AP

UK to hold days-long bash to celebrate queen’s 70-year reign

May 28, 2022, 11:34 AM | Updated: 11:41 pm

FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II smiles while receiving the President of Switzerland Ignazio Cas...

FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II smiles while receiving the President of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis and his wife Paola Cassis during an audience at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, Thursday, April 28, 2022. 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. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool Photo via AP, File)

(Dominic Lipinski/Pool Photo via AP, File)


              FILE - A workmen carries a refurbished ornamental crown to be put atop a flag pole near Buckingham Palace as preparations take place to celebrate Britain's Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee in London, Thursday, April 28, 2022. 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. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)
            
              FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sitting in a buggy visits the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Chelsea Flower Show, at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, in London, Monday May 23, 2022. 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. (Dan Kitwood/Pool via AP, File)
            
              Members of the Mahogany carnival group take part in a rehearsal for their upcoming performance at the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, at Queens Park Community School, in north London, Saturday, May 28, 2022. 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. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
            
              FILE - In swan outfits Courteney Gaskin and Katie Jones carry swan costumes, part of 'The Queen's Favourites' for the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, in Coventry, England, Thursday, May 5, 2022.Queen Elizabeth II is a national fixture in Britain, a slightly stooped, aging woman with a cane and a handbag who dutifully appears at events large and small to celebrate the country’s victories and comfort it during times of tragedy. But 70 years ago she was the glamorous young princess who led Britain out of the dreary post-war years and into the space age. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
            
              FILE - A group of corgi puppets made by puppet maker Louise Jones each one an individual and based on past and present Royal corgis, part of 'The Queen's Favourites' for the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, in Coventry, England, Thursday, May 5, 2022. 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. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
            
              FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, looks through a window at the view as she walks through The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey in London, Friday, June 8, 2018. 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. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, Pool, FIle)
            
              FILE - Souvenir items for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee are displayed for sale in the front window of the Cool Britannia store near Buckingham Palace, in London, Thursday, May 26, 2022. 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. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
            
              FILE - Jemma Melvin's winning Platinum Jubilee Pudding creation are served at a department store in London, Friday, May 13, 2022. Jemma was chosen from over 5000, entries. 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. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)
            
              FILE - Rob Munday, creator of the first officially commissioned 3D/holographic portrait of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in 2004, unveils a previously unseen portrait of the monarch to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee, in London, Wednesday, May 4, 2022. 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. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
            
              FILE - A cake to celebrate the start of Britain's Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee, at a reception she held for representatives from local community groups to commemorate her 70th years on the throne at Sandringham, England, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. 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.  (Joe Giddens/Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - A display paying homage to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II outside the Sloane Club and Sloane Place, in London, as part of "Chelsea in Bloom" an alternative floral art show which runs alongside the RHS  Chelsea Flower Show, in streets and venues nearby, Monday, May 23, 2022. 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.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
            
              FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II receives a posy from Harriet Reeve, 9, during a reception to celebrate the start of the Platinum Jubilee, at Sandringham House, her Norfolk residence, in Sandringham, England, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. 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. (Joe Giddens/Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Members of the King's Troop Royal Artillery fire a Royal Salute of 42 guns in Hyde Park to celebrate Britain's Queen Elizabeth II's 96th birthday in Hyde Park, London, Thursday, April 21, 2022. 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.  (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)
            
              FILE - From left, Britain's Prince Charles, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William stand on the balcony at Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in central London Tuesday June 5, 2012. 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.  (AP Photo/Stefan Wermuth, Pool, File)
            
              FIle - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II watches the red arrows fly over to mark her official birthday at Windsor Castle, Windsor, England, Saturday June 12, 2021. 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. (Chris Jackson/Pool via AP, File)
            
              Members of the Mahogany carnival group take part in a rehearsal for their upcoming performance at the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, at Queens Park Community School, in north London, Saturday, May 28, 2022. 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. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
            
              FILE - Union flags are displayed above the south hall of the Covent Garden district of London, to mark the upcoming Platinum Jubilee of the 70 year reign of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, Friday, May 20, 2022.  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.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
            
              FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II views a display of artefacts to commemorate the 70th anniversary of British craftwork company, Halcyon Days, in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, Windsor, England, Wednesday March 23, 2022. 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. (Steve Parsons/Pool via AP)
            
              Britain Historian Robert Lacey speaks to The Associated Press at his London home, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. 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. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
            
              FILE -  The Archbishop of Canterbury holds the ritual crown of England, the crown of St. Edward, over the head of Queen Elizabeth II, prior to the actual crowning at the coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey, London, June 2, 1953. 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.  (AP Photo/File)
            
              FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II smiles while receiving the President of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis and his wife Paola Cassis during an audience at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, Thursday, April 28, 2022. 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. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool Photo via AP, File)

LONDON (AP) — 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 Palac e lies a drive to show that the royal family still remains relevant after seven decades of change.

