The Queen has pulled out of an upcoming event in her Platinum Jubilee celebrations after appearing on the Buckingham Palace balcony with working royals to watch the opening military flypast.
The beaming 96-year-old monarch had appeared delighted at the display of roaring RAF jets flying in the formation of the number ’70’ which was followed by the Red Arrows filling the sky with blue, white and red.
The Trooping of the Colour Parade drew huge crowds to central London and marked the start of four days of festivities which was to be followed by a special service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday (local time).
But in breaking news, the palace announced the Queen would not be attending Friday’s Jubilee service after experiencing “discomfort” at the parade.
A statement from Buckingham Palace said the “journey” and “activity” that would be required of the Queen to participate had led to the decision not to attend.
“The Queen greatly enjoyed today’s birthday parade and flypast but did experience some discomfort,” said the statement.
“Taking into account the journey and activity required to participate in tomorrow’s National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, Her Majesty with great reluctance has concluded that she will not attend.
“The Queen is looking forward to participating in tonight’s beacon lighting event at Windsor Castle and would like to thank all those who made today such a memorable occasion.”
She will still take part in an evening ceremony when beacons will be lit across the country and the Commonwealth, with the Queen expected to lead with the lighting of the Principal Platinum Jubilee Beacon at her Windsor Castle home.
The Queen’s involvement in this year’s celebrations will be somewhat limited compared with previous major events.
In recent months the Queen has cut back public appearances due to what Buckingham Palace calls “episodic mobility issues”. In May, she missed the opening of parliament for the first time in almost six decades.
Senior royals, including Charles, and his eldest son William, 39, are carrying out some ceremonial duties on the Queen’s behalf.
Another royal who won’t be attending the Thanksgiving Service is Prince Andrew who has tested positive for COVID.
Meanwhile Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have maintained a low profile, seemingly not to attract headline attention, but were spotted looking relaxed as they watched from a building overlooking the parade ground.
Millions of people across Britain and the world were expected to watch the festivities, join street parties and light beacons in honour of the long-reigning monarch.
Holding a walking stick and wearing a dusky dove blue outfit, she was joined by her son and heir Prince Charles, 73, and other senior royals on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
While the family waved to the crowds and enjoyed a Royal Air force fly-past, Louis — Prince William’s 4-year-old son — covered his ears and howled as the planes roared overhead.
World leaders including Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, US President Joe Biden, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis and former British prime ministers were among those sending messages of goodwill.
The celebrations began with the Trooping the Colour, a military parade held annually to mark the Queen’s official birthday, where 1,500 soldiers marched to military music in ceremonial uniforms of scarlet tunics and bearskin hats.
Later the crowds moved to the Mall, the grand boulevard running up to Buckingham Palace, where in brilliant sunshine they cheered and waved Union flags while a display of modern and historic planes took place overhead.
Thursday marks not only the start of the Jubilee, but also the 69th anniversary of the coronation of Elizabeth, who became Queen on the death of her father George VI in February 1952.
There were artillery gun salutes in London, across the United Kingdom and from Royal Navy ships at sea.
“It was lovely, everything we hoped it would be. We’re a bit older now, so we were here for the 25th and then the 50th (jubilee). But this was the best one,” said nurse Ian Higgins, 62, who was watching the events in central London.
The government announced two public holidays to mark the celebration, which is the first major public gathering since the pandemic and a welcome distraction for many at a time of growing economic hardship.
Among the tributes pouring in from around the world was a video message from former U.S. president Barack Obama that was broadcast on the BBC.
“Your life has been a gift, not just for the United Kingdom, but for the world. And it is with gratitude for your leadership and the kindness that you’ve shown me and my family that I say, may the light of your crown continue to reign supreme,” he said.
A number of people caused a brief disturbance by running out in front of marching soldiers on the Mall boulevard before they were dragged away by police. Several were arrested.