DANICA KIRK, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) – Turn off the beacons, clean up the stage, roll up the garlands. The party is over.
After four days of parades, street parties and a gala celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th birthday on the throne, the Platinum Jubilee celebrations ended on Sunday with a wave of the Queen from Buckingham Palace and a crowd outside singing “God Save the Queen.”
But as the homage to Elizabeth’s life in service begins to fade, Britain is left with the reality that the second Elizabethan age is in its twilight.
The 96-year-old monarch, limited in recent months by what the palace calls “episodic mobility problems,” made only three public appearances during the jubilee. Her son and heir, Prince Charles, 73, filled in for her at other events.
Political cartoons of world leaders
“Inevitably, someday we will lose her. So that would be sort of the end of the golden reign, wouldn’t it?” historian and royal biographer Hugo Vickers told The Associated Press. “That’s why I find it has a bit of sadness in it.”
This truth was a subtext of the events of the weekend, when newspapers, TV screens and even the walls of the palace were filled with images of Elizabeth transforming from a charming young queen in a crown and diamonds into a grandmother of the world, known for her ubiquitous handbag and love of horses. and corgi.
Elizabeth is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the only ruler most people have ever known.
This longevity has engendered a deep affection for the Queen. The question for the House of Windsor is whether the public will pass on those feelings to Charles when the time comes.
From the first military review to the final theatrical performance in front of the palace, the royal family sought to justify this continuity by emphasizing the historical traditions of the monarchy and its role as a unifying institution that helps the country celebrate its successes and provides comfort in difficult times. sadness.
Charles was front and center, filling in for his mother.
Wearing a ceremonial scarlet tunic and bearskin cap, he paraded troops during the Queen’s birthday parade on Thursday. The next day, he was the last guest to enter St. Paul’s Cathedral and took his place in front of the church for a service of thanksgiving in honor of the Queen. At a star-studded concert in front of Buckingham Palace on Saturday, he paid tribute to the woman he addressed, “Your Majesty, Mommy.”
The members of the royal family know that they have a job. Over the past year, the monarchy has been bombarded with accusations of racism and bullying, a sex scandal involving Prince Andrew and demands to apologize for Britain’s historic role in enslaving millions of Africans.
But if the Windsors wanted to prove the enduring popularity of all things royal, they needed to look no further than the tens of thousands of people who filled the streets and parks around Buckingham Palace to clap, wave the Union flag and say, “Thank you, ma’am.” “Over the past four days.
Showing public support is critical to the survival of the monarchy, according to royal historian Ed Owens.
“The anniversary is defined not only by the presence of the Queen, but by many other actors, and one of the key actors … is the British public,” said Owens, author of The Family Firm: Monarchy, the Media and the British Public 1932-1953. “All these events play out to the British public … the jubilee is as much a celebration of the British people in the British nation as the Queen herself.”
From the moment of accession to the throne after the death of his father in Feb. On September 6, 1952, Elizabeth was a symbol of stability as Britain experienced the end of an empire, the dawn of the Information Age, and mass migration that turned the country into a multicultural society.
Throughout this time, the Queen strengthened her bond with the nation through a seemingly endless series of public appearances as she opened libraries, specialized hospitals, and paid homage to serving citizens.
Actor and writer Stephen Fry captured this lifelong service, far from the glitzy state occasions and military parades garnering media attention, when he delivered his tribute during an anniversary concert Saturday night outside Buckingham Palace.
“How many local treatment facilities has Her Majesty opened with a radiant smile? How many plaques are open? How many trees have been planted? How many ribbons have been cut, how many ships have been launched? Fry asked, drawing chuckles from the crowd. “How many prime ministers have been tolerated? That alone is not admirable.”
While they’d love to see more of the Queen, fans like Anne Middleton, 61, seemed to understand the limitations of her health issues.
Middleton, head of human resources, traveled to London from her home in Wales for the long holiday weekend. With red, white and blue nail polish and a dress covered in Union and Wales flags, she and her friends watched Saturday’s camp chair concert in St James’s Park.
“We wanted to go out and let her know we’re there for her too,” Middleton said. “Because she was always there for us.”
The Queen’s public appearances during the jubilee were brief but symbolic, highlighting the three pillars of her reign: personal public relations, strong ties to the military, and support for the Commonwealth, a group of 54 nations that previously had colonial ties to Britain.
On Thursday afternoon, she joined other senior members of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch the overflight of 70 military aircraft and wave to supporters who filled the street below. Later, she took part in the lighthouse lighting ceremony at Windsor Palace, which was the culmination of an event that swept the Commonwealth.
The weekend ended with yet another exit to the balcony for a cheering crowd, this time accompanied only by Prince Charles and his wife and Prince William with his wife and children.
The message couldn’t be clearer: here is the present and future of the monarchy.
Robert Lacey, royal historian and consultant for the Netflix series The Crown, believes the royal family’s connection to the British public will continue.
“There is magic in the royal family. If you don’t want to take it, that’s up to you,” he said.
“But for many Britons, the magical moment is when the Queen or Prince Charles… shows up in the neighborhood,” he said. says, “You matter and you are part of the bigger picture, society, community.”
Follow AP reporting on British royalty at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii.
Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.