The Queen has met her great-granddaughter Lilibet for the first time after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had lunch with the monarch and senior royals behind closed doors as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex introduced their little girl to the Queen – nicknamed Lilibet as a child – yesterday at Windsor after attending a private Royal Family lunch at Buckingham Palace following Trooping the Colour.
Harry and Meghan are expected to remain mostly low-profile over the four-day Jubilee weekend, with no sign of the Netflix cameras that followed them around at the Invictus Games in the Netherlands in April. But they will attend today’s Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral – their first joint royal engagement in two years.
Prince Charles will officially represent the Queen at the service in London today after she was forced to pull out last night, and there will also be no appearance from Prince Andrew after he tested positive for coronavirus.
The Sussexes, who are staying at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor while visiting from California, were not allowed on the Buckingham Palace balcony yesterday and instead watched proceedings from Horse Guards Parade.
But today’s service will be Harry and Meghan’s first appearance with The Firm since the frosty Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020 shortly before they officially stepped down as senior royals.
The 96-year-old Queen will miss today’s service at St Paul’s following a last-minute decision announced by the Palace at 7.30pm last night after she experienced ‘discomfort’ during the Trooping The Colour events.
She is understood to have suffered episodic mobility issues yesterday – and, in a statement, the Palace revealed the Queen ‘greatly enjoyed’ her birthday parade and flypast but ‘did experience some discomfort’.
It said: ‘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.’
It is understood the decision ahead of the service, which begins at 11.30am today, was considered regrettable but sensible due to the length of the journey and time involved and the physical demands the service would require.
Senior members of the monarchy at St Paul’s this morning will also include the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Sussexes, who will be joined by the extended royal family.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are flying over from the US with Lilibet and her brother Archie (pictured last December)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are seen being driven in a car in London yesterday during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations
Meghan Markle appears to shush the royal children as she is seen inside the Major General’s Office overlooking Horse Guards Parade in London during Trooping the Colour celebrations yesterday, with Savannah and Isla Phillips and Lena and Mia Tindall
Prince Harry speaks to the Duke of Kent with Meghan Markle as they attend Trooping the Colour in London yesterday
Prince Charles and the Queen on the balcony at Buckingham Palace in London during Trooping the Colour yesterday
The Queen arrives back at Windsor Castle in Berkshire from Buckingham Palace in London yesterday afternoon at 3.15pm
The order of service for today’s Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral in London which begins at 11.30am today
News of the Queen’s meeting with Lilibet yesterday – which comes ahead of her first birthday tomorrow – was revealed on BBC Breakfast this morning by royal commentator Omid Scobie, who is friendly with the Sussexes.
He said: ‘I think people are expecting some sort of big birthday extravagant event, that we’re going to see photographs from. From what I’m told, we shouldn’t expect anything.
Where and when can I watch the Platinum Jubilee celebrations?
Here is a rundown of what will happen today and for the next two days as the nation pays tribute to the Queen’s 70 years as sovereign during the Platinum Jubilee weekend, and where to watch the events on television.
- From 9.15am on BBC One, Sophie Raworth meets many of the key people taking part in a special service of thanksgiving, while from the BBC’s Platinum Jubilee Studio at St James’ Park, Kirsty Young is joined by special guests.
- 11am – The royal family begin to arrive for a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.
- 11.30am – The service begins, broadcast on BBC One with commentary from David Dimbleby inside St Paul’s.
- 12.25pm – Members of the royal family attend a Guildhall reception hosted by the Lord Mayor.
- The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s daughter Lilibet celebrates her first birthday.
- Senior royals tour the UK, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting Cardiff Castle to meet stars ahead of a jubilee concert, the Princess Royal taking part in an animal-handling session at Edinburgh Zoo and the Earl and Countess of Wessex travelling to Northern Ireland.
- 4.30pm – The Epsom Derby takes place. Avid racegoer the Queen is no longer planning to attend, although members of the royal family are expected to be there. Ed Chamberlin presents racing coverage on ITV from 12.40pm. A guard of honour, made of up to 40 of the Queen’s past and present jockeys, is due to line the course.
- 7.40pm – Royals arrive at the BBC’s Platinum Party at the Palace concert. Coverage begins on BBC One from 7.30pm with Kirsty Young in St James’s Park, and Roman Kemp backstage.
- 8pm-10.30pm – The open-air show in front of the palace, features stars including Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys, Duran Duran and Diana Ross.
- Street parties and Big Jubilee Lunches are staged across the country.
- Coverage begins on BBC One from 1pm with commentary from Clare Balding, while Kirsty Young, AJ Odudu, Anita Rani, Anton Du Beke, Sophie Morgan and Owain Wyn Evans report on street parties across the UK.
- The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall join a flagship feast at The Oval cricket ground in south London, while Edward and Sophie meet people creating the ‘Long Table’ down on The Long Walk leading up to Windsor Castle.
- 2.30pm-5pm – The Jubilee Pageant takes place in central London, with a 3km carnival procession featuring a cast of thousands including puppets, celebrities and tributes to the seven decades of the Queen’s reign.
