As Britain celebrates Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th year on the throne, it’s time to ask whether the third longest-reigning monarch in world history is preparing to hang up her crown. After decades of service to her nation, the 96-year-old queen may be ready to step down from her leading position and hand the throne over to Prince Charles – a man who, to many, seems more suited to the politically correct environment of modern times.
It would be a harsh critic who suggests Elizabeth has put a foot wrong during her role as titular head of state of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies, and the British Overseas Territories. She has navigated new governments, wars, and innumerable constitutional crises throughout her tenure, and remains in the good favor of the majority of the British population. But times are different now, and decorum and grace seem not to be enough. What better way to end an era than with a four-day weekend filled with pomp and circumstance and the biggest party in a generation?
The Platinum Jubilee
Britain will celebrate with street parties, picnics, parades, and a host of other festivities to mark the occasion. The queen herself will oversee a number of public events, which began this morning with the Trooping the Colour (“Colour” meaning regimental flag) at 10 a.m. local time (5 a.m. EST). This 260-year-old tradition saw 1,500 members of the Household Division (dressed in the familiar red jackets and large bearskin hats), 250 horses, and hundreds of musicians march from Buckingham Palace down the Mall to the Horse Guards Parade, and then return to the Palace. Upon their return, they were greeted by the queen from the infamous palace balcony.
To signal the parade’s end, 70 aircraft performed a flypast, including the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Red Arrows.
Other attractions for the long weekend include the lighting of thousands of beacons across Britain, parties with guest performers including Diana Ross, and a thanksgiving service to pay tribute to the queen’s service. As a keen horse enthusiast, Elizabeth will likely visit Epsom Downs racecourse for the world-famous Derby. On Sunday, to cap the end of the celebration, Brits will have a Big Jubilee Lunch – a series of street parties featuring traditional party dishes, flags, and bunting. There are plans underway for such celebration lunches all over the world.
The last two years have not been kind to Queen Elizabeth. In April 2021, her husband, Prince Philip, passed away, ending a partnership that lasted 73 years. She described Philip as her “constant strength and guide.” Since his death, Elizabeth’s public appearances have been limited.
A very public scandal between Prince Harry, his wife Meghan Markle, and the Royal Family cast aspersions of racism at the palace courtesy of a “tell-all” interview with Oprah Winfrey. Markle stated that her son, Archie, would not receive a royal title because of her mixed-race heritage, prompting media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic to decry the royals and their alleged prejudice. However, as Liberty Nation reported at the time, according to royal tradition going back more than 100 years, the “title of Prince would extend to only the grandchildren of the reigning monarch.” But then, facts rarely get in the way of a media frenzy narrative.
Earlier this year, Prince Andrew, the queen’s second son, brought added scrutiny to the family when he paid a settlement to sexual abuse accuser Virginia Giuffre as part of a lawsuit related to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Even before the case was underway, the palace released a statement, saying, “With the Queen’s approval and agreement, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen.” This missive meant that Andrew would face the lawsuit as a private citizen and could not use royal privileges to avoid the civil trial.
As head of the Royal Family, Queen Elizabeth has been the focal point around which all vexation has gathered.
Ending an Era
On May 10, heir to the throne Prince Charles, for the first time, oversaw the State Opening of Parliament and delivered the Queen’s Speech. The speech lays out the government of the day’s plans for legislation and is one of the most important – although largely ceremonial – events on the parliamentary calendar. Buckingham Palace cited “mobility issues” as the reason for the royal replacement; having recently recovered from COVID-19, the queen noted that the illness “does leave one very tired and exhausted, doesn’t it?”
Charles also received the “salute” during the jubilee’s Trooping the Colour parade, a role traditionally reserved for the monarch. Alongside Prince William and Princess Anne, the royal sat on horseback, before he led the return of the march. Elizabeth accepted a second salute from her perch on the palace balcony.
The attendance of the Sussexes – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – at the festivities has been a cause for consternation among the palace household. With a Netflix deal on the line, the US-based couple seems keen to exploit their connections in the name of content creation, something Queen Elizabeth is apparently hoping to avoid. “Even if they [Harry and Meghan] accept that their Netflix crew can’t go into Buckingham Palace to film, they could cause problems — and at the very least cause a major distraction,” a palace insider told The Sun newspaper. “Senior courtiers believe that Netflix will see it as one big opportunity to exploit their mega-millions agreement with the couple … So, a team of Palace aides will be on standby to keep a very close eye on the crew, and act as minders if needs be,” the source explained.
Queen Elizabeth II is 96 years old and has spent 70 years in service to her country. She has lived a life of duty in the public eye, always striving to protect the reputation and dignity of her role. The idea that she must face her remaining years as a bit-part player in a reality TV-style drama is likely not a task she is willing to embrace.
As the saying goes, it is always better to end on a high note; the biggest party of a generation filled with admiration and patriotic fervor seems a better way than most to bow out gracefully.