DAILY MAIL COMMENT: The pomp, pageantry and partying begins
- Latest Platinum Jubilee news as the Queen celebrates 70 years of service
The breastplates of the Household Cavalry glinted in the sunlight, cannon boomed out a loyal salute from Hyde Park, military aircraft past and present flew overhead and patriotic well-wishers of every colour and creed thronged The Mall.
This country may not always get everything right, but we certainly know how to put on a show. And how to enjoy it to the full.
The cynics who desperately hoped that the monarchy may have lost its sheen and this Platinum Jubilee would be a damp squib were sorely disappointed yesterday.
In its pageantry, its inclusivity and its sheer unbridled exuberance, it was in fact a technicolour snapshot of all that’s best in this diverse and storied nation of ours.
(From left) Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence, Princess Anne, Camilla, Prince Charles, the Queen, Prince Louis, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Prince William and Sophie, Countess of Wessex at Buckingham Palace today
And overseeing it all from her vantage point at Buckingham Palace was the sovereign they had all come to pay tribute to. The woman who, 70 years ago, became Queen Elizabeth II.
Four days of pomp and partying got off to a spectacular start with Trooping the Colour, the ceremony which has marked the official birthday of a monarch for more than 260 years.
A little frail in recent times, especially since losing her beloved husband of 73 years, Her Majesty allowed Prince Charles to take the salute.
But, flanked by close family on the palace balcony, her expression showed she was enjoying herself at least as much as her subjects. A nation and its sovereign united in celebration.
Her vitality and good humour were all the more impressive when we learned later that she had been suffering mobility issues. As a result, she will be unable to attend today’s thanksgiving service at St Paul’s.
The presence of Harry and Meghan, who was clearly having enormous fun with young royals, was cheering after all the acrimony of the past two years. Tomorrow marks the first birthday of their daughter Lilibet, who is expected to meet her great-grandmother for the first time, adding to the sense of hoped-for reconciliation.
Andrew will be the only notable absentee from the festivities. He is said to have contracted Covid, though given the depth of his Epstein disgrace, he was already a serious danger to the family’s health. The Queen may regret it, but his absence will be a blessing.
It’s bizarre to think that no one in this country under the age of 70 has known any other monarch. (By contrast, there were three different kings in 1936 alone.) But, as well as celebrating her remarkable reign, it’s natural to reflect on the succession.
After a painful public divorce, Charles has developed into a thoughtful and admired heir to the throne and wife Camilla his well-liked and able foil.
William and Kate have worked hard to burnish the reputation of the family and, after the Queen, are the most popular royals. One feels the monarchy will be safe in their hands.
For now, however, it is all about the Queen. And yesterday was just the start.
Beacons were being lit across the Commonwealth, there is the St Paul’s service and a cornucopia of entertainment at the Platinum Party at the Palace tomorrow.
Sunday sees the Big Jubilee Lunch – for which 60,000 people have signed up – featuring a world record attempt for the longest street party and a host of peculiarly British eccentricities.
In the Mail’s 1953 Coronation coverage, we quoted an American observer saying: ‘When I first saw all those folk lining up I said: “They’re nuts.” Today I saw the parade. There is nothing on earth to touch it.’
Though life is very different now from how it was seven decades ago, some things endure. Despite recent turbulence, more still unites this nation than divides it.
And the Queen – now as then – remains our touchstone.
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