- It will move from Horse Guards, along Whitehall to Admiralty Arch, and down The Mall to the Palace.
- The finale will feature Ed Sheeran performing and singing the national anthem with close to 200 national treasures in front of the Queen’s official residence.
- It is hoped the Queen will make a balcony appearance as the festivities come to a close.
- At 8pm on BBC Two, Kirsty Young looks back at the weekend of celebrations.
‘Those moments with Lilibet are very much private between them and the Queen and of course we know how much she’s been looking forward to it.
‘They’ve been held back by a pandemic. Of course the times that Harry has been here it’s just been by himself for quite sombre occasions. And so this really was the first time.
‘Of course we know the Queen went back to Windsor Castle yesterday, the couple went back to Windsor as well where they’re staying at Frogmore Cottage. So that would have been the first moment or the first chance for her to meet her namesake.’
Yesterday, Harry and Meghan made a concerted effort not to be seen by prying eyes as they watched Trooping the Colour yesterday, arriving incognito at Horse Guards Parade and studiously keeping away from most – although not all – of the waiting photographers.
The couple arrived in the UK on Wednesday afternoon, flying in by private jet from Los Angeles to Farnborough Airport in Hampshire, where they were picked up by royal bodyguards and taken to Frogmore Cottage.
Yesterday a Range Rover with a modest escort swept them in to Central London and onto Whitehall, where they took up position in the Major General’s Office overlooking the parade ground ready for the other royals to arrive.
Among the first to greet them were Princess Beatrice and her husband, Edo, as well as the Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips.
Meghan was seen kissing his elder daughter, Savannah, 11, as his younger daughter, Isla, 10, held Zara and Mike Tindall’s younger daughter Lena, almost four.
As Princess Beatrice’s husband, Edo Mapelli-Mozzi, looked on, Meghan, 40, appeared to be sharing a secret with the youngsters, who were joined by the Tindalls’ eldest daughter Mia, eight.
Meghan, wearing a large wide-brimmed navy and white hat, put her finger mysteriously to her lips as the girls mimicked her, laughing.
Her husband, Harry, 37, who looked tanned in a lounge suit rather than military uniform, was also seen later entering into the spirit of things, apparently urging Lena to ‘shush’.
The couple were later seen chatting to the Queen’s cousin, the Duke of Kent, 86, before he left the family gathering to join the monarch at Buckingham Palace, where they took the returning military salute together.
Last month Buckingham Palace revealed that the Queen had personally decided to only invite working members of the Royal Family and some of their children onto the Buckingham Palace balcony with her.
This neatly sidestepped the tricky issue about what to do with Harry, Meghan and Andrew who have all quit royal duties.
But while Andrew wasn’t invited to join the family following his shaming over his links to billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, she did extend an olive branch to the Sussexes to join other family members at Horse Guards to watch the parade from the windows of the Duke of Wellington’s old office.
Those on the Buckingham Palace balcony also included the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and her three children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – after they had arrived by carriage along with the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their two children, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Princess Anne’s husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.
Princess Alexandra, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were also present as well as the children of Princess Margaret, Lord Snowden and Lady Sarah Chatto, and their families.
As for Harry and Meghan, Mr Scobie told BBC Breakfast today that he ‘spoke to people close to the couple’ who said that the couple ‘wanted to be as low profile as possible during this trip’.
He continued: ‘It is almost hard to believe, but I think that yesterday at Trooping the Colour was a great example. We didn’t really catch sight of them on TV cameras. There were a few grainy photos of them in existence online but that is about as far as it goes.
Royal fans gather early this morning at St Paul’s Cathedral in London ahead of the Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen
Royal enthusiasts gather this morning at St Paul’s Cathedral ahead of the Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen
Royal fans gather early this morning at St Paul’s Cathedral in London ahead of the Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen
Royal enthusiasts gather this morning at St Paul’s Cathedral ahead of the Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen
Police officers stand guard outside St Paul’s Cathedral ahead of the Service of Thanksgiving in London this morning
‘And for them being here is all about honouring and really celebrating the life and legacy of the Queen. Someone that they have continued a very warm and close relationship with. Of course we know that is not the same with the other family members and today will be very interesting to see them alongside some of them.
‘I was with the couple on their last day in the UK, on Meghan’s last engagement, and of course we remember they also went on to that Westminster Abbey Commonwealth service. Very awkward moments between the Sussexes and the Cambridges. It was almost sort of at the peak of the tensions between them and the institutions of the monarchy.
‘A lot of that has softened since then. It doesn’t meant that the relationships have necessarily gotten back on track to how they once were. I think all eyes will be on them today just to see how they all are with the other members of the family.
‘But of course everyone is here to celebrate the faith, the reign and the lifetime of service of the Queen. And I think for them, despite the fact that they broke away from the firm, they always said that they had carried out their work. Holding, upholding the same principles and values as Her Majesty.’
However, royal expert Angela Levin told Talk TV: ‘I felt when I saw them ‘what are you doing here, you are irrelevant, why are you here? I was very angry when they wound the window down of their car.
‘They are people who fought for more security, the utmost security yet they were happy to wind the window down and wave. Why are they doing that?’
