Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday brought the curtain down on her historic Platinum Jubilee celebrations, making a rare public appearance on the last of four days of festivities and vowing to maintain her record-breaking reign.
The 96-year-old monarch, who has been dogged by problems with walking and standing, appeared for the first time in person since two showings on Thursday on the Buckingham Palace balcony after the Trooping the Colour military parade.
That effort forced her to pull out of a thanksgiving church service on Friday, plus the Epsom Derby horse race and a star-studded concert on Saturday.
Huge crowds stretching hundreds of metres down The Mall outside the palace cheered as she re-emerged onto the balcony briefly Sunday afternoon.
It followed a public parade reflecting changes in music, dance, fashion, culture and society since she came to the throne way back in 1952.
Dressed in green with a matching hat, her white gloved hand clutching a walking stick, she was flanked by the three future kings: Princes Charles, William and George.
In a statement issued shortly after, the monarch said she had been “humbled and deeply touched” by the turnout for her Platinum Jubilee celebrations and “inspired by the kindness, joy and kinship that has been so evident in recent days”.
“While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all; and I remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability, supported by my family,” Britain’s longest-serving sovereign added.
Sunday’s £15-million ($18.7-million) Platinum Jubilee Pageant, featuring some 10,000 people, began with a parade of armed forces from the UK and the Commonwealth she heads.
The queen’s hologram was projected onto the sovereign’s 260-year-old Gold State Coach that led the celebration of her record-breaking reign.
Some 6,000 disabled and non-disabled performers from street theatre, carnival and puppetry joined in to celebrate the queen’s life and reign.
Highlights included an aerial artist suspended under a vast helium balloon, known as a heliosphere, bearing the sovereign’s image.
The carnival included a giant oak tree flanked with maypole dancers, a huge moving wedding cake, bangra drummers, steel bands, plus African-Caribbean carnival animals and a towering dancing dragon.
In the royal box, Charles kept his four-year-old grandson Prince Louis entertained, bouncing him on his knees to the rhythm of the music.
Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran wrapped up the pageant with a rendition of his 2017 hit “Perfect”, and the national anthem “God Save the Queen”.
Elsewhere across the country, more than 10 million people are estimated to have braved overcast skies to share food with friends, family and neighbours to mark the occasion.
Two public holidays on Thursday and Friday, longer pub opening hours, street parties and other events have temporarily lifted the gloom of soaring inflation and political turmoil plus two years of enforced Covid closures.
Many saw it as a once-in-a-generation event to mark the closing of an extraordinary chapter in British life and to recognise its most famous national symbol.
On Saturday night, she put in a surprise on-screen appearance, taking tea with the beloved children’s book and film character Paddington Bear.
In the pre-recorded video, she tapped out the drumbeat of rock band Queen’s “We Will Rock You” — the concert’s opening number — on a fine china teacup and saucer to get the party started.
A peak of 13.4 million viewers watched the concert on television, the BBC said.
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