LONDON (AP) – In a crowning moment of her platinum jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on Sunday, delighting fans who had hoped to catch a glimpse of her on the final day of the monarch’s 70th birthday celebrations to seize the throne.
The 96-year-old monarch has reduced her schedule in recent months due to movement issues. Prior to Sunday, the Queen had only made two public appearances during the four-day bank holiday weekend celebrations. Officials said she experienced “discomfort” during those events on Thursday.
Thousands gathered outside Buckingham Palace at the culmination of a boisterous, colorful pageant that cheered as the monarch appeared on the balcony with her son and heir Prince Charles, his wife Camilla and their eldest grandson Prince William and his family.
The Queen, dressed in bright green, waved and smiled after the crowd blared “God Save The Queen.” Their performance, which lasted only a few minutes, was followed by a crowd-pleasing performance of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”.
It was an uplifting finale to a major street competition that celebrated the Queen’s life and highlighted Britain’s diversity. Thousands of people took to the streets of London, many speaking with excitement and pride about their Queen and their country.
Sunday’s pageant began with a spectacular military parade of 200 horses marching down the Mall to Buckingham Palace. They flanked the Golden State Coach, a gilded carriage that transported the Queen to her coronation 69 years ago. A virtual version of her, drawn from archival video of her 1953 coronation, was displayed on the carriage windows.
After pomp and pageantry came a mix of acts celebrating the diversity of modern Britain and the Commonwealth, from hip-hop and Bollywood dancers to drag queens and Mardi Gras-style floats. Around 6,000 performers marched along a three-kilometer route lined by a sea of Union flags, telling the story of the Queen’s life with dancing, vintage cars, colorful costumes, carnival music and giant puppets.
Some of Britain’s most popular cultural exports have been here, from the Daleks in Doctor Who to James Bond’s sleek Aston Martins. Celebrities such as singer Cliff Richard danced and sang on open-top, double-decker buses designed to represent the sights and sounds of each decade beginning in the 1950s.
“It’s a great honor to be a part of this, we have the best queen in the world don’t we? Best country in the world,” said Warren Jobson, a biker who took part in the parade.
Organizers expected the pageant to be seen by 1 billion people around the world.
Braving the cold and wet weather, the staunch royal supporters camped overnight on the Mall to ensure the best view of the pageant. Some came to see the celebrities perform – like Ed Sheeran singing his song “Perfect” while a giant video screen showed images of the Queen and her family – while others just wanted to be part of a historic moment.
“It’s part of history, it will never happen again. It’s special, so if you’re going to do it, you have to make it big or go home,” said Shaun Wallen, 50.
The Queen did not join her family in the royal box to watch the pageant. Neither has Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who are taking their first family trip to the UK since stepping down from royal duties and moving to the US in 2020. The couple arrived in the UK for the big bank holiday weekend but mostly stayed out of the spotlight during the Platinum Jubilee events.
Thousands of people rushed to the Mall to see the Queen after the parade ended, filling the huge area in minutes.
The monarch wowed the country when she appeared in a surprise comedy video that opened a concert outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday. in the video, the monarch had tea with a computer-animated Paddington Bear — and revealed that just like the furry character, she had a penchant for jam sandwiches and liked to keep them in her purse.
Diana Ross and rock band Queen headlined Saturday night’s star-studded tribute concert, which was also attended by Rod Stewart, Duran Duran, Alicia Keys and Andrea Bocelli.
Prince Charles, the Queen’s eldest son and heir apparent, emphasized his mother’s role as a symbol of unity and stability over the decades.
Addressing the Queen as “Your Majesty, Mommy,” Charles said, “You laugh and cry with us and most importantly, you’ve been there for us these 70 years.”
On Sunday, Charles and his wife Camilla mingled with the crowd at The Oval cricket ground in London for a “Big Jubilee Lunch”.
Millions across the country also set out long tables, balloons, and picnic foods for similar patriotic street festivals and barbecues.
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