She added: ‘My instinct was that ‘what are you doing here’. I don’t think you can trash someone and then turn up with smiles.’
Queen Elizabeth II leads the lighting of the principal Jubilee beacon at Windsor Castle yesterday evening
The Queen lit the first of her Platinum Jubilee beacons at Windsor last night, sending a spark of light around the globe
The Duke of Cambridge with Sir Nicholas Bacon during the lighting of the Principal Beacon at Buckingham Palace last night
The Platinum Jubilee beacon at Edinburgh Castle yesterday evening on day one of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations
Earlier this week it was reported that Harry and Meghan had promised to keep a low profile to avoid overshadowing the Jubilee.
Queen pulls out of St Paul’s service in latest absence due to mobility
The Platinum Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving is the latest in a run of events the Queen has had to pull out of for mobility reasons.
Royal doctors will have been keeping a close eye on the elderly monarch as she embarked on the weekend of festivities.
The Prince of Wales will officially represent his mother at the service at St Paul’s Cathedral today after she experienced ‘discomfort’ during yesterday’s celebrations. It is understood the decision was considered regrettable but sensible due to the length of the journey and time involved and the physical demands the event would require.
In recent months, the 96-year-old monarch has been absent from a series of major engagements including the State Opening of Parliament.
While she made a number of in-person visits in the weeks leading up to her Jubilee celebrations, including a surprise visit to open the Elizabeth line and to tour the Chelsea Flower Show using a golf buggy, the Queen has faced ongoing ‘episodic mobility problems’, stretching back to last autumn, and now uses a walking stick.
She flew to Balmoral last week, taking the opportunity to rest during a short break ahead of the high-profile national events.
In October 2021, she used a walking stick at a Westminster Abbey service – the first time she had done so at a major engagement. A week later, after a busy autumn programme, she was ordered to rest by her doctors and advised to cancel a trip to Northern Ireland.
The Queen was secretly admitted to hospital for ‘preliminary investigations’ and had her first overnight stay in hospital for eight years on October 20, 2021. The next day she was back at her desk at Windsor, carrying out light duties.
But concern for her health mounted when she pulled out of more high-profile engagements, including the Cop26 climate change summit and the Festival of Remembrance, with Buckingham Palace saying she had been advised to continue to rest and to not carry out any official visits.
She was intent on attending the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, but missed this due to a sprained back. For more than three months she carried out only light duties, including virtual and face-to-face audiences in the confines of Windsor Castle.
In February 2022, she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, meeting charity workers at Sandringham House and cutting a Jubilee cake in what was her largest in-person public engagement since October.
Many of her duties are now carried out via video calls, and the country’s longest-reigning sovereign remarked during a in-person audience in February: ‘Well, as you can see, I can’t move.’
There were fears for her health when she finally caught Covid, testing positive on February 20, 2022. The triple-vaccinated Queen suffered from mild cold-like symptoms, but said the virus left her ‘very tired and exhausted’. She carried on with light duties while self-isolating at Windsor, but cancelled some virtual audiences.
She pulled out of the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in March, a significant date in the royal calendar given the importance to her of the family of nations, and did not attend the Maundy Thursday service.
But she rallied to honour the Duke of Edinburgh at a memorial service at the end of March, walking slowly and carefully with the aid of a stick, and holding on to the Duke of York’s elbow for support.
In May 2022, she missed the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in nearly 60 years, with Buckingham Palace attributing her absence to ‘episodic mobility problems’.
The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge opened parliament on her behalf as Counsellors of State, with Charles reading the Queen’s Speech for a historic first time.
Much has changed in the past seven months, with Buckingham Palace mostly only confirming the Queen’s attendance at engagements on the day, with the decision dependent on how she is feeling in the morning.
The Queen did go to the Windsor Horse Show in May and she was also the guest of honour at the equestrian extravaganza A Gallop Through History near Windsor, the first major event of the Jubilee festivities.
She also made a surprise appearance to officially open the Elizabeth line at Paddington Station, looking bright and cheery, but with her visit limited to just 10 minutes. She also turned up at the Chelsea Flower Show, and was driven around the floral extravaganza in her new hi-tech golf buggy for her comfort.
The Sussexes are ensuring that their appearances are ‘strictly limited’, arriving with their two children Archie, three, and Lilibet, who will turn one on Saturday, but ‘without any of their senior staff’, according to ITV.
They are, reportedly, leaving the ‘most trusted members of their team’ in the United States and plan to ‘keep it simple’.
Relationships have been so poor between the couple and Buckingham Palace that royal aides have been kept in the dark about the majority of their itinerary.
There has also been genuine irritation that Harry spoke about meeting with his grandmother back in April to an American broadcaster just days later, saying: ‘I’m just making sure that she’s protected and got the right people around her’, which was seen as critical of her loving family and devoted staff. ‘
Well-placed sources have stressed they should definitely not be expected ‘at every event’ over the extended Bank Holiday weekend. However they are expected at today’s service at St Paul’s.
It will be the couple’s longest stay in Britain since they acrimoniously quit as working royals and moved first to Canada and then the US more than two years ago.
