Monday, June 11, 2012

Diamond Jubilee Report

Then, coincidentally, Angela wrote from Wiltshire about her experience at the Jubilee:

I did go up to for the Jubilee. I did not go to the River Pageant as the weather forecast was for wet conditions, and I was glad, as it was extremely wet and everyone was soaked to the skin, very cold, and nobody saw very much. It seems almost certainly to have caused the Duke of Edinburgh's illness.

Being of a restless nature, however, I said to Val on the Sunday I am off to London to see the concert in the Mall. I got there at about 4pm and managed to find a nice spot in the crowd two thirds of the way down. Already there was a great atmosphere, large groups of families and friends. The Mall was closed to traffic and every one was picnicking on rugs or whatever in the road. Green Park was full of the Campers and had the biggest screen. There were screