WATCH: Here’s what’s been happening at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
Fans got the chance to witness four generations of royals from the balcony of Buckingham Palace as the Queen made her appearance to kick off her Platinum Jubilee.
Her Majesty and the former president of the United States, Barack Obama. Picture: CHRIS JACKSON/ WPA POOL Chris Jackson/POOL/AFP
Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee kicked off on Thursday morning with the Trooping the Colours parade, which was led by Prince Charles, Prince William, and the Queen’s daughter Princess Ann, while Queen Elizabeth watched from the Palace balcony alongside her cousin, the Duke of Kent.
During the coverage of the event, Barack Obama, who served as the 44th President of the United States, paid tribute to the Queen for her excellent “steadfast stewardship” throughout her seven decades of reign.
Buckingham Palace also announced that the monarch will not be attending the thanksgiving jubilee service, as she has decided to rest after experiencing some discomfort from participating in all of the celebrations which took place on the first day of the Platinum Jubilee.
Barack Obama pays touching tribute to Queen Elizabeth II
The 60-year-old politician met with the Queen a couple of times during his visits to Buckingham Palace, while he was in power as the president of the United States.
In a pre-recorded video which was aired during coverage of the Trooping the Colour parade that took place on Thursday morning, Obama reflected on the kindness and warmth which he and his wife received from the monarch when visiting Buckingham Palace.
“When you’re president of the United States you meet a lot of remarkable people and you try under all circumstances to maintain your composure. But that’s harder than you think when you’re visiting Her Majesty.
“Before I took office, Michelle and I hadn’t visited many places, so we weren’t sure what to expect on our first trip to Buckingham, but we shouldn’t have been worried.
“Her Majesty put us at ease with her grace and generosity, so much so that I walked away thinking that she actually reminded me a little bit of my grandmother. And in the years since I like to think that Her Majesty and I have formed a special relationship of our own,” said Obama.
The father-of-two ended off his tribute by hailing the Queen for her “steadfast stewardship”, stating that the world has been a better place since she came into power seven decades ago, and that her life has not only been a gift to the UK, but to the world at large.
“Your majesty, it would be a privilege and an understatement to say the world has changed a bit in the seven decades since you came to power, but your character never has. your steadfast stewardship of one of our most important democracies has made the world safer, and more prosperous through war and through peace, times of adversity and times of prosperity.
“Certainly I can say that getting to know her was one of the great privileges of my years in office and I learned so much from seeing the example she made for all of us who have the privileges to serve.
“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.”
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Britain’s royals to lead thanksgiving jubilee service for Queen
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan were on Friday expected to make their first public appearance in Britain in two years, at a church service for Queen Elizabeth II.
But any hopes that the family would be all back together were scuppered after his grandmother overdid it at Thursday’s launch of the four days of celebrations for her historic Platinum Jubilee.
Buckingham Palace said the 96-year-old monarch, who has been dogged by mobility problems for months, experienced “some discomfort” after two public appearances on the balcony after the Trooping the Colour military parade.
“Taking into account the journey and activity required to participate in (Friday’s) national service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, Her Majesty with great reluctance has concluded that she will not attend,” it added.
There will be no sign either of the queen’s second son Prince Andrew, who was not at Thursday’s parade. It was later announced he had tested positive for Covid.
Andrew has been dogged by allegations of involvement with known paedophiles in recent years.
Queen urged to pace herself
Royal officials have reportedly urged the queen to pace herself during the public events for her record-breaking 70 years on the throne, because of her difficulties standing and walking.
What the palace has described as “episodic mobility problems” forced her to pull out of engagements since October last year.
But her heir Prince Charles, 73, will be there to represent her as the most senior-ranking royal, in preparation for his future role as king.
On Thursday, he stood in for his mother at the Trooping the Colour, taking the salute on horseback.
More than 400 people have been invited to Friday’s service, including health and social care staff to give thanks for their work during the Covid pandemic.
The Bible readings, prayers and hymns on Friday are designed to reflect on and recognise what the palace said was the queen’s “lifetime of service”.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s attendance criticised
Former British Army captain Harry and American television actress Meghan, who is of mixed race, were once hailed as the modern face of the monarchy after they wed in 2018.
But less than two years later they quit royal life and moved to the United States, launching a series of damaging broadsides, including allegations of racism.
The couple’s attendance was as good as confirmed last week, when their biographer Omid Scobie told reporters in London they would be there.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are formally known, kept a low profile on Thursday and were excluded from the royal balcony appearance because they are no longer “working royals”.
Andrew is in disgrace and has effectively been stripped of his royal position. His no-show avoids further controversy amid lingering public anger at his settling of a US civil claim for sexual assault earlier this year.
His appearance at a memorial service for his father, the queen’s late husband Prince Philip, in late March, was criticised as inappropriate.
British newspapers, particularly the tabloid press, have been Harry and Meghan’s harshest critics, and warned them not to “hijack” the celebrations.
One commentator in the Daily Mail even said they had “no right” to participate in the jubilee, after their damaging criticisms of the institution.
“I believe I speak for many when I say: Harry and Meghan, you are not welcome. Please just stay away,” wrote Amanda Platell.
Four generations of royals attend first day of Platinum Jubilee festivities
The first event to kick of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations was the Trooping the Colours parade which saw Queen Elizabeth II making an appearance on the Palace balcony.
Royal fans got the chance to witness four generations of royals from the balcony as the Queen was joined by her children, her grandchildren, as well as her great grandchildren.
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*Additional reporting by AFP