One royal insider said they believed the couple had taken their ‘low-key’ cue from the Queen, who has made clear that she doesn’t even want the Jubilee celebrations to be about herself but a means to bring the nation together after a difficult few years.
‘Her Majesty has made clear that this shouldn’t even be about herself, let alone family dramas. Even the Sussexes respect that,’ they said.
Another source said palace aides had been acutely aware of ‘the optics’ – how things would look from the outside – and ensured that the couple were only attending events where there would be minimal interactions with other senior royals in public.
Asked if the duke and duchess would appear at any other events over the weekend, particularly with their children, they said: ‘I really wouldn’t expect them at everything.’
They added: ‘It’s a typically elegant solution as you would expect. The Queen wants her family there and they are still part of it. But in a carefully controlled fashion.’
Roya Nikkah, royal editor at The Sunday Times, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We only saw a tiny glimpse of Harry and Meghan yesterday watching it privately from the Major General’s office.
‘Today, very different picture. They will be right at the heart of the royal family, sitting there with the senior royals. This is the moment in a day where the Queen wanted all her family with her.
It will be a similar procession to what we saw in the Commonwealth Day service. I think they will come in with other members of the royal family, other senior royals. But we always knew that the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, and the Cambridges were going to be right at the front of the procession.’
Speaking about the Queen deciding against attending today’s service, Ms Nikkah added: ‘We are in transition. The Queen is doing as much as she possibly can. I thought it was wonderful to see her twice yesterday, three times even, but this is the new reality.
‘She was so determined yesterday, to acknowledging she wasn’t going to be able to make it on Horse Guards Parade, to come out twice onto the balcony. She saw that people really wanted to see her.
‘I think last night, to not delegate a royal understudy at Windsor Castle and to go on and do that herself, even though you could see she was slightly struggling. I thought what a trooper but the Queen enjoyed yesterday, she was very keen on Buckingham Palace letting everyone know how much she enjoyed it and she will be watching at home today.’
Meanwhile key workers, charity volunteers and members of the armed forces have been invited to the Queen’s service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s today in recognition of their contribution to public life.
More than 400 people, who have been making a difference either nationally or locally, are among the guests and many have been working tirelessly during the pandemic.
They will join members of the royal family at St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate the monarch’s 70-year reign, although the Queen herself will not attend after experiencing ‘some discomfort’ during Thursday’s events following previous mobility issues.
The Bishop of London said today that she is ‘excited’ ahead of the thanksgiving service. Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally, who will be leading the blessing at St Paul’s, told BBC Breakfast: ‘I’m excited, I think.’
She added that she was nervous about the ceremonial regalia she needs to wear. ‘It’s a coat called the George V coat. It’s quite an old coat, which is a cape and it sits on me, but of course it was designed for men because I’m the first woman who happens to be the Bishop of London,’ she said. ‘So, it doesn’t sit quite as well on me, so I’m slightly nervous.’
She said that Her Majesty’s Christian faith has ‘always shaped her’ and she feels privileged to play a part in the service and ‘give thanks’ to The Queen for her service to the country.
And the Dean of St Paul’s said today’s thanksgiving service represents the nation ‘picking up the baton’ from The Queen as a thank you for her years of service.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Kent watch Trooping the Colour from the balcony at Buckingham Palace yesterday
Prince William and Kate with children Princess Charlotte, Prince George and Prince Louis at Buckingham Palace yesterday
The Queen smiles as Prince Louis puts his hands over his ears on during the flypast over Buckingham Palace yesterday
Members of the Household Division during the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London yesterday
The Very Revd Dr David Ison told BBC Breakfast: ‘I think, for me, what this service is about, is saying not only thank you, but also we are picking up the baton of what The Queen has done. We ourselves are committing to how we can make the world a better place.’
California pub ensures British expats are not left out over Jubilee weekend
Bunting, afternoon tea and a Queen Elizabeth impersonator are among the things ensuring that British expats more than 5,000 miles from home do not miss out on the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Ye Olde Kings Head, a traditional British pub in Santa Monica, California, is pulling out all the stops to ensure that those living stateside can get a ‘piece of the action’ over the holiday weekend.
Established in 1974, the venue also has a restaurant, bakery and gift shop, and has been frequented by scores of Hollywood celebrities over the years.
The inside of Ye Olde Kings Head, a traditional British pub in Santa Monica, California, which is celebrating the Jubilee
Events scheduled for the four-day weekend include a Beatles tribute act, afternoon tea, British-themed karaoke, street parties, live football and traditional Sunday roasts.
As well as the normal supply of British products sold by the shop; which includes Yorkshire Tea, Cadbury’s chocolate and Marmite, stacks of Jubilee memorabilia such as tea towels, mugs, coasters, bunting and official teddy bears have been added.
Operations manager Lisa Powers said the celebrations were intended to create a ‘home from home’ for expats living abroad and they had tried to cover ‘the whole British aspect from all angles’.
‘We’re creating a community home from home to mirror the festivities,’ she told the PA news agency.
