Monday 30 May 2022 7:26 AM UTC
LONDON May 30: Britain is getting ready for a party featuring mounted troops, solemn prayers — and a pack of dancing mechanical corgis.
The nation will celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne this week with four days of pomp and pageantry in central London. But behind the brass bands, street parties and a planned appearance by the aging queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, lies a drive to show that the royal family still remains relevant after seven decades of change.
And the royals, sometimes criticised as out of touch with modern Britain, want to show that their support comes from all parts of a society that has become more multicultural amid immigration from the Caribbean, South Asia and Eastern Europe.
As part of the jubilee pageant, dancers from London’s African-Caribbean community will don costumes of giant flamingos, zebras and giraffes to re-imagine the moment in 1952 when Princess Elizabeth learned she had become queen while visiting a game park in Kenya.
Another group will recall the queen’s 1947 marriage to Prince Philip and celebrate weddings around the Commonwealth with Bollywood-style dancing.
If the depleted stock at the Cool Britannia gift shop is any indication, the jubilee has caught public attention. The shop around the corner from Buckingham Palace has run out of Platinum Jubilee tea towels. Spoons are sparse. Mugs are in short supply.
The question for the House of Windsor is whether the public will transfer their love for the queen to her son and heir, Prince Charles, when the time comes.
It is a problem that stems, in part, from the queen’s unprecedented reign, the longest in British history. The only monarch most people have ever known, she has become synonymous with the monarchy itself.
Since assuming the throne after the death of her father on February 6, 1952, Elizabeth has been a symbol of stability as the country negotiated the end of Empire, the birth of the computer age and the mass migration that transformed Britain into a multicultural society.
The shy woman with a small handbag, a trailing corgi and passion for horses presided over an era that spawned Monty Python, the Beatles and the Sex Pistols. People who thought they knew her thought wrong — as evidenced by her star turn as a Bond Girl at the 2012 London Olympics.
Yet through it all, the queen has built a bond with the nation through a seemingly endless series of public appearances as she opened libraries, dedicated hospitals and bestowed honours on deserving citizens.
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