Albert and Ivan, two English draft horses trot through the streets of Windsor, pulling a trailer loaded with beer. With one month to go until Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, pubs are stocking up before the expected arrival of hordes of visitors.
The two horses in black coats and bushy white baleen stop to unload kegs of beer from Windsor & Eton. This local brewery has created a drink this year to mark the 70th anniversary of Elizabeth II’s reign.
“We call it Castle Hill because when the Queen came to the throne it was announced on Castle Hill in Windsor”explains Will Calvert, director of the brewery where the sweet smell of malted barley mixed with hot water reigns.
Brewed with barley from the royal farm, and English and New Zealand hops, at both ends of the Commonwealth, Castle Hill is “a very good refreshing beer to drink outside in the summer for the Jubilee”boasts Mr. Calvert whose brewery benefits from the precious “royal warrant” and supplies the royal family.
These 70 years of reign, a record for a British monarch, will be celebrated with four days of festivities throughout the United Kingdom from June 2 to 5, with street parties, concerts and parades. For this occasion, the British benefit from an additional public holiday and the pubs have the right to remain open later.
In Windsor, west of London, a parade of cars, fireworks and a giant picnic in the castle grounds are on the program. The streets of the town center are decorated with British flags and banners announcing the festivities.
“I think we are going to be very busy, especially if the sun is shining, everyone is going to come to Windsor. We expect to have a lot of tourists and locals.”anticipates Denisa Hucinova, 35, manager of the Boatman, a pub on the banks of the Thames. “We’re looking forward to this. It’s a big celebration. 70 years is amazing, isn’t it?”
For the pubs and many shops in the city, these four days of celebrations are blessed bread after years of lean cows.
“The Covid years have been difficult for our business as they have been for anyone in the hospitality industry in the UK and around the world,” acknowledges Mr. Calvert, noting that “Opportunities like this are good for us.”
The tourists have returned but the money is coming in less than before, deplores Muthucumara Samy Kesavan, manager of the “House of gifts” souvenir shop, ideally located a few meters from the castle.
“Since the pandemic business is picking up slightly, but not yet at a normal level, it’s still very quiet,” he confides, hoping that it will improve with the Jubilee. “I really hope it brings us more people and more customers.”
In her store, the queen’s face adorns tea towels, cloth bags, t-shirts and even cups. The mugs to the glory of his grandson Harry who married Meghan Markle in Windsor in 2018 are on sale: the couple have been shunned by customers since they walked out of the royal family, settling in the States -United.
Of all the royals, no one beats the 96-year-old monarch topping both popularity polls and boutique sales, and Mr Kesavan is grateful for that. “I love her so much”testifies the trader who says to have seen it “several times”.
In the twilight of her reign, Elizabeth II remains adored by her subjects, despite the scandals marring her family, such as that caused by her son Andrew’s links with the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Among the admirers of the royal family, Sandra Pinder, 61, who regularly takes her granddaughter to see the changing of the guard in front of Windsor Castle.
This Brit finds Elizabeth II “wonderful”, quoting his “commitment” for his subjects and “all the tours she did to promote the country”. “We all love the Queen in the family”, proclaims Mrs Pinder, adding that after 70 years of rule “she has proven herself.”