‘It’s not possible for everybody to go home to celebrate, so it’s for all the expats that live here and want to get a piece of the action.
‘We have all sorts of different memorabilia, we’re selling bunting and freshly baked scones and sausage rolls for people to come down and purchase and recreate tea parties at home as well.
‘So we kind of covered the whole British aspect from all angles.’
Ms Powers, whose uncle founded the King’s Head, and has lived in California for 20 years, said the festivities had also attracted many American visitors.
‘They love it…anything about the Royal Family,’ she said.
‘They’ve been glued to the TV today because we’ve been showing the British coverage (of celebrations).’
She added that they had hired an impersonator of the Queen to ‘stop by’ throughout the weekend, but had failed to acquire a Corgi.
The pub is also popular with British and Irish celebrities including David Beckham, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
US rocker Ozzy Osbourne also reportedly frequents the gift shop and has been rumoured to spend thousands of dollars on British-brand chocolate.
He said of the service: ‘I always get nervous. You can’t help it because you want it to go well and therefore you’re nervous to make sure it does goes well and worried about what might go wrong.’
He also spoke about an incident during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee when his cape ripped.
‘I put on my cape and I was bounding down the stairs of the vestry and I caught the cape on the door latch and ripped it and this is in the afternoon, before the service.
‘So, they had an emergency embroiderer who came in early in the morning to stitch it back up again.’
Later, Dr David will say in The Bidding: ‘We come together in this Cathedral Church today to offer to God our thanks and praise for the reign of Her Majesty the Queen and especially for her 70 years of faithful and dedicated service.
‘As we gather from communities across her realm and the Commonwealth of Nations, we rejoice in the diverse and varied lives of all those whom she serves, and in the beauty and abundance of the world in which we live.
‘Inspired by words and music, we pray that God will continue to bless and guide Her Majesty, and that we may all receive grace to honour life and to live in harmony with one another; and we continue to pray for those whose lives are marred by conflict, suffering and tragedy.
‘And mindful of the call of God to look to the needs of others, we commit ourselves afresh to caring for our world and all for whom it is home, striving always to seek out and nurture that which is good in people and in all creation.’
Those invited in recognition of their service have all been recipients of honours in the New Year or Birthday Honours lists and their number also includes public servants and representatives from social enterprises and voluntary groups.
Boris Johnson, who will give a New Testament reading, and members of his Cabinet are among the guests along with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, first ministers of the devolved governments and former prime ministers.
The diplomatic world will be represented by high commissioners and ambassadors from across the world and also attending are governors general and clergy from world faiths.
The Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell will give the sermon after the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tested positive for Covid-19. The Dean of the Chapel Royal, Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, will give the Collect and the Blessing, and the Dean of St Paul’s will conduct the service.
Young people representing countries where the Queen is head of state will lead the ‘Act of Commitment’ celebrating the life and reign of the monarch, led by the Reverend Robert Kozak.
During the day, one of the country’s largest bells, the Great Paul, will be rung before and after the service, the first time it will have been heard at a royal occasion.
The event will feature a new anthem by Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music, that sets to music words from the third Chapter of the Book of Proverbs.
Bible readings, hymns and prayers to express thankfulness for the Queen’s reign, faith and service will also be heard by the congregation as the nation marks the monarch’s 70 years on the throne.
Before the service begins, the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth (Royal Band), will play as the congregation arrives and the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry will perform to mark royal arrivals, while the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force will accompany later in the service.
The choirs of St Paul’s Cathedral and Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal will join together to sing the Vivats, I Was Glad by Sir Hubert Parry, performed at every coronation and now for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Today, the Princess Royal will see penguins at Edinburgh Zoo as members of the royal family visit the nations of the UK to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee.
She will be joined by her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, on her visit to the Scottish capital on Friday.
Harry and Meghan, joined by her mother Doria, show Archie to the Queen and Prince Philip at Windsor Castle on May 2019
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle flew to the UK earlier this week and are staying at Frogmore Cottage, their home in Windsor
Princes Harry and William, pictured with their wives Meghan and Kate, in March 2020 after a service at Westminster Abbey
Anne will join children for an animal handling session in the Rainforest Room at the zoo, before visiting the penguin enclosure. She will then visit HMS Albion and inspect a Guard of Honour before boarding the ship.
How Elizabeth became Queen watching baboons at sunrise from Kenyan treetops
Princess Elizabeth was watching baboons while taking photographs of the Kenyan sunrise from a hotel set in the branches of a giant fig tree when she became Queen.
It was February 6 1952 and the 25-year-old princess and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh were in the African country on a Commonwealth tour.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in Kenya in February 1952
Back in the UK, the ailing King George VI died in the early hours of the morning at Sandringham.
Elizabeth and Philip had spent the night at the remote Treetops Hotel, accessible via a ladder, in Aberdare Forest, where they watched baboons in the jungle. The princess climbed up to a look-out point at the top of the tree to see the dawn breaking.
The duke’s equerry and friend, Mike Parker, was at the Queen’s side at the look-out when they spotted an eagle hovering overhead. ‘I never thought about it until later but that was roughly the time when the King died,’ he later recalled.
