in a lifetime”, explains to Agence France-Presse Mark Cornell, who came especially from the north of England, who nevertheless assures that he is not an unconditional fan of the monarchy: “They must reinvent itself for new generations. »
Never has a British sovereign reigned as long as Elizabeth. It is unlikely that another will achieve such longevity: Charles, the crown prince, who is 73 and increasingly taking over, and his son William, soon to be 40. For this Jubilee pennants, flags and giant portraits have been hung in the streets across the UK, shop windows are filled with memorabilia and sales of liquor and cake typically british exploded.
End of reign atmosphere
Buckingham Palace has confirmed that the Queen will light in the evening, remotely from Windsor Castle where she resides, a 21-metre-high tree-shaped sculpture located in front of Buckingham Palace. A giant concert is then planned for Saturday, but also tens of thousands of popular gatherings, including giant picnics on Sunday. “I hope that the next few days will be an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved over the past 70 years, while looking to the future with confidence and enthusiasm,” the sovereign, head of the country, said in a written message. state of 15 kingdoms, from the United Kingdom to Canada to New Zealand.
Congratulations poured in from around the world, with French President Emmanuel Macron hailing his “dedication” to the Franco-British “unwavering friendship”. Even Irish Republican Party Sinn Fein has highlighted its role in the Northern Ireland peace process, a move long unimaginable from the former IRA political showcase.
In this atmosphere of end of reign, the monarchy is confronted with growing criticism, particularly in the former colonies, concerning the slavery past of the British Empire. In the United Kingdom, the queen remains very loved by her subjects with 75% of favorable opinions, according to the YouGov institute, but her heir Charles is much less appreciated (50%). Only 39% of Britons think the institution will still exist in 100 years.