By Yolande Brener
After the Platinum Jubilee weekend finished, I sat in my Harlem apartment and looked at different reports from friends and acquaintances.
Although some people considered it a “Union Jack plaster on a gaping wound,” others pointed out that “the Queen was a constant in their lives,” and that she had shown her human side when “sitting alone at her husband’s funeral because of Covid restrictions, on the same day all the staff at Number 10 were… having a party.” One of the most enthusiastic supporters said, “Looking at the crowds outside Buckingham Palace today I think many people love our Queen. We are having a jubilee-themed family barbecue and cream tea… got banners and everything! To have seventy years on the throne is amazing. My hubby has met Her Majesty and we are all supporters!”
The Queen did not attend any festivities after Thursday due to “episodic mobility issues.” However, she did make a surprise balcony appearance on Sunday and shared a letter thanking her supporters.
The Queen and Paddington
The Queen watched the Platinum Party at the Palace from Windsor on Saturday June 4th. Videos of her life were projected on the walls of the palace, and she made a cameo appearance with Paddington Bear before the first act. A spectacular light show on Buckingham Palace was the backdrop to a concert that included Queen with Adam Lambert, Elton John, Alicia Keys, and Duran Duran with Nile Rodgers.
Diana Ross ended the show with “Chain Reaction” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
Tens of thousands of people attended the concert at Buckingham Palace, and nearly 12 million watched it live on television.
Sunday June 5th was the Big Lunch when people were invited to create their own street parties or attend an organized event. One of Windsor’s Royal Ambassadors, Jan W, helped set up 489 trestle tables on the Long Walk leading to Windsor Castle. It took from 6:45 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. for the team to put up and decorate the record line of picnic tables in Windsor. The tickets for the tables sold out in thirteen minutes but many people brought their own picnic supplies.
“The event felt local and international,” said Ms. W. “There was roving entertainment for the kids. Live music including school choirs and community choirs made it feel local. Foreign camera crews and many international visitors were there trying to capture that British essence and the culture of the street party! Even if people aren’t fans, they’re not averse to having a knees-up!”
One merrymaker shared what it was like in her Cotswolds village. “At the Queen’s Coronation a great aunt of a nearby hamlet’s resident had driven a horse and cart from said hamlet, so [the great nephew] decided to do such again for this jubilee. There was the Cirencester Brass Band, Morris dancers (from Hampstead), a barrel organ, silent auction, raffle and tea with cakes and sandwiches… [There was] fun and laughter to be had by all. A loyal toast, sparkling wine and prayer rounded the afternoon off.”
Not everybody who responded was a fan, though.
Ty from London said, “It’s just weird having one family rule over the rest of us. Good luck to them but it’s time we became a republic and had a bicycle monarchy. The UK Government is spending at least £28,000,000 (twenty eight million pounds) on the jubilee celebrations at a time when many of the citizens have to choose between heating and eating.”
Nelson from London said, “The royals themselves should’ve brought about reforms by now. It’s long overdue. It’s a monolithic medieval throwback which has way too much money, power and influence. It’s at the apex of the regressive class system and this is actually keeping the UK backward. Just look at Brexit and the endless war agenda. It’s a kind of mentality that is backward in its world view.”
Love of tradition and desire for change appeared to coexist behind this glittering display of support for the Queen. As Mark from London said, “On the one hand there’s a feeling like there’s not much to celebrate right now but on the other, Elizabeth personifies a kind of simple dignified love of country without all the swivel-eyed jingoism that usually accompanies patriotic fervor. It’s a kind of cozy sense of familiarity and continuity. For most living Brits she’s the only monarch we’ve ever known. Gonna be strange when she’s gone, whatever you think about the monarchy in general.”
It is hard to imagine what the monarchy will be like without the Queen, and whether anyone can take her place. Will people continue to enjoy the pomp and ceremony, or would a bicycle monarchy be more appropriate? Will there be another event like this?
As Jan W reported from the Windsor Big Lunch, “A couple of elderly ladies reminisced about the 1977 Silver Jubilee. They said today of the whole Big Lunch and coming together that ‘this is it.’ This is what being British meant to them.”
More videos from the Jubilee:
Links for children’s song sections:
Read the first part of Yolande’s Yard: The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Celebrating Seventy Years Of Change And Progress (Updated) if you missed it.
Read more about Yolande’s Yard by Yolande Brener here.
Yolande Brener is an English writer living in Harlem, NY. She is the author of Holy Candy, a book about faith, love, and change. She is a seeker and lover of the arts as she talks about on her Yolande Brener blog. She’s published work in New York Press, Fiction Magazine, The Promethean, and Harlem World Magazine. She has received awards from The British Film Institute, the Arts Council of Great Britain, the NYC Parks Department Poems in the Park, and Writer’s Digest e-Book Awards in Life Stories. www.yolandebrener.com.
Photo credit: All photographs by Jan W, except horse and carriage photo by Anonymous.