If you thought the queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 and her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 were big — with their star-studded concerts featuring Paul McCartney and Elton John — this one may be bigger.
And yet, a note of caution: The queen is 95 now — and newly widowed.
By all accounts (leaks, guesswork, biographers), she remains in remarkably robust health, despite the stress created by her children (Prince Andrew, shunned for his association with alleged American sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein) and runaway grandson, Prince Harry, who — along with and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex — keeps doling out monetized tidbits of House of Windsor dysfunction to Oprah Winfrey.
But royal watchers do recall that at the queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which featured the largest pageant on the Thames River in 350 years — in the rain, naturally — the mood was dampened when Prince Philip, the queen’s husband, was hospitalized for a bladder infection.
Philip rebounded, of course. But he died in April, just two months shy of 100.
Imagine if the queen catches a bad cold before/during/after the big bash next year?
“There has been some slowing down for several years, but she is still very engaged,” BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell reported on Wednesday.
But such elaborate events require months of planning, so the palace is working on the queen’s next jubilee. The show must go on, and the monarchy — rocked by ongoing scandals and new revelations of previous bad behavior — needs to get up onstage and perform.
Or, as Prince Harry recently put it, to display themselves like animals in a zoo.
To mark the occasion, and deploy its greatest instrument of soft power, the British government has agreed to a four-day holiday weekend, beginning Thursday, June 2, 2022, with the “Trooping the Colour,” which marks the queen’s official (not actual) birthday, when 1,400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians will set off from Buckingham Palace in central London and proceed down the Mall to Horse Guards Parade, joined by members of the royal family on horseback and in gilded carriages.
The palace says that the parade will close with the traditional flyover by the royal air force, watched by the royal family from the Buckingham Palace balcony.
Millions of Union Jack-waving Britons lined the streets for the 2012 jubilee, and millions are expected to do so again next year. Sales of spirits, beer and sparkling wine — alongside “Coronation Chicken Salad Sandwiches” — will probably spike, assuming some variant of the coronavirus doesn’t shut the whole thing down.
The queen granting her subjects a four-day “bank holiday weekend” is reason enough for many to party quite heartily, but a lot more is planned: Over the 2022 jubilee weekend, the queen is scheduled to attend a “Service of Thanksgiving” at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the next day, the Derby horse races at Epsom Downs. There will also be a “Platinum Party at the Palace,” a live concert from Buckingham Palace staged by the BBC “that will bring together some of the world’s biggest entertainment stars to celebrate the most significant and joyous moments from The Queen’s seven decade reign,” the palace announced.
Members of the public will be invited to apply to attend.
Additionally, there will be a “Big Jubilee Lunch” — street parties and picnics, tea and cake or garden barbecues — and, finally, the palace said, “the Platinum Jubilee Pageant featuring over 5,000 people from across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth will take place against the backdrop of Buckingham Palace and the surrounding streets. It will combine street arts, theatre, music, circus, carnival and costume and celebrate the service of Her Majesty’s reign, as well as honouring the collective service of people and communities across the country.”
But this has been an unsettled time for the monarchy, in an age of change, with questions about racist reactions by the royal family to the marriage of Harry and Meghan. On Wednesday, as the details of next year’s jubilee were announced, the Guardian newspaper reported that “the Queen’s courtiers banned ‘coloured immigrants or foreigners’ from serving in clerical roles in the royal household until at least the late 1960s, according to newly discovered documents that will reignite the debate over the British royal family and race.”