Buckingham Palace on Thursday evening announced the “reluctant” absence of the 96-year-old monarch, still the head of the church and very religious, due to a certain “discomfort”. More often than not, the queen, who has difficulty walking, is represented by her heir, Charles.
She appeared on the balcony of the castle twice on Thursday, and took part in a brief ceremony to light the lights at Windsor Castle in the evening.
The religious ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral in London marks the first royal appearance in Britain for Prince Harry and Meghan since moving to California two years ago.
The Duke of Sussex, with military medals hanging from his jacket, and the Duchess, in a white dress, arrived shortly after 11am (1000 GMT) to applause – and some booze – on the steps of the cathedral.
Prior to his arrival Prime Minister Boris Johnson, cheering from the crowd, was holding the hand of his wife Carrie and his predecessors Tony Blair and David Cameron.
A heavy ceremony surrounds this religious ceremony, with guards in traditional uniforms on the courtyard and the stairs, and bells ringing continuously. Attended by around 2,000 people, the event is one of the highlights of the four-day festivities that mark the record longevity of the much-loved Queen Elizabeth, who ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, at the age of 25 .
Lunch in Windsor
“It’s a very dynamic moment”, recognizes 55-year-old Karen Fletcher, who appeared in front of Saint-Paul early in the morning. “We will never see anything like this again”, she finds herself “sad” that the Queen does not come, while understanding that “she must take care of herself”.
“It’s historic,” says 51-year-old Roger Nagy, who came exclusively from the United States. He finds the monarchy ‘great’, and for Harry and Meghan, ‘they should stay back, they can do whatever they want with their lives’ but nothing to say, it’s all up to the Queen, not them” .
The return of the “Sussexes”, who had come from the United States with their two young children for the celebrations, has shed a lot of hostile ink, a reflection of the great unpopularity in the United Kingdom since their departure and their sensational confession to television American.
After the family tensions of the past two years, all gestures and gaze will be checked with a magnifying glass before, during and after the service. For two years, relations between Harry, 37, and William, 39, second in line to the throne, have been almost non-existent. They are hardly better off with their father, Prince Charles, the heir to the crown.
According to the couple’s biographer, Omid Scobie, they had lunch with family members in Windsor on Thursday, giving the Queen a chance to meet her daughter Lillibet, who is celebrating her first birthday on Saturday, for the first time.
The Queen’s second son, 62-year-old Andrew, was absent on Friday because he had Covid-19, according to Buckingham Palace. He no longer has an official role in the United States following allegations of sexual assault in connection with the Epstein case, which he ended by paying several million dollars.
On Thursday, neither he nor Harry and Meghan were invited to the Buckingham Palace balcony from where tens of thousands of Londoners cheered for the Queen. Meghan and Harry were seen from a distance as they salute the Colors Military Parade from another building.
The celebrations will continue with a large evening concert in front of Buckingham Palace on Saturday, preceded by thousands of luncheons and popular parties among neighbors on Sunday, and a massive parade in the streets of London in the evening, with some 10,000 participants.
Taking advantage of this patriotic atmosphere, and unlike the 96-year-old monarch preparing for the future, the Conservative government launched a consultation on Friday to restore the use of the imperial measurement system, in the wake of Brexit. Allow stores to certify pin sizes with a return of pounds instead of kilos, and a logo representing a crown instead of the European CE.
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