Elizabeth II made a surprise appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on Sunday, the last day of celebrations with the scent of a change of era. The 96-year-old monarch, who has difficulty walking, has stayed away from the main festivities organized for her 70-year reign, a record longevity.
She did not attend the religious ceremony on Friday, nor her beloved horse races on Saturday, nor the giant concert in front of her palace, and did not speak in public.
A surprise appearance
She surprised her subjects by returning to the famous balcony, where the British monarchy has marked major events for more than a century and where it launched the four-day feast on Thursday. Accompanied by her heirs Prince Charles, 73, and William, soon to be 40, with wives and children, embodying the future of the monarchy, she greeted the tens of thousands of people massed on the Mall, the avenue leading to the palace. Leaning on a cane, dressed in green, she stayed while the anthem “God Save The Queen” was played and then left.
Its exit had not been announced and was the subject of speculation throughout the parade concluding its jubilee through central London, which saw a succession of 260-year-old golden carriages, soldiers in ceremonial dress come from all over the Commonwealth, then actors, dancers and even puppets of corgis, his favorite dogs, for a carnival-like parade.
It was only fifteen minutes before her appearance that the suspense was lifted: the flag was raised at the top of the mast overlooking the palace, a sign that the monarch is there, delighting the public present.
Tea with Paddington
Across the United Kingdom, tens of thousands of lunches and picnics between neighbors were organized on Sunday despite rainy weather to joyfully celebrate the historic reign of an extremely popular queen, both close and mysterious, a reassuring symbol of stability in a century of great upheaval.
Throughout the festivities, Elizabeth II left her heirs in the foreground, confirming her gradual withdrawal in recent months and the impression of many participants of the celebrations of the end of an era, after an unprecedented reign that began on February 6 1952 in a United Kingdom still a colonial Empire and subject to post-war rationing.
In addition to her appearance on the balcony, however, she marked her presence with another surprise on Saturday evening. Known for her sense of duty but also her humor, the queen had shot a short video where she has tea with Paddington bear, a clumsy icon of British children’s literature.
“Scent of Farewell”
The latest festivities put an end to a four-day break for the British in a period of runaway inflation and political scandals. Many of the participants in the festivities were aware of the historical dimension of the moment. Never has a British monarch reigned so long and it is unlikely that this 70-year record will be broken in the future given the age of his heirs.
“Inevitably, these celebrations had a flavor of farewell,” said columnist Tony Parsons in the tabloid. The Sun. “There has been genuine joy abroad and in this country over the past few days. But there is also the keen awareness that we will never see a monarch like that again. »