Lady Pamela Hicks, who was the Queen’s lady in waiting and also Philip’s cousin, said the Queen and the duke were were ‘the last people in the world to hear’ that King had died. ‘She goes up as a princess. The king dies that night. She comes down the ladder as a Queen,’ Lady Pamela said.
Secret ciphers were sent by the British Embassy to the governor, announcing the King’s death, but the coded messages could not be read as the key to the code was elsewhere.
When the news finally filtered through to royal aides, Elizabeth was resting later at Sagana Lodge, a wedding present from the people of Kenya. The Queen’s private secretary, Martin Charteris, was in the nearby town, having a drink in a restaurant, when a writer approached him and remarked on the news.
Returning to the Lodge, he told Mr Parker, who crawled into the room were the Queen was at her desk, motioned to the Duke of Edinburgh and secretly turned on the radio very low to get confirmation but prevent the Queen finding out this way.
It allowed Philip to break the sad news to his wife while they were alone as he took her into the garden, telling her as they walked slowly up and down the lawn.
Lord Charteris remembered seeing the new monarch seated at her desk in the Lodge appearing ‘very composed, absolute master of her fate’ and ready to fulfil the role for which she had been carefully groomed.
Asked what name she wished to use as Queen, she replied simply: ‘My own name, of course.’
Just hours later, the monarch and her consort were on their way back home. Lord Charteris and Mr Parker had packed up, worked out timetables, sent a flood of signals, organised a plane at Entebbe, another from Mombasa to get there, and timed a London airport arrival for 4pm the following day.
With the King’s health failing when they had left home, a Royal Standard had been stowed in the baggage. Elizabeth’s mourning clothes, waiting for her in Entebbe, were prepared for her to wear.
It was dusk on February 7 1952 when a slim, pale figure, dressed in mourning black, descended the steps of the jet airliner.
After a long journey home, the young, new Queen set foot on English soil – the runway at London airport – for the first time as sovereign.
On the flight deck of the amphibious assault vessel the princess will meet members of the ship’s company and representatives from charities across Scotland supported by the Queen and Anne as patrons, before cutting a commemorative cake.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Earl and Countess of Wessex will visit Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.
William and Kate will travel to Cardiff on Saturday to meet some of Wales’s best-known performers before a Platinum Jubilee celebration concert.
They will meet the crew behind the event at Cardiff Castle, learning about the lighting, sound and visual effects for the show before helping with the final preparations.
The couple will also watch rehearsals and meet Aled Jones and Shan Cothi, both hosting the show which will feature Mike Peters from The Alarm, singer Bonnie Tyler, West End star John Owen Jones, drumming weatherman Owain Wyn Evans and the Pendyrus Male Voice Choir.
The performances will finish at 7pm and the crowds can then watch the Platinum Party at the Palace on giant screens in the castle grounds.
Over the extended Jubilee bank holiday weekend the Earl and Countess of Wessex will carry out two engagements in Northern Ireland.
Sophie and Edward will meet children taking part in multicultural street performances, join in with art and craft sessions, and speak to people sharing their personal memories of meeting the Queen.
Last night, the Queen symbolically led the lighting of the principal Platinum Jubilee beacon in a spectacular end to the first day of historic national commemorations celebrating her 70-year-reign.
The monarch’s late-night appearance at Windsor Castle rounded off the start to joyful festivities which saw the Queen take to the Buckingham Palace balcony surrounded by her family.
Hours after it was announced the head of state would miss the service at St Paul’s Cathedral, she rallied as planned to take part in a special dual beacon-lighting ceremony with the Duke of Cambridge.
William watched his grandmother on a large screen in front of Buckingham Palace, while the Queen triggered the lighting of the principal beacon – a 69ft tall Tree of Trees sculpture outside her London residence – from Windsor.
The Queen touched the Commonwealth of Nations Globe to start the lighting of the main beacon 22 miles away.
Lights chased along the Quadrangle towards Windsor’s famous Round Tower, before travelling up the 21-metre Tree of Trees, made up of 350 saplings, illuminating the sculpture which towered above the palace, watched by William.
As she walked from Windsor Castle’s Sovereign’s Entrance into the Quadrangle the Queen saw more than 100 people who live within the walls of the royal home and were invited to the event.
Peter McGowran, chief yeoman warder from the Tower of London, carefully placed the Commonwealth of Nations Globe on a stand that glowed purple.
The object – a globe of the world within a crown – has been kept at the tower for safety and other yeoman warders were in attendance.
After touching the symbol of the world, which sat on a cushion, the purple stand turned white and a river of purple lights spread across the Quadrangle and turned white in succession.
Pageant master Bruno Peake, who organised the beacons marking the Queen’s diamond and platinum jubilees, said more than 3,500 beacons would be lit around the globe, something the Queen commented on.
After speaking to the monarch he added: ‘She said, ‘More beacons, every time you do it you have more beacons’ – which is great.
‘To be able to stand next to your monarch commemorating a unique anniversary and moment in her life is such a privilege. It looked as though she didn’t want to leave.’
