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Britain Celebrates Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee


From left, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Louis, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George and Prince William gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace June 2, 2022. (Jonathan Brady/Pool Photo via AP)
Britain Celebrates Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee
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Britain is celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th year on the throne.

The four-day celebration, called Platinum Jubilee, began Thursday with a parade called Trooping the Color. The yearly military parade has marked the monarch’s official birthday since 1760. The queen appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with a small group of family members for a military flyover.

Thousands of people were on the parade route. Many carried British flags, party hats or plastic crowns.

“You’re never going to see this again in your lifetime,” one woman said. “At least not in mine, maybe not in my daughter’s. ... 70 years -- it is all I have ever known.”

The 96-year-old queen is Britain’s longest-serving monarch. She is the first to reach 70 years on the throne.

Members of the Household division take part in the Trooping the Colour parade at Horse Guards, in London, Thursday, June 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Members of the Household division take part in the Trooping the Colour parade at Horse Guards, in London, Thursday, June 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The celebration of Elizabeth's reign includes a service Friday at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. There will also be a concert at Buckingham Palace on Saturday and a performance put on by thousands of people from schools and community groups around the country on Sunday.

Thousands of street parties are planned around the country, a tradition that began with the queen’s coronation in 1953.

Several protesters were arrested Thursday after getting past barriers and onto the parade route. The group Animal Rebellion claimed responsibility, saying the protesters were “demanding that royal land is reclaimed.”

Royal fans sing the national anthem as they gather along the Mall leading to Buckingham Palace in London, Thursday June 2, 2022. (AP Photo/David Cliff)
Royal fans sing the national anthem as they gather along the Mall leading to Buckingham Palace in London, Thursday June 2, 2022. (AP Photo/David Cliff)

The jubilee is giving many British people a chance to think about the monarchy and the changes that have happened to the country since she took the throne. Fourteen prime ministers have taken office since Elizabeth became queen. Former Prime Minister John Major said her presence has helped provide direction for the country.

“The queen has represented our better selves for over 70 years," he told the BBC.

The Kings troop of the royal horse artillery ride down the Mall on their way to fire ceremonial gun in London, Thursday June 2, 2022. (Richard Pohle, Pool Photo via AP)
The Kings troop of the royal horse artillery ride down the Mall on their way to fire ceremonial gun in London, Thursday June 2, 2022. (Richard Pohle, Pool Photo via AP)

In a written jubilee message, the queen thanked people in Britain and across the Commonwealth involved in organizing the celebrations. The Commonwealth is a group of 54 nations, most of which are former territories of the British Empire. For many, the event is the first chance for a big party since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Other world leaders also sent their congratulations. French President Emmanuel Macron said the Queen is one of “very few constants” in the world. And former U.S. President Barack Obama added, “Your life has been a gift, not just to the United Kingdom but to the world.”

The Red Arrows during a flypast after the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London, Thursday June 2, 2022. (RAF SAC Sarah Barsby, Ministry of Defence via AP)
The Red Arrows during a flypast after the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London, Thursday June 2, 2022. (RAF SAC Sarah Barsby, Ministry of Defence via AP)

The long weekend's first event, Trooping the Color, refers to a battle flag, or “color.” The yearly tradition is a reenactment of the way battle flags were once shown to soldiers during fighting.

Each year a different unit in the army’s Household Division has the honor of trooping its color. The 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards has the spotlight during the Platinum Jubilee.

People pack the Mall as the British Royal family come onto the balcony of Buckingham Place after the Trooping the Color ceremony in London, Thursday, June 2, 2022. (Aaron Chown/Pool Photo via AP)
People pack the Mall as the British Royal family come onto the balcony of Buckingham Place after the Trooping the Color ceremony in London, Thursday, June 2, 2022. (Aaron Chown/Pool Photo via AP)

Riding on horseback, Prince Charles, representing the Queen, received the salute from the guards along with his sister, Princess Anne, and his son Prince William.

There is also some attention on those who will not be present.

Prince Andrew, the queen’s second son, settled a lawsuit in which he was accused of sexually abusing an underage woman. He is not expected to attend the celebration.

The Queen’s grandson Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan stepped down from royal duties. They watched the parade but were not present at the palace.

Opinion studies show Elizabeth remains very popular and respected among British people. One study showed eight in 10 people held a positive view of her. Another one found that three-quarters of British people thought she had done a good job as queen.

I’m Dan Novak.

Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by The Associated Press and Reuters.

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Words in This Story

jubilee n. a special anniversary

monarch n. a person such as a king or queen who rules a kingdom or empire

coronation — n. a ceremony in which a crown is placed on the head of a new king or queen

constant adj. happening all the time or very often over a period of time

reenactment n. to repeat the actions of

salute n. an act or ceremony that shows respect for someone

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