There was the Platinum Party at Buckingham Palace with singers like Diana Ross, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Duran Duran and composers such as Andrew Llyod Weber which drew at least 22,000 people and provided a foot tapping history of pop music past and present. (Reuters)
The sun may set on the British Empire, but never on Queen Elizabeth II. Given the UK’s unpredictable weather, we had raincoats and umbrellas ready for any eventuality — but for the last few days, on Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, the four-day holiday saw almost nonstop sunshine! It added to the joyous atmosphere — as the nation’s favourite great grandmother came out dressed in pastel blue — waving to the crowd from the famous balcony at Buckingham Palace surrounded by her family.
Somehow, no matter what happens, even while facing the most dire personal problems (captured in excruciating detail in soap operas like The Crown) — she has led the nation with grace and dignity. Believing it to be her duty she has been at the helm for 70 years — and certainly her popularity has soared way above that of any elected premier.
And so like any other Londoner we have been mesmerised by the events so carefully choreographed to congratulate her. The streets were full of holiday makers who have come from all over the world to celebrate her — indeed, many of those from out of town were camping all along the South Bank, or as close to the Palace as they could get, just to get even a fleeting glimpse of the Royals, especially "Lilibet" as she was once known.
Perhaps one of the most thrilling moments was the fly past over London — what is about aircraft flying in formation that makes even those unmoved by spectacle and pomp go a little giddy?
And yes, there was speculation on the Jubilee role to be played by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and their own Lilibet (named after the Queen) who, cleverly and coincidentally (as happens only in soap operas) turned one year old this week. So they had brought her with them to meet her great grandmother… And thus some conspicuous healing was arranged within the family.
While Prince Harry and Meghan were not seen on The Balcony, and made to sit at a distance even at St Paul’s Cathedral, it was obvious that the ice had thawed and perhaps the two Californians were finally being forgiven.
However, interestingly, the spotlight finally has begun to shift to the next generation — and as the Queen could not attend some of the events — it was Prince Charles and Camilla who were able to keep the flag flying. And the good news for Charles is that, despite all the early mistrust — the country seems to have accepted him and Camilla.
But most importantly, there were a parade of hats and glorious dresses— and we must discuss what Princess Catherine and Meghan wore because they were keenly scrutinised on the one public occasion when they were seen "almost" together, at St Paul’s Cathedral. While Kate wore a primrose yellow dress from British designer, Emilia Wickstead, Meghan donned a stylish pale Dior, a designer who was a favourite of the mother -in-law she never knew — Diana. Their hats matched the outfits and unlike the lady they were celebrating there were no handbags. (The Queen never appears without one.)
However, the one person who was not actually greeted with ecstatic cheers upon his entry at St Paul’s Cathedral, was the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, alas ! He was booed fairly loudly when he walked in with his wife Carrie.
And the one person who did not attend anything at all was Prince Andrew, who was ill with Covid and in any case was probably going to be pushed even more to the background than Harry and Meghan. People have not forgotten his friendship with the alleged sex offender Epstein.
And then of course there was the Platinum Party at Buckingham Palace with singers like Diana Ross, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Duran Duran and composers such as Andrew Llyod Weber which drew at least 22,000 people and provided a foot tapping history of pop music past and present.
So the Jubilee gave loads to every generation — and while the media was full of the Queen’s contribution to the world, many just used the occasion to enjoy the incredible weather and the wonderful atmosphere. For four glorious days we all forgot the cost of living crisis, Partygate — and yes even the wars raging in other parts of the world.
Painstakingly, the organisers had ensured that there was ample memorabilia and historical material to watch and experience — especially on Sunday which had a pageant in four acts. This not only featured the 260-year-old "gold" carriage which had also taken the Queen 70 years ago to her coronation, but also "national treasures" such as Sir Cliff Richard and the chef Heston Blumenthal, alongside 500 vintage cars, and puppets. While Indian themes were mostly absent from the celebration thus far, on Sunday we saw a "sustainable saree", and much Bollywood type dancing — inspired by the marriage of the Queen to Prince Philip.
Indians were in full flow at the 6,000 street parties all over the country. Which made me wonder — we have had a difficult relationship with the UK — a contested history — but should we have celebrated her reign in a bigger way — or is it still too much about Empire? Hmmm…