The Queen was wearing a new piece of jewellery for the event – a diamond brooch which was a gift commissioned by the Goldsmiths’ Company to mark her Platinum Jubilee.
The brooch was inspired by the four home nations which are represented by four diamond swirls and the national flowers – rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock.
It also includes a representation of the flowering plant lily of the valley, which was part of the Queen’s Coronation bouquet.
The palace beacon was one of more than 3,500 around the UK and the Commonwealth, including the Tower of London, Windsor Great Park, Hillsborough Castle, the Queen’s estates of Sandringham and Balmoral, and on top of the UK’s four highest peaks.
Flaming tributes were lit at towns and cities across Northern Ireland including at Titanic Belfast and St Columb’s Cathedral in Londonderry, while in Scotland, a beacon was set ablaze at Edinburgh Castle as a piper played.
Queen’s relationships with 14 prime ministers
The Queen’s 70 years as sovereign has seen 14 prime ministers, from Second World War statesman Sir Winston Churchill to present premier Boris Johnson.
Political leaders have consistently paid tribute to the monarch for her sage advice and impressive knowledge on home and world affairs during her private weekly audiences with her PMs.
Sir Winston, her first prime minister, is thought to be her favourite. He greeted the young, grieving monarch back on British soil after her sudden return from Kenya on the death of her father, King George VI. When Sir Winston retired in 1955, the Queen sent him a hand-written letter telling him how much she missed him and how no successor ‘will ever for me be able to hold the place of my first Prime Minister’. Sir Winston had nurtured her through the early years, giving her invaluable advice.
The Queen’s relationship with the starchy Sir Anthony Eden was certainly more formal, while Harold Macmillan was an urbane figure in contrast to the monarch who is a countrywoman at heart. However, on one occasion, rather than discussing affairs of state at one of their audiences, the Queen and Mr Macmillan could be seen huddled over a transistor radio as US astronaut John Glenn was hurtling through space.
Sir Alec Douglas-Home reportedly met with royal approval. An aide said: ‘He was an old friend. They talked about dogs and shooting together. They were both Scottish landowners, the same sort of people, like old schoolfriends.’
Harold Wilson endeared himself to the Queen. ‘They got on like a house on fire,’ one long-standing member of the Labour Party said. He used to join members of the royal family for riverside picnics at Balmoral.
However, Sir Edward Heath is said to have struggled with small talk and their weekly audiences have been described as ‘frosty’.
James Callaghan managed to establish a warm rapport. He said about the Queen: ‘One of the great things about her is that she always seems able to see the funny side of life. All the conversations were very enjoyable.’
But things were very different with Margaret Thatcher, who reportedly found the traditional September weekend at Balmoral painful. One observer wrote: ‘A weekend in the country with aristocrats who enjoy riding, shooting, sports and games is Thatcher’s idea of torture. But her dread of the weekend receded as the two women became somewhat more comfortable with one another.’
Baroness Thatcher also could not abide the charades that she was expected to play after dinner at Balmoral and the Queen later, at a gathering of six of her premiers, joked about ‘the party games which some of you have so nobly endured at Balmoral’. When Baroness Thatcher died in April 2013, the Queen took the unusual step of attending her ceremonial funeral – a personal decision and an indication of the Queen’s respect for her first – and at the time her only – female prime minister.
Sir John Major was popular with the royal family, and the Queen in particular, largely because of the genuine concern he expressed for the welfare of the two young princes William and Harry, first on the divorce of their parents and then on the death of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
Sir Tony Blair was described in some palace quarters as a ‘head of state-in-waiting’, and there were courtiers who were not happy by what they saw as his encouragement of a ‘people’s monarchy’. Neither Sir Tony, who later revealed details of his private conversations with the Queen in his memoirs, nor Gordon Brown, who was reported to have a good but formal relationship with the royals, were invited to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011.
A red-faced David Cameron was forced to make a grovelling apology to the Queen in 2014 after his ‘purr-gate’ blunder. Mr Cameron was caught on camera telling then New York mayor Michael Bloomberg that the monarch had ‘purred down the line’ when he telephoned and told her the result of the Scottish independence referendum.
Theresa May was the second female prime minister of the Queen’s reign – taking up her post in July 2016 in the wake of the Brexit vote, more than a quarter of a century after Mrs Thatcher stood down. Ahead of the Platinum Jubilee, Mrs May told the House of Commons: ‘She has seen prime ministers come and go, I was number 13.’
She added: ‘She has greeted us all with charm and consideration and with an impressive knowledge and understanding of the issues of the day.’
Mrs May attempted an impression of the Queen as she recalled how the head of state was driving her to a BBQ in the Scottish Highlands when they came across a large stag. ‘Her Majesty slammed on the brakes and said: ‘What’s he doing here?’.’
She added: ‘She couldn’t understand why he had come down so low. She knew the countryside, she knew its animals.’
Mrs May’s premiership ended in 2019 after she endured a torrid time dogged by the issue of Brexit. She was succeeded by Boris Johnson.
