LONDON — Britain is gearing up for a party featuring cavalry, solemn prayers and a pack of dancing mechanical corgis.
This week, the United Kingdom will celebrate the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne with a four-day extravaganza in central London. But behind the brass bands, street parties and the ageing Queen’s planned appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony, lurks a dynamic that shows the royal family remains relevant after seven years of change.
“The monarchy is not elected, so the only way for a monarch to give consent is not through the ballot box, but through people taking to the streets,” said Robert Lacey, historical consultant for The Crown series. “If a monarch shows up on a balcony waving and there’s no one there, that’s a very clear judgment on the monarchy.
“Well, when it comes to Elizabeth, it’s the opposite. People can’t wait to get together and cheer,” he added.
The royals, sometimes criticised for being out of touch with modern Britain, want to show their support comes from all quarters of a society that has become more multicultural with immigrants from the Caribbean, South Asia and Eastern Europe.
As part of the anniversary celebrations, dancers from London’s Afro-Caribbean community will don costumes of giant flamingos, zebras and giraffes to re-imagine the 1952 Princess Elizabeth learning she has become queen during a visit to a game park in Kenya Moment. Another group will recall the Queen’s marriage to Prince Philip in 1947 and celebrate weddings across the Commonwealth with Bollywood-inspired dances.
“She was everywhere, she dealt with people from all walks of life, from all creeds, skin colors and beliefs,” Nash said. “I think it’s easy to see that in that grand and spectacular situation, maybe it’s more of a lack of diversity. But if you look at the actual work of the royal family, the people they touch, the places they go, I think saying It’s probably a little unfair that it’s not as diverse as possible.”
If the Cool Britannia gift shop’s depleted stock is any indication, the Jubilee has already caught the public’s attention. The store around the corner from Buckingham Palace has sold out of the Platinum Jubilee tea towels. There are few spoons. Cups are in short supply.
It’s not just foreign tourists who buy everything Elizabeth has to offer. Ismayil Ibrahim, the man behind the counter, said tourists from across the UK were also looking for anniversary souvenirs.
“It’s been a very special year,” he said. “They celebrated it as a big event.”
The question at Windsor Palace is whether the public will then transfer their love for the Queen to her son and heir Prince Charles.
The problem stems in part from the Queen’s unprecedented reign, the longest in British history. The only monarch known to most, she has become synonymous with the monarchy itself.
Since her accession to the throne following her father’s death on February 6, 1952, Elizabeth has been a symbol of stability as the country experienced the end of empires, the birth of the computer age and the mass immigration that transformed Britain into a multicultural society.
With a small tote bag, a trailing corgi and a passion for horses, the shy woman presided over an era that gave birth to Monty Python, the Beatles and the Sex Pistols. Those who think they know she’s wrong – she proved it when she became a Bond girl at the London 2012 Olympics.
Through it all, however, the Queen has connected with the nation through a seemingly endless series of public appearances, opening a library, a dedicated hospital and bestowing due civic honors.
Susan Dudridge felt the connection. The Somerset chief executive will dance at the Platinum Jubilee celebration 69 years after her father attended the Queen’s Coronation Parade.
“I think it’s amazing that when there’s a wedding, a royal jubilee, no matter what the royals are involved in, the country always comes together,” she said. “We love the Queen!”
The past two years have highlighted the strengths of the monarchy, as the Queen at times comforts a country isolated by COVID-19 and thanks doctors and nurses battling the disease.
But its weaknesses were exposed as the 96-year-old monarch buried her husband and was slowed down by health concerns that forced her to hand over important public duties to Charles. This comes amid public tensions between Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, who have accused the royal family of racism and bullying, and about Prince Andrew’s relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein Dirty accusations linked.
In this context, the jubilee is also part of preparing the public for the day Charles ascends the throne. Charles, 73, has spent most of his life preparing to become king and battling his somewhat dreary image that his ugly divorce from the still-beloved Princess Diana didn’t help.
According to reports, Charles may play a key role in the first event of the Jubilee Weekend, paying tribute to passing soldiers in the annual military review known as the “Parade”. If the Queen thinks it’s okay, she’ll be taking part in the 400-year-old official birthday ceremony, but she’ll decide the day.
Elizabeth, who has only recently recovered from COVID-19 and started using crutches, has given Charles an increasingly prominent role in the monarchy’s public profile. He replaced his mother earlier this month when what Palace described as “occasional mobility issues” prevented her from presiding over the state opening of parliament.
Still, in the days that followed, she showed up at horse shows, opened a subway line and visited the Chelsea Flower Show in a chauffeured royal carriage — a luxury golf cart.
Royal Historian, The Family Business: The Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public 1932-1953. “
“As far as Elizabeth II is concerned, we haven’t had a monarch so old who has reigned so long and meant so much to so many people that she had to essentially transfer her role to the next one. .”
But don’t expect the Queen to leave the scene anytime soon.
Robert Hardman, biographer and author of “The Queen of Our Time: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II,” said he expects to see a bigger party four years from now when Elizabeth turns 100.
“The 100th birthday presents an interesting prospect: will she send herself a card?” Hardman mused, referencing the Queen’s tradition of sending personal birthday cards to anyone who reaches the milestone. “I look forward to the debate in 2026.”
Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.