“The main thing is that the Queen is happy”

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“The main thing is that the Queen is happy”
The wax figure of Queen Elizabeth II at Madame Tussauds in London is getting the finishing touches. © Victoria Jones/dpa

Drums, pomp and “Union Jacks” around every corner: The United Kingdom is preparing to celebrate itself and its majesty in style. The country urgently needs a party mood.

A little rouge on the cheeks, the sparkling crown on the white locks adjusted and the Queen is ready for the “Jubilee” – at least her likeness in the wax museum Madame Tussauds is freshly prettied up in her place.

We can only speculate whether the real Queen Elizabeth II, who is now 96 years old, is already in the starting blocks for the party of the decade in her private rooms or is still gathering her strength. From Thursday (June 2nd) her kingdom wants to celebrate for four days that “Her Majesty” has been sitting on the throne for 70 years. Around Buckingham Palace – the official center of her reign – it’s already like a wasp’s nest.

Dozens of mobile toilets are being driven from A to B on trucks, helpers in neon-colored high-visibility clothing are busily running back and forth, and red, blue and white flags are even fluttering on construction site scaffolding. In St. James’ Park next door, huge power generators have been set up to provide the necessary power for the four-day spectacle. Two teenagers who don’t look like the typical monarchists pull their hoods over their heads and take a selfie in front of the oversized “Union Jacks”, the British flags that line the wide boulevard in front of the palace to the left and right.

Will the Queen show up?

Manuela Lassau has come from Germany with her children and is fascinated by how the “Mall”, over which thousands of soldiers are marching during “Trooping the Colour”, is transformed into a party mile. You can only really understand the importance as an adult when you realize how long the Queen has been at the head of the kingdom, she says. “But you’re starting to worry a bit that it’s going to end soon.”

Bangor University monarchy expert Craig Prescott believes that this is what makes the upcoming anniversary so special. Many people are aware that it will probably be the Queen’s last “jubilee”, possibly her “last great moment,” he says in an interview with the German Press Agency. That is why her health and the question of which events she will show herself at personally are very important to many people. There is definitely potential for disappointment.

Preparations for the Queen's 70th Jubilee
On the occasion of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, the square in front of Buckingham Palace resembles a large construction site. © Larissa Schwedes/dpa

Buckingham Palace’s new strategy is therefore: only announce shortly beforehand whether the Queen is coming or not, so as not to disappoint any expectations. But in this case, that might not help much. The traditional appearance on the balcony after the birthday parade and a service in St. Paul’s Cathedral are dates where the monarch is expected to be present.

Celebrate in times of crisis

The long-planned celebrations come at a time when Britain is fighting many battles at once. The British government has committed itself to playing a prominent role in the Western response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. At the same time, energy and food prices at home are skyrocketing, making many Britons question whether they should be freezing or starving. In a survey, almost 40 percent of the citizens surveyed stated that the monarchy was a luxury that the country could not actually afford. And then there is scandal Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who, in a recent investigative report on the “Partygate” affair, accuses him of leadership failure and serious misconduct in Downing Street.

Preparations for the Queen's 70th Jubilee
Numerous helpers are involved in the construction of Buckingham Palace before the jubilee and set up barriers. © Larissa Schwedes/dpa

“Having such a huge party at a difficult time can feel difficult,” admits pundit Prescott. On the other hand, the Queen’s anniversary can also be an occasion to come together and share joy. Britain doesn’t have traditional holidays like Thanksgiving in the US. “We depend on anniversaries like this to celebrate our big national moments.”

For these great moments, the organizers leave nothing to chance. Anyone who wants to get from A to B in central London has had to make detours for weeks. “Closed from May 3rd to mid-June” reads yellow signs at several streets and intersections. Marching music, drums and the clatter of horses’ hooves have been heard around the palace grounds for months. If everything has to be perfect, a lot of practice is necessary.

Curfew in pubs postponed

In the popular British pubs, record business is being sensed after the long pandemic lull: because the curfew in honor of the Queen is being pushed back generously during the celebrations, 90 million pints could be sold, the industry association Beer and Pub Association estimates.

Preparations for the Queen's 70th Jubilee
On the occasion of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, the square in front of Buckingham Palace resembles a large construction site. © Larissa Schwedes/dpa

While most Britons can look forward to an extra “Jubilee” holiday, for others the big celebration means above all: a lot of work. A security man has his hands full a week before the start, but takes it easy. “It’s fine,” he says while keeping an eye on the security barrier in front of the palace and directing a vehicle. “The main thing is that the Queen is happy.” (dpa)