Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had lunch with the Queen and senior royals behind closed doors yesterday as part of the Royal Family’s private Platinum Jubilee celebrations following Trooping The Colour, it has been claimed.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expected to remain mostly low-profile over the four-day 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 this morning 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.
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
Meanwhile key workers, charity volunteers and members of the armed forces have been invited to the Queen’s service of thanksgiving 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.
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.
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.
The Dean of St Paul’s, Dr David Ison, 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.