The party ends but the British monarchy looks to the future

Turn off the beacons, dismantle the stage, roll up the flags. The party is over.

After four days of parades, street parties and a gala concert celebrating 70 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, the Platinum Jubilee celebrations ended on Sunday with a salute from the Queen from Buckingham Palace and the crowd outside singing “God Save the Queen”.

But as the tributes to Elizabeth’s life of service begin 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 issues”, made just three brief public appearances during the Jubilee. Her son and heir, Prince Charles, 73, replaced her at other events.

“Inevitably, we’re going to lose her one day. And so that would have been kind of a golden end to the reign, wouldn’t it?” historian and royal biographer Hugo Vickers told The Associated Press. “That’s why there’s a little hint of sadness, I think.”

This truth was the subtext of the weekend’s events as newspapers, TV screens and even palace walls were filled with images of Elizabeth going from a glamorous young queen in a crown and diamonds to a grand -global mother known for her ubiquitous handbag and her love of horses. and corgis.

Elizabeth is the UK’s longest-serving monarch, the only ruler most people have ever known.

This longevity engendered a deep affection for the queen. The question for the House of Windsor is whether the public will transfer those sentiments to Charles when the time comes.

From the opening military parade to the closing show outside the palace, the royal family has sought to establish a case for this continuity, highlighting the historic traditions of the monarchy and its role as a unifying institution that helps the country to celebrating successes and providing comfort during times of sadness.

Charles was front and center as he stood in for his mother.

Dressed in a ceremonial scarlet tunic and bearskin hat, he inspected the troops during the Queen’s Birthday Parade on Thursday. The following day, he was the last guest to enter St. Paul’s Cathedral and took his place outside the church for a service of thanksgiving in honor of the Queen. At Saturday’s star-studded concert outside Buckingham Palace, he paid the main tribute to the woman he addressed, saying “Your Majesty, Mum”.

Members of the royal family know they have work to do. Over the past year, the monarchy has been rocked by allegations of racism and bullying, a sex scandal involving Prince Andrew and demands it apologize for Britain’s historic role in the enslavement of millions of Africans.

But if the Windsors wanted proof of the enduring popularity of all things royal, they need look no further than the tens of thousands who packed the streets and parks around Buckingham Palace to cheer. , waving the Union Flag and saying “Thank you, ma’am” for the past four days.

Shows of public support are crucial to the survival of the monarchy, said royal historian Ed Owens.

“The Jubilee is not just defined by the presence of the Queen, but by many other players, and one of the key players … is the British public,” said Owens, author of “The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public 1932-1953.” “All of these events play to the British public… the Jubilee is as much a celebration of the British people in the British nation as it is of the Queen herself.”

Since coming to the throne after her father’s death on February 6, 1952, Elizabeth has been a beacon of stability as Britain negotiated the end of the empire, the dawn of the Age of information and the massive migration that transformed the country into a multicultural society. .

Throughout 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.

Actor and writer Stephen Fry captured this life of service, performed away from glittering state occasions and military parades that garner media attention, as he paid his own tribute at Saturday night’s Jubilee concert in front of Buckingham Palace.

“How many local sewage treatment plants has Her Majesty opened with a beaming smile? How many plaques have been unveiled? How many trees have been planted? How many ribbons have been cut, ships launched?” Fry asked, drawing a chuckle from the crowd. “How many prime ministers have tolerated? For that alone, no admiration is high enough.”

While they would have liked to see more of the queen, fans like Anne Middleton, 61, seemed to understand the limits of her health issues.

Middleton, the human resources manager, traveled to London from her home in Wales for the long holiday weekend. Wearing red, white and blue nail polish and a dress covered in the Union and Welsh flags, she and her friends watched Saturday’s concert from camping chairs in St. James’s Park.

“We wanted to introduce ourselves and let her know that we were 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, underlining three pillars of her reign: a personal connection with the public, close ties to the armed forces and support for the Commonwealth, a group of 54 nations with old colonial ties with Britain.

On Thursday afternoon, she joined other senior members of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a flypast of 70 military planes and greet supporters who filled the street below. Later, she took part in a lighthouse lighting ceremony at Windsor Palace, the culmination of an event that spanned the Commonwealth.

The weekend ended with another balcony appearance for the jubilant crowds, this time accompanied only by Prince Charles and his wife and Prince William and his wife and children.

The message could not have been clearer: this is the present and the future of the monarchy.

Robert Lacey, royal historian and adviser to Netflix series ‘The Crown’, believes the connection between the royal family and the British public will endure.

“There is a magic in royalty. If you don’t want to accept it, it’s up to you,” he said.

“But for many Brits, the magic moment (is) when the Queen or Prince Charles…show up in your neighborhood,” he said. “You are touched by a magic – which is no longer divine, but represents community – that says, ‘You matter and you are part of a bigger picture, a society, a community.'”

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