“The monarchy is not elected, so the only way in which a monarch can demonstrate consent is not through the ballot box, but through people turning out on the streets,” said Robert Lacey, the historical adviser on “The Crown´´ series. “And if the monarch turns up on the balcony and waves and there’s no one there, that’s a pretty definitive judgment on the monarchy.

“Well, when it comes to Elizabeth, the opposite has been the case. People can’t wait to mass and cheer together,” he added.

And the royals, sometimes criticized 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.

The jubilee is an opportunity for the royals to demonstrate their commitment to change and diversity, something the queen has embodied as she traveled the world over the last 70 years, said Emily Nash, royal editor of HELLO! magazine.

“She’s been everywhere and she has engaged with people from all walks of life, from all creeds and colors and faiths,” Nash said. “I think it’s easy to see, in the sort of pomp and pageantry, perhaps more of a lack of diversity. But if you look at what the royal family actually do, the people they engage with, the places they go to, I think it’s perhaps a little unfair to say that it’s not as diverse as it could be.”

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.

And it’s not just foreign tourists who are buying all things Elizabeth. Visitors from around the U.K. are also hunting for jubilee mementos, said Ismayil Ibrahim, the man behind the counter.

“It’s a very special year,” he said. “They’re celebrating it as a big event.”

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 Feb. 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 honors on deserving citizens.

Susan Duddridge feels that connection. The administrator from Somerset will dance in the Platinum Jubilee pageant, 69 years after her father marched in the queen’s coronation parade.

“I think it’s amazing that the country always comes together when there’s a wedding, a royal jubilee, whatever the royals are involved in,” she said. “We love the queen!”

The past two years have highlighted t he monarchy’s strengths as the queen alternately consoled a nation isolated by COVID-19 and thanked doctors and nurses battling the disease.

But its frailties were also on display as the 96-year-old monarch buried her husband and was slowed by health problems that forced her to turn over important public duties to Charles. That came amid the all-too-public tensions with Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, who made allegations of racism and bullying in the royal household, and the sordid allegations about P rince Andrew’s links to the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Against this backdrop, the jubilee is also part of the effort to prepare the public for the day when Charles takes the throne. Now 73, Charles has spent much of his life preparing to be king and battling a somewhat stuffy image that wasn’t helped by his ugly divorce from the still-adored Princess Diana.

Charles reportedly may play a key role during the first event of the jubilee weekend, taking the salute of passing soldiers during the annual military review known as Trooping the Colour. The queen will attend the more than 400-year-old ceremony that marks her official birthday if she feels ok, but will decide on the day.

Elizabeth, who only recently recovered from COVID-19 and has begun using a walking stick, has given Charles an increasingly important role as the public face of the monarchy. Earlier this month, he stood in for his mother when what the palace describes as “episodic mobility problems” prevented her from presiding over the state opening of Parliament.

Still, in the days afterward, she t urned up at a horse show, opened a subway line and toured the Chelsea Flower Show in a chauffeur-driven royal buggy — a sort of luxurious golf cart.

“There is no blueprint for a reign of this length and, subsequently, I think the palace and courtiers are having to improvise all the time,” said Ed Owens, a royal historian and author of “The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public 1932-1953.”

“In the case of Elizabeth II, we haven’t had a monarch this elderly who has reigned for so long and is so meaningful to so many people having to essentially transfer her role to the next in line.”

But don’t expect the queen to leave the scene any time soon.

Robert Hardman, biographer and author of “Queen of Our Times: The Life of Elizabeth II” said he expects to see an even bigger party four years from now when Elizabeth turns 100.

“A 100th birthday raises the intriguing prospect: Will she send a card to herself?” Hardman mused, referencing the queen’s tradition of sending a personal birthday card to anyone who reaches that milestone. “I’m looking forward to that debate in 2026.”

___

Follow all AP stories about Britain’s royal family at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii.

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