Mr Johnson was only a few hours into his post when he revealed what was said in his audience with the Queen as he accepted her invitation to form the next Government and become PM. A correspondent for Euronews NBC said the outspoken politician claimed the monarch quipped ‘I don’t know why anyone would want the job’.
Mr Johnson, who disclosed the remarks during a tour in 10 Downing Street, was told off by staff who warned him not to repeat such things so loudly. He later talked about their private audiences again, describing their meetings as a ‘very tough interview’. A few months into his premiership, Mr Johnson apologised to the Queen after the Supreme Court ruled his advice to her – imparted by Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg at Balmoral – to prorogue Parliament for five weeks had been ‘unlawful’.
Another apology to Buckingham Palace came from Downing Street amid the pandemic when two staff leaving events were held at Number 10 on April 16 last year, the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. Sue Gray’s report into the partygate scandal later revealed that staff carried on drinking at Number 10 the night before Philip’s funeral until the early hours, with the last person not leaving until 4.20am.
On April 17, the Queen sat alone in mourning for her late husband amid strict Covid restrictions, with the congregation limited to just 30 people. Mr Johnson revealed during a Parliamentary tribute to the Queen in her Jubilee year that his regular meetings with the monarch were always ‘immensely comforting, because she has seen the sweep of it’.
The Duke of Cambridge described the start of the Queen’s historic Platinum Jubilee celebrations as ‘a big day’ and ‘pretty impressive’.
Speaking to Mike Bloomberg, sponsor of the Tree of Trees principal beacon, the duke said: ‘It was a big day today, It was pretty impressive. Did you see the flypast?’
A run of festooned lights laid on the ground outside the London residence lit up, followed by 3,500 lights on the 69ft tall living Tree of Trees sculpture, made up of 350 saplings.
William, speaking to designer Thomas Heatherwick, said of the creation: ‘It looks amazing.’
The living sculpture reflects the planting of more than a million trees as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) initiative to mark 70 years of her reign.
Mr Heatherwick said afterwards that the Queen was the first to notice the sculpture was as tall as three giraffes.
‘We talked about how his grandmother was really responsible for the initiative and how she had described it as being three giraffes high,’ Mr Heatherwick said.
‘It’s 70ft high and she said, ‘That’s three giraffes’. When it was two-thirds complete, she saw it and said, ‘That’s two giraffes’.’
William chatted with singer-songwriter Gregory Porter, who performed a specially composed song, A Life Lived With Grace, alongside the London Community Gospel Choir.
The duke told the US musician: ‘Your voice gets even more impressive every time I see you. It’s even more moving. It’s brilliant.’
William joked about where the sculpture should end up, saying: ‘Have you got any ideas where it should go next?’
Porter replied: ‘Hyde Park. One more tree,’ with William laughing and agreeing ‘One more tree’.
The duke wished Porter well, telling him: ‘Look after those vocal cords.’
After the Jubilee weekend, the saplings in their pots will be donated to community groups and individuals around the country.
As part of the ceremony, photos of the Queen from each of the decades of her reign were projected on to the front of the palace. They included one of her on horseback as she took the salute at Trooping the Colour in the 1980s.
Earlier in the day cheeky Prince Louis stole the show on the palace’s famous frontage as he covered his ears with his hands and let out a howl of excitement as a flypast roared overhead.
The four-year-old stood next to the Queen, known affectionately as ‘Gan Gan’ to the Cambridge children, as she leaned down to talk to her great-grandson, pointing out things of interest
Thousands of well-wishers packed on to The Mall in the June sunshine, erupting in cheers for the nation’s longest reigning monarch, with the smiling Queen delighted at the patriotic scenes.
The Queen made two appearances on the palace balcony.
She joined her cousin the Duke of Kent to take a salute of her soldiers returning from Trooping the Colour, after the Prince of Wales deputised for her on the parade ground.
Then she re-emerged, wearing sunglasses, to watch the six-minute flypast of more than 70 aircraft, including 15 RAF Typhoons in the formation of the number 70.
Dressed in a dusky dove blue Angela Kelly coat which she wore for her official Jubilee portrait, and matching hat, the Queen, who has mobility issues, was holding a walking stick and wearing the Guards’ Badge on her coat.
Eighteen royals including the head of state stepped out for the flypast, with Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Louis flanking the monarch.
The crowds had been treated to the sight of the Cambridge youngsters waving in their first carriage procession, joined by proud parent Kate and their step-grandmother Camilla.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were among the guests who watched Trooping the Colour at Horse Guards from inside the Duke of Wellington’s former office, overlooking the parade ground.
They stayed out of the limelight and joined more than 30 royals including Camilla and Kate and the Queen’s extended family including all of her grandchildren.
But there was no place for the Sussexes, who caused a crisis by quitting as senior royals, or the Queen’s disgraced second son the Duke of York on the palace balcony.
The Queen decided to limit it to working members of the family, her Cambridge great-grandchildren and two youngest grandchildren.
As the four days of celebrations continue, Andrew is to also miss Friday’s service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s after catching Covid.
On the balcony with the Queen were: the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, the Duke of Kent, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Princess Royal, Charles and Camilla, the Cambridges, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children Viscount Severn and Lady Louise Windsor.