Jun 06 2022. views 225
Britain enjoyed a four-day long weekend allowing her citizens to celebrate the Queen’s 70th anniversary on the throne. From the trooping of the colour and national service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral to a star-studded party in the Palace the festivities brought together the entire nation in appreciation of a service which has spanned three score years and ten. Hundreds of thousands of people poured into London from all corners of the United Kingdom, while countless others had travelled from across the world to be part of this once in a lifetime celebration.
The longest-reigning monarch in the UK, Queen Elizabeth ll was crowned as the Queen when she was 26 years old, just after the death of her father King George VI. During her 70 years of service, the Queen has become the most widely travelled monarch and has met more world leaders than any other.
Pledging a life of service to the nation and the Commonwealth, the Queen has kept to her word and despite mobility issues, continues to fulfil her duties aided by her son Prince Charles, her grandson Prince William and other working Royals.
Growing up in a family that admired the Queen for her sense of duty to her people, it was only natural to want to be a part of this historic occasion. Braving the elements, I decided to camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral from 11 pm on Thursday night to ensure a front-row view of the event. This would be the largest gathering of Royals at an event and having seen the entire family at the Queen Mother's 101st birthday where I had camped out before, it was my wish to attend this event to see Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and Megan the Duchess of Sussex.
A posse of diehard Royalists had already set up camp with their folding chairs and tents and were blissfully asleep when I got to St Paul’s. Selecting a good vantage point next to the tents to accommodate the media, my son who I had cajoled into coming played a long night of patience in the cold. The place was swarming with police who very kindly kept chatting to us helping us while away the time. At 2 am I was joined by Bee, another Royalist who had spent the previous day at the mall watching the Royals at the trooping the colour. A lawyer by profession who worked in a leading city bank we whiled away the time talking of common interests including the Royals.
By 6 am there was a constant stream of arrivals and as we had the best vantage point, a few freelance media photographers were trying to muscle in on our space. As taking photos was their livelihood, we shared some space with them and by the end of the day became friends with them.
By 8 am coaches began pulling up with retired and serving service personnel in their various uniforms. To give them their due no one does pomp and ceremony like the British.
By 10 am over four thousand people were lining the streets. The crowds were 10 to 12 people deep behind us.
The cathedral housed just over 2000 invitees at the service and included key workers, members of the community recognised for their various contributions, politicians and others. We were fortunate to witness 5 British Prime Ministers including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Theresa May, David Cameron and Boris Johnson.
I also met and spoke to Omid Scobie the author of Finding Freedom which caused controversy when published. Scobie, known to side with Prince Harry and Megan Markle was there to commentate for various TV channels. As a journalist, it was riveting to see how the BBC and Sky news conducted outside broadcasts.
Our correspondent with Omid Scobie
Despite hundreds of people behind us there was no pushing or jostling. The minor Royals including Princess Ann’s children, Peter Philips and Zara Tindall arrived with Lady Helen and her husband Tim Taylor along with Princess Margaret's daughter Sarah Chatoo and her family along with her brother Viscount Linley.
Boris Johnson was greeted with a loud chorus of booing. In order of seniority, the rest of the Royals arrived. The loudest cheers were saved for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. The service lasted just under an hour and at its conclusion, the Royals walked out into the warm sunshine waving and smiling at the crowds.
Was it worth standing for almost twelve hours to see the Royals? Yes! This is a once in a lifetime moment and what better way to celebrate the event than being there in person. My 95-year-old grandma thought I was mad as did my husband who questions the relevance of the Royals but the Queen has remained the strength and stay to many people around the world, she has been an example of stoicism and an exceptional leader. Therefore it really is a once in a lifetime experience to be a part of something to tell the grandchildren about!
Pics courtesy Charles Hoile