Acclaimed by the crowd this Thursday on the balcony of Buckingham, Queen Elizabeth II, in delicate health, will miss the religious service held on Friday for her 70-year reign, unprecedented longevity for the British monarchy, due to “certain inconveniences”.
“The Queen very much enjoyed her birthday parade today (Thursday) and the flyover, but felt some discomfort,” Buckingham Palace said.
“Given the route and activity required for the thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Her Majesty has reluctantly concluded that she will not attend,” it added.
This announcement reignites concerns about the deteriorating health of the ultra-popular 96-year-old sovereign, who has difficulty walking and whose official appearances have become increasingly rare since a night in a hospital in October.
On Thursday, to the delight of the tens of thousands of spectators gathered for the kick-off of four days of festivities, she nonetheless appeared twice on the palace balcony, smiling and dressed in a dove-blue outfit, leaning motionless on a cane. . .
Ascended to the throne at the age of 25 on February 6, 19,52 on the death of her father George VI, she was first accompanied by the Duke of Kent, a cousin, for the passage of the annual military parade of the “Salut aux Couleurs” . “, bringing together more than 1,200 soldiers and hundreds of musicians.
She returned to the balcony shortly after, for a flyover, this time accompanied by 17 members of the royal family who have official duties and their children.
The facial expressions of his great-grandson Louis, 4, the youngest of Prince William’s children, melted the audience.
Deprived of a balcony, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan discreetly watched the parade from another building, their first public return to the UK since their sensational departure from California in 2020.
Also missing is Prince Andrew, who paid millions of dollars to put an end to a sexual assault allegation. He will also be absent from St Paul’s Cathedral, as he has tested positive for Covid-19.
For this holiday, a dense crowd, colored with flags and portraits of the queen, had gathered along the Mall, the avenue that leads to the palace.
Some said they felt as if they were experiencing the last great appearance of the ninety-year-old queen, loved for her sense of duty, her impeccable neutrality, and her ironic humor.
“It only happens once in a lifetime,” explains Mark Cornell, who came especially from the north of England to AFP, but who nevertheless assures that he is not an unconditional admirer of the monarchy: “they must reinvent themselves before the new generations.
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Never has a British sovereign reigned as long as Elizabeth. It is unlikely that another will achieve such longevity: Charles, the crown prince is 73 years old, who each time takes over, and his son William will soon turn 40.
For this jubilee, pennants, flags, and giant portraits have been hung on streets across the UK, shop windows are filled with souvenirs, and sales of typically “British” alcohol and cake have skyrocketed.
Buckingham Palace has confirmed that the Queen will remotely light a 21-metre-high tree-shaped sculpture in front of Buckingham Palace at night from Windsor Castle, where she resides.
Then a giant concert is planned for Saturday, but also tens of thousands of popular gatherings, including giant picnics on Sunday.
“I hope that the next few days will be an opportunity to reflect on everything that has been achieved in the last 70 years, looking to the future with confidence and enthusiasm,” the sovereign, head of the country, said in a written message. State of 15 kingdoms, from the United Kingdom to Canada and New Zealand.
Congratulations poured in from around the world, with French President Emmanuel Macron praising his “dedication” to Franco-British “unbreakable friendship”. Even the Irish Republican Party Sinn Fein has highlighted its role in the Northern Ireland peace process, a move long unimagined since the IRA’s former political showcase.
In this end-of-reign environment, the monarchy is facing growing criticism, especially in the former colonies, about the British Empire’s slave-owning past.
In the United Kingdom, the queen is still very much loved by her subjects with 75% favorable opinions according to the YouGov institute, but her heir Charles is much less appreciated (50%). Only 39% of Britons believe that the institution will still exist in 100 years.
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