Happy Monday, everyone. As many of you no doubt saw, this weekend marked the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London, recognizing an unprecedented 70 years of service from Queen Elizabeth II. Instead of going event by event, I decided to wrap up major themes from the festivities in one all-encompassing post, so here we go.
Let’s start with the Queen. HM had two goals for this weekend (I would imagine): physically make it to as many events as possible and steer the conversation towards positive royal news, as opposed to the drama surrounding The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and The Duke of York. For all practical purposes, I think the Jubilee weekend was largely successful in those regards. The Queen attended Trooping the Colour on Thursday, which I would argue was the primary “unmissable” event on the royal agenda, and she was on hand again on Sunday for a final balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace. She missed two major events: the thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday and the Epsom Derby on Saturday, but I would argue Trooping was frankly more important given that it’s such a traditional anchor on the royal calendar.
When it comes to how to mark seventy years as your Queen, there is no guidebook to follow. It really is a first. But I have been humbled and deeply touched that so many people have taken to the streets to celebrate my Platinum Jubilee.
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.
I have been inspired by the kindness, joy and kinship that has been so evident in recent days, and I hope this renewed sense of togetherness will be felt for many years to come.
I thank you most sincerely for your good wishes and for the part you have all played in these happy celebrations.ELIZABETH R
Everything else aside, my primary takeaway from the last four days is that (unsurprisingly) affection for the Queen remains incredibly high and there was massive excitement in celebrating her. A video showing her taking tea with Paddington Bear (I love how that sounds out of context) may have hit a softer note than her Bond video with Daniel Craig in 2012, but it was the perfect amount of whimsy and let her be visually represented in the midst of the weekend events she bowed out of.
Before we move on, let’s quickly acknowledge Prince Andrew. As a disgraced and non-working royal, Andrew wasn’t expected to be a cornerstone of the Jubilee. For the first time, he did not join the rest of the family on the BP balcony for Trooping, however he *was* expected to attend Friday’s thanksgiving service, akin to what we saw with The Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service in March. Thanks to a positive – and diplomatic – COVID test, he was able to bow out of the event and thus keep a low-profile over the last four days. If it was real, then I’m sure Palace staff were thanking their stars because it certainly made life easier and kept media coverage lighter.
Was it fake? We don’t know. He was photographed on horseback as late as Wednesday, but we’re all familiar enough with the virus to know that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Regardless, it’s been reported that he hasn’t seen his mother in-person since receiving the test results.
Now for the other prickly situation – Harry and Meghan. The couple accepted the Queen’s invitation to join the festivities this weekend, bringing with them their two children, Archie and Lilibet. News of their attendance first broke in April following their “secret meeting” with the Queen and The Prince of Wales, sparking discussion of whether they would overshadow the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family with their usual swarm of drama, even if unintentional. In the end, yes, there was a regular cadence of articles tracking Harry and Meghan’s activities over the last few days, but no, I don’t think they actually overshadowed events. This weekend was about the Queen and Brand Royal, while Harry and Meghan were literally and figuratively off to the side.
For Trooping, (as expected) the couple were neither given a carriage nor a place on the balcony, instead remaining behind-the-scenes with other junior royals. They were photographed close to the windows interacting with Zara Tindall’s children. Their more official public appearance came on Friday when they entered St Paul’s Cathedral, however they were seated far from the “core four” – Charles, Camilla, William, and Kate. There are also reports that they received booing alongside cheers when entering the cathedral, but feedback has been mixed. As the weekend wore on, it was reported that they hosted a birthday party for Lilibet at Frogmore Cottage (their home on the Windsor estate) that was attended by Zara Tindall, Peter Phillips, and their children, among other non-royal friends. Finally, they flew back to California on Sunday a few hours before the Jubilee officially ended.
The end result? I’m sure die-hard Sussex fans will disagree, but I feel like the last few days underscored their irrelevancy when it comes to the overall machinery of the Royal Family. Whatever angst they caused last year, and however many people may have believed their narrative in full, the last four days brought massive, supportive crowds and boosted tourism, underlining that there is still very real affection and excitement for the Queen, if not the rest of her family.
I’m not sure how Harry and Meghan felt about it. Cynically, I have to think there is some understanding on their part – or at least Meghan’s – that their brand power is enhanced by reminding everyone of their familial ties with the Royal Family. The couple don’t make major headlines for their work, so much as when they publicly comment on the Windsors. Thus, turning up for this historic event and meeting with the Queen is strategic, in addition to whatever personal desire they may have to be there. I’m not sure if they thought more of a fuss would be made for them, but the way it looked to me was that they were there because the Queen asked them to be, but no one really paid them much mind. The Waleses and Cambridges were very much working this weekend and if the Sussexes’ presence caused any stress, they publicly seemed highly unbothered.
There was a report last Wednesday that relations between William and Harry were thawing, and that the brothers have been partaking in regular Zoom calls to chat and mend fences. I….don’t believe that. I think that was a smart story for the Palace to drop ahead of the Jubilee in the hopes of cutting off at the head any media narratives focused on William v. Harry or Kate v. Meghan. And while there was mention of the fact that the brothers didn’t publicly interact, it wasn’t the big story this weekend, so in the regard, well done Palace comms team.
Finally, um, the couples didn’t interact. On the one hand, I think that was for the best for the sake of keeping focus on the Queen, but on the other, that’s still wild to think about when you consider their history. Once upon a time, William and Harry would have been right next to each other during these types of engagements, so yes, it’s sad, and no, it’s not a strong signal that Harry has been re-embraced by the most senior royals. I guess now we will wait and see whether Harry gives any more interviews and if and how this weekend turns up in his forthcoming memoir. Fun.
Let’s move on to William and Kate, who were second only to the Queen in star power this weekend. Well, if not them, then certainly their children. Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis – maybe especially Louis – repeatedly stole the show. All three children shared a carriage with their mother and Camilla at Thursday’s Trooping.
Louis did not always seem to appreciate the entertainment.
While they did not attend the thanksgiving service on Friday, all three joined their parents and cousins for the celebratory concert on Saturday, as well as Sunday’s pageant.
And by the end, I think it’s safe to say the kids were OVER IT 😉
But Louis may have won himself a new legion of fans by behaving exactly like the four-year-old he is…
…while Kate had the sympathy and understanding of anyone who has spent time with four-year-olds 🙂
And I loved this moment when Louis took a turn sitting on Charles’s knee.
Prior to the concert, George and Charlotte accompanied their parents to Cardiff, Wales for an engagement honoring the Jubilee. While the children have certainly joined their parents for royal events (tours, holidays, Trooping, and the odd red carpet), and George has taken part in specific engagements, I think this may have been the first time Charlotte joined an actual working day.
Finally, on Sunday, William and Kate were spotted in North Kensington taking part in the Big Lunches going on throughout the city. Their attendance was akin to a surprise appearance from The Earl and Countess of Wessex who took time to greet people who had lined up to watch the festivities earlier in the weekend.
Last but not least, we got a good look at Princess Eugenie’s son, August Brooksbank, who joined his parents for Saturday’s concert.
So, in sum, I think this weekend was a huge success for the Royal Family. The British love pomp and circumstance and that’s exactly what the Palace gave them. Perhaps even more importantly, the narrative for the last two years has been of a family cold, competitive, and fractured, and the images the public received here were of a happy family who rallied together to celebrate the Queen and seemed to genuinely enjoy doing so.
And that, my friends, is the job.