Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee: Why this weekend’s celebrations matter to the UK

Britain is preparing for a long weekend of glitz, processions, parties and prayers to celebrate Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

The occasion marks 70 years on the throne for the monarch. But behind the official and unofficial celebrations is the drive to show that the royal family still remains important after seven decades of change.

“The monarchy is not elected, so the only way a monarch can prove their consent is not through the ballot box, but through the people who pour into the streets,” said Robert Lacey, historical adviser on the hit TV series. of Netflix. “The crown”. “If the monarch shows up on the balcony and greets and there is no one there, this is a fairly accurate judgment on the monarchy.

“Well, when it comes to Elizabeth, it was the other way around. People can’t wait to get together and cheer together.”

The royals, sometimes criticized as strangers to modern Britain, want to show that their support comes from all parts of a society that has become more multicultural due to immigration from the Caribbean, South Asia and, more recently, from Eastern Europe.

As part of the jubilee procession, dancers from London’s Afro-Caribbean community will wear costumes of giant flamingos, zebras and giraffes to reimagine the moment in 1952 when Princess Elizabeth learned she became queen while visiting a playground in Kenya.

Another group will remember the Queen’s wedding in 1947 to Prince Philip and celebrate weddings that take place across the Commonwealth with Bollywood-style dances.

The jubilee is also an opportunity for royalty to demonstrate their commitment to change and diversity, something the Queen has sought to embody as she traveled the world for the past 70 years.

Emily Nash, UK Royal Editor HI! magazineshe said: “She has been everywhere and engaged with people from all walks of life, of all creeds, colors and faiths.

“I think it’s easy to see, in the kind of glitz and glitz, perhaps, more of a lack of diversity. But if you look at what the royal family actually does, the people they interact with, the places they go to, I think maybe it’s a bit unfair to say it’s not as varied as it could be. “

Events to capture the attention of the public

If the out of stock at the Cool Britannia gift shop is any indication, the jubilee was cause for excitement. The shop around the corner from Buckingham Palace is out of Platinum Jubilee tea towels. Spoons are scarce. Cups are in short supply.

And it’s not just foreign tourists who are buying all of Elizabeth II’s stuff, but visitors from all over the UK are also looking for jubilee mementos, said Ismayil Ibrahim, the man behind the counter.

“It’s a very special year,” he said. “They celebrate it as a great event”.

The question for the House of Windsor is whether the royalists will transfer their love for the queen to her son and heir, Prince Charles, when the time comes.

It’s a problem stemming, in part, from the Queen’s unprecedented long reign – the longest in British history. The only monarch most people have ever known has become synonymous with the monarchy itself.

Having ascended the throne following her father’s death on February 6, 1952, Elizabeth became a symbol of stability as the country negotiated the end of the Empire, the birth of the information age and the waves of immigration that turned Britain into a multicultural society.

The shy woman with a purse, corgis in tow and a passion for horses presided over an era that gave birth to the Monty Python, the Beatles and the Sex Pistols. People who thought they knew about her who thought wrong, as evidenced by her starring role as a Bond Girl at the London 2012 Olympics.

Through it all, the queen built a bond with the nation through a seemingly endless series of public appearances as she opened libraries, dedicated hospitals and bestowed honors on deserving citizens.

Challenges for an aging monarch

The past two years have been pivotal, as the queen has alternately consoled a nation isolated from COVID-19 and thanked doctors and nurses who have battled the disease.

But the frailties of the monarchy were also on display when the 96-year-old buried her husband, Prince Philip, and was slowed down by health problems that forced her to hand over important public positions to Charles.

This came amid all too public tensions with Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, who made allegations of racism and bullying in the royal house, e sordid accusations about the ties of his son, Prince Andrew to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

In this context, the jubilee is also part of an effort to prepare the public for the day when Charles will ascend the throne. Now 73, Charles has spent much of his life preparing to become king, while maintaining a suffocating image that wasn’t helped by his ugly divorce from Princess Diana.

Charles will reportedly play a key role during the first jubilee weekend event, greeting passing soldiers at the annual military review known as Trooping the Color. The Queen will attend the 400-plus-year ceremony that marks her official birthday if she feels up to her, but she will decide the day.

Elizabeth, who only recently recovered from COVID-19 and started using a walking stick, has given Charles an increasingly important role as the public face of the monarchy.

Earlier this month, she replaced her mother when what the building describes as “episodic mobility problems” prevented her from presiding over the state opening of Parliament.

However, in the following days, she showed up at a horse show, opened a London Underground line named after her, and visited the Chelsea Flower Show in a chauffeured golf cart.

“There is no project for a reign of this length, and as a result, I think the palace and courtiers have to improvise all the time,” said Ed Owens, royal historian and author of “The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British public 1932-1953 “.

“In the case of Elizabeth II, we have not had such an old monarch who has reigned for so long and is so significant to so many people that they must essentially transfer his role to the next in line.”