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Thousands of street parties are taking place across the U.K. on Sunday for the finale of Britain’s four-day celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.
The celebration of her 70-year reign has already been marked by the Trooping the Color military parade, a flypast of 70 aircraft, a thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Cathedral and a concert and spectacular light show outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday night.
The final act is the Jubilee Pageant, a four-act procession currently taking place on the streets of London that includes a military parade, theater, cultural representation from across the Commonwealth and a musical finale topped by Ed Sheeran.
Even the weather is suitably British, with rain and temperatures topping the mid-60s across the country. But the grey weather could not dampen the spirits as the nation celebrates the life of its 96-year-old monarch.
The queen waves to the crowd as celebrations come to a close
Queen Elizabeth II waved to the crowd before returning back inside Buckingham Palace. ABBA's "Dancing Queen" was performed as the Jubilee drew to a close.
The queen appears on the balcony of Buckingham Palace
Queen Elizabeth II appeared on a balcony of Buckingham Palace at the close of the parade. The appearance was one of a handful she has made during the Jubilee celebration.
The queen smiled and looked out on the crowd, wearing vibrant green, with her family around her, before a joyous crowd. The queen stood tall, taking in the size of the crowd, as "God Save The Queen" played.
Reporters observing the event noted that the balcony is the same on which the queen appeared following her coronation 70 years prior.
The queen was experiencing “discomfort” on Thursday after several live appearances and decided “with great reluctance” not to attend a church service after the “journey and activity” of the first day of celebrations to mark her seven decades on the throne.
Ed Sheeran sings to the queen ahead of expected balcony appearance
Singer Ed Sheeran sang his hit "Perfect" to Queen Elizabeth as the parade came toward its conclusion. The song was dedicated to not only the queen, but also to her late husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April 2021.
The Royal Standard flag flies above Buckingham Palace
The Union flag is taken down and the Royal Standard flag is raised, signifying the queen is at Buckingham Palace. The Royal Standard flag is flown whenever the queen is present.
It can't all go to plan
One of the open-topped vehicles had to be pushed by four men in yellow vests. But the parade carried on regardless.
The queen appears (sort of)
We always knew the queen wasn't going to ride in her Gold State Coach during the parade, but crowds were surprised to see her waving from the window anyway. It wasn't the real queen, of course, but a looped video from her coronation in June 1953, when she was just 25.
Incoming: busloads of national treasures
Among today's procession will be a cavalcade of seven open-top buses, each decorated to represent one decade of the queen's reign.
Riding inside will be British "national treasures," including singer Shirley Bassey, former England soccer player Gary Lineker and actor Idris Elba. Vulpine children's TV puppet Basil Brush will also make and appearance.
Jubilee lunches held across Britain
While the pageant rolls through the streets of London, thousands of people across the U.K. are celebrating by holding street parties of their own.
There were some interesting sights, including an effigy of the queen at a table during a street party in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, in central England.Hundreds also gathered for a “Big Jubilee Lunch” on The Long Walk in Windsor, a small town to the west of London and home to the queen's residence Windsor Castle.
Before the pageant, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, joined another “Big Jubilee Lunch” at the Oval cricket ground in London.
And we're off!
The Platinum Jubilee Pageant has started, marking the beginning of the finale to the weekend's celebrations. Spearheading the parade is the Gold State Coach. Although the queen is not riding inside, a hologram of the monarch in her younger years was seen waving in the window.
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are watching from the royal box, along with several other family members. Speculation still abounds whether the queen herself will appear.
The pageant will feature four acts: “For Queen and Country,” a military parade to recognize the country’s armed forces; “The Time of Our Lives,” celebrating the cultural and technological innovations during the queen’s 70-year reign; “Let’s celebrate,” a festival of music and dance, including from around the Commonwealth; and “Happy and Glorious,” a performance by “national treasures from the world of the performing arts, entertainment, fashion, business and media,” including Ed Sheeran, the palace says.
Pageant gearing up
Sections of the Jubilee Pageant have begun to rev up — literally in some cases — head of its start at 2:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. ET).
Military bands are already playing as they march past Buckingham Palace, and fleets of bicycles, motorbikes and Morris Minors (an iconic car dating to the 1940s that has come to signify British quaintness) are all starting to get into position.
Also being wheeled into place are several model Daleks, the evil mutant race from the TV show "Doctor Who," one of the U.K.'s proudest cultural exports, which will also form part of the procession.
Charles and Camilla mingle at 'Big Jubilee Lunch'
Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall mingled with crowds at The Oval cricket ground in London for a “Big Jubilee Lunch.”
Thousands to take part in Jubilee Pageant
Around 10,000 people will take part in the Jubilee Pageant, a 1.8-mile procession in the streets around Buckingham Palace starting at 2:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. ET). The parade will involve the military, theater and musical artists, as well as "key workers" from the NHS.
The pageant will be led by the Gold State Coach, an ornate royal carriage weighing 4 tons and dating back to the 1760s, in which the queen rode during her 1953 coronation and silver and golden jubilees. The queen will not ride in it today, however.
Meanwhile, some 16,000 street parties have been registered across the U.K. And an estimated 10 million people are expected to join in — around 1/6th of the U.K.'s population — said Peter Stewart, executive director at the charity the Eden Project, which is coordinating some of the events.
Crowds gather outside Buckingham Palace
More than two hours before the Jubilee Pageant starts, crowds have already started gathering on the Mall, the wide avenue leading to Buckingham Palace, as well as Trafalgar Square at the other end.
Not everyone will be celebrating
While jubilee fever might seem inescapable in the U.K., polling by YouGov suggests most Britons will actually be ignoring the pomp and ceremony. A survey last month found 56 percent of adults had no plans to celebrate the regal landmark at all. Only 14 percent said they definitely would.
And while the queen remains personally very popular, only one third of 18-to-24-year-olds in Britain think the monarchy should continue as an institution, another YouGov poll conducted last month found.
Some of those who are attending street parties said that it had more to do with community spirit after two years of the pandemic — with little focus on the royals themselves. Others were merely glad for the four-day weekend and a chance to indulge in one of the nation's favorite pastimes: drinking.
Jack Monroe, a British food poverty campaigner, tweeted they were attending a party Sunday to see their family “despite mixed feelings about the monarchy.”
And Leanne Wood, former leader of Welsh independence party Plaid Cymru, wrote about attending a jubilee party Saturday that it was “fantastic to spend time with our neighbors” — but “there was little mention of the royals, aside from a few jokes.”
Let them eat cake
After visiting Cardiff on Saturday, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, and her children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, baked cup cakes to send to street parties happening in the Welsh capital.
A day of Britishness — including the weather
So far, Britain has celebrated the jubilee while enjoying relatively warm, sunny weather. That's taken a turn.
Rain is forecast across much of the country Sunday, with the Met Office, the U.K.'s national weather service, issuing a thunderstorm warning for England and Wales until 6 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET).
It will be cooler too, with temperatures staying in the 50s to mid-60s.
Will we see the queen today?
It's not clear how much — if any — of Sunday's celebrations the queen, 96, will attend in person.
She made an appearance during Thursday's Trooping the Colour military parade, before watching a Royal Air Force flypast from the Buckingham Palace balcony with a gaggle of other family members.
She also made an unexpected showing later that day to light a beacon outside the gates of nearby Windsor Castle, one of thousands lit that evening in her honor across the U.K.
At around the same time, the palace also announced that she would have to miss Friday's thanksgiving service at St. Paul's Cathedral after experiencing "some discomfort" following the day's events. As expected, she also missed the Derby horse race at Epsom Downs, southwest of London, on Saturday. And she was also absent for the Platinum Party at the Palace that night.
The queen, who often uses a walking stick, has been forced to cancel a host of events at short notice in recent months after suffering what the palace calls “episodic mobility problems.” She also caught Covid-19 in February.
Queen meets Paddington Bear for jubilee celebrations
Queen Elizabeth II was seen meeting with Paddington Bear in a sketch which opened a concert that was part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations at Buckingham Palace on Saturday.
Although she did not attend the event in person, the monarch's meeting with the animated character was broadcast onto the front of the building.
Just as she did at the 2012 London Olympics, when she appeared in a pre-recorded video with Daniel Craig’s James Bond, the queen played along with the joke, acting alongside the CGI bear, voiced by Ben Whishaw.
As the pair took cream tea, both confessed to carrying around a marmalade sandwich.
Prince Charles leads tributes to queen at jubilee concert
Prince Charles led the tributes to his mother at a Platinum Jubilee concert outside Buckingham Palace Saturday.
On the third day of events to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th year on the throne, Charles told the crowd of thousands that she had “been with us in our difficult times. And you bring us together to celebrate moments of pride, joy and happiness.”
The queen, 96, did not attend the concert and has not made any public appearances since Thursday when she was seen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with other members of the royal family. She did not attend a thanksgiving service at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral on Friday because of mobility issues.
Charles told the crowd he “wanted to pay my own tribute to your lifetime of selfless service.