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Analysis: The symbolism behind the Queen’s jubilee surprise

It was always part of the plan for the Queen to appear, but with her mobility problems limiting things, her presence across the festivities had only been confirmed day-by-day. In this instance, we only received word about an hour beforehand.

Eagle-eyed pageant-goers on the Mall were tipped off that something was in the works just a few minutes later when the Royal Standard flag was raised above the palace — the signal the monarch was in residence.

It was a weekend of jubilation — a celebration of the 70 years of the Queen’s reign that touched upon her many challenges, her worldwide responsibilities as leader of the Commonwealth, and even her personal interests.

Sunday's pageant featured a carnival procession along the Mall including giant puppets and celebrities that helped depicted key moments from the Queen's seven decades on the throne.
Few would have expected the 96-year-old to turn up to every event but her absence after Thursday’s opening action had many missing the monarch and once again raised concerns for her health.

This weekend saw Charles handle the responsibility of representing the monarch on several occasions, including at Sunday’s pageant where he took a salute from the soldiers and officers at the top of the procession as it passed by.

We’re going to see the Prince of Wales step up more in future — something even the Queen alluded to in her message of thanks, released on Sunday evening.

“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,” she said.

Aware of the optics surrounding her unprecedented Platinum Jubilee, the Queen made sure to give the public a look at the future of the monarchy by opting to have Britain’s next three Kings — Princes Charles, William and George — standing alongside her on the balcony.

Prince Charles stands next to the Queen as she waves to crowds on the final day of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations on Sunday.

A vision of the monarchy’s future had already been playing out at some of the jubilee events through the inclusion of the younger royals — namely the Cambridge children, who appeared front and center of the royal box both at the concert on Saturday night and the pageant a day later.

A lifetime of service before them, this weekend demonstrated to the children what the royal role entails and the spotlight they will share for years to come, while offering the public a rare glimpse of a less formal side of the royal family dynamic.

The Queen also said she had been “humbled” by the celebrations. One of her greatest strengths over the past seven decades has been her ability to unite people, and through her jubilee celebrations she had wanted to do that once more. The Queen added that she hoped “this renewed sense of togetherness will be felt for many years to come.” Her message here also spoke to the division and turmoil that society — and her family — has faced in recent years.

Members of the royal family at the jubilee concert on Saturday night.

Emily Nash, CNN royal contributor and royal editor for Hello! magazine, said the jubilee also offered the family a chance to reset after a tumultuous period.

“This is Brand Royal par excellence. They’re out there, looking fantastic, looking happy and glorious just as you’d expect from the postcards. And really after a terrible couple of years, this is an exercise in rebranding to an extent. It is about reminding people what the royal family does best and presenting the idealized version of them that the people around the world know and love.”

Not everyone in the UK was swept up by the jubilee celebrations. As crowds flocked to the capital, some young Britons were actively avoiding the festivities, saying they had no faith in the Crown and it was not representative of modern Britain. Whether they were swayed by the events of recent days remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, the celebrations captured the hearts and minds of many in the country and around the world. An estimated one billion people watched the “People’s Pageant” on Sunday. For a Queen in the twilight of her reign, it must have given her a great sense of optimism to see thousands swarming the Mall and hope that the monarchy is modernizing enough to turn a corner.


Corgis, cannons and Paddington Bear. The past few days have been fabulously fun, as thousands gathered for the jubilee celebrations, including a star-studded concert at Buckingham Palace, a gloriously eccentric pageant and a military parade to mark the Queen’s birthday. Check out some of the highlights from the bumper weekend below.


From CNN’s Sana Noor Haq

The sky was swathed in gray cloud on Sunday afternoon in London, but the drizzly weather didn’t stop well-wishers lining the streets of the capital to watch the Platinum Jubilee pageant. While some parade-goers draped themselves with huge Union Jack flags, others sported gold paper crowns and red, white and blue bowler hats.

The pageant celebrated the best of the UK’s cultural evolution during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, with performance artists and famous faces coming together for a carnival of creativity and color. About 10,000 people were involved in staging the event, including more than 6,000 volunteers, dancers, singers and key workers, and 2,500 members of the public, according to organizers.

John Burleigh, a 69-year-old retired school teacher from Greenock, southwestern Scotland, who traveled from Cambridge, southeastern England to watch the pageant, told CNN being here “means everything.”

“It’s part of history, it’s nice to see London filled with people after Covid,” Burleigh said. “This is a momentous occasion, and I’m glad I made the effort.”

The Bolton sisters -- George, Jack and Jo -- sport Burger King crowns. "We are royal fans and excited about the parade," George said. "It's very important to be here. She's been the Queen my whole life."

Spectators crammed into the Mall were craning their necks to try to catch a glimpse of the procession, which echoed the journey made by the Queen 70 years previously for her own coronation. Starting off in Whitehall, it snaked through Admiralty Arch and up the Mall toward Buckingham Palace.

After migrating from the Philippines two years ago, Schanelle Pampolino settled in Stanmore, northwest London, where she works as an NHS nurse. She said this is her family’s first time attending a jubilee event.

“This is quite exciting for us, because it’s a new experience really,” 36-year-old Pampolino told CNN. “Hopefully we’ll see (the) parade and some new things that we don’t know about the UK, (as) we’re fresh from the Philippines.”

Meanwhile, Cerys Jones, a 43-year-old high school teacher from Chippenham, southwestern England, said: “It’s a historic day, it’s never going to happen again so it’s important to be here.”

She attended the parade with her husband, Philip, a 52-year-old cadet force instructor, and their two children, 10-year-old William and 6-year-old Matthew. “Governments come and go, but the Queen has always been here,” Philip said. “It’s a milestone. She’s likely to be the reigning monarch for almost everyone here on the Mall.”

A screen in front of Buckingham Palace shows the Queen's balcony appearance on Sunday.
The pageant was led by the ornate 260-year-old Gold State Coach, and featured energetic dance numbers from street art performers, and intricately choreographed routines reminiscent of the Notting Hill Carnival and traditional Punjabi Bhangra, showcasing the UK’s multicultural communities.

Satvinder Cubb is a volunteer in her 40s. She said she traveled from Chingford, east London, to show her gratitude for the Queen’s service.

“It’s worth getting up early and making the effort to say thank you,” Cubb told CNN. “She’s been wonderful for the nation. Whatever the circumstances, she’s always smiling and glowing and looking really well.”

A bevy of British celebrities also waved to the crowd while sitting atop festooned double-decker buses, including supermodels Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, former star footballer and current TV pundit Gary Lineker, and four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah.

But it was the day’s climax that royal fans will talk about for years to come — the Queen’s appearance, which prompted shrieks of excitement from the crowd.

“It was a historic moment. It was surreal,” Amy Chan, a 45-year-old consultant from south London, said. “It’s great to be part of history.”


When the UK celebrates as a nation, tradition reigns. Red, blue and white adorn the cities and revelers take over roads with long tables for the traditional street party. Here, CNN’s Max Burnell breaks down the etiquette and history of these quintessentially British gatherings, which have been around for more than a century. (Video produced by CNN’s Nina Avramova and Sofia Couceiro with Emma Beinish)


With the packed schedule of weekend events, royal-watchers were presented with a masterclass in royal style.

Throughout the four-day extravaganza, members of the royal family were seen dressed in soft color palettes, structured silhouettes and, of course, elaborate fascinators.

The Queen herself wore some of the jubilee’s most memorable looks, including a pearl-embellished ice-blue ensemble on Thursday and a vibrant green double-crepe wool dress and coat on Sunday.

An intricate pearl lace trim and icy blue hue elevated one of Queen Elizabeth's go-to silhouettes: a long formal coat (pinned with a diamond brooch).
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge wore a buttery yellow ensemble, with a tea-length dress paired with a twisted waist detail and pearl drop earrings.
Princess Anne's daughter Zara Tindall and Lady Frederick Windsor looked giddy in pink dresses and ornate fascinators.


Well, he did it again — Prince Louis stole the show on Sunday.

He joined his family in the royal box to watch the pageant but proving that he’s just like any other 4-year-old with a short attention span, cameras caught him acting up with his mom. Take a look:


From CNN Production Manager James Frater

When CNN covers major events like the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, it’s usually the culmination of months of preparation and takes a village to pull off. On this occasion, our planning began just over 12 months ago, as there are many security, logistical and ceremonial challenges to overcome when broadcasting in front of one of the most famous buildings in the world.

Max speaks during a live hit as the Queen and her family step onto the Buckingham Palace balcony on Sunday.

CNN and many international broadcasters set up home on an area just to the side of the palace called the West Lawn. If you’re trying to picture it, it’s exactly what the name suggests … a lawn — meaning everything TV organizations needed to cover the event had to be specially brought in and built. This included: hundreds of tons of scaffolding, 10s of kilometers of cabling, generators, toilets, mobile offices and catering.

Most vehicles, equipment and the installation work had to be done overnight or in the early hours to avoid disrupting the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony, which attracts thousands of spectators, as well the military rehearsals for Trooping the Colour and the Buckingham Palace summer garden parties.

CNN’s studio was on the second level of a 66-foot-high platform and took a team of six engineers and six photojournalists just over a week to fully kit out and test.

The mammoth platform erected on the West Lawn to house international broadcasters.

Each day of the jubilee, CNN was on air from 5 a.m. local time through to 11 p.m., with a small core group of six supporting all the different teams of correspondents, producers, photographers and camera operators.

And then before you know it, the event is over and it’s time to pack up. And, let me tell you, pulling everything down is always quicker than building it.

De-rig planning and preparations started as soon as the flypast on the first day of the jubilee ended. This meant that by the time CNN finished its last live shot on Sunday following the Queen’s balcony appearance everything was packed up and ready to be driven out the instant police re-opened the roads.

CNN's base of operations on the West Lawn during the four-day celebrations.

The scaffolding will be taken down within the next few days, and once everything is off site, broadcasters will re-turf the West Lawn so the public can again enjoy the views of the palace that made such a perfect backdrop over the jubilee weekend.

“You have met us and talked with us. You laugh and cry with us and, most importantly, you have been there for us, for these 70 years. You pledged to serve your whole life — you continue to deliver. That is why we are here.”

Prince Charles

The heir to the throne gave a touching speech in tribute to his “mummy” at Saturday’s jubilee concert, praising her steadfast service to the country and Commonwealth. Watch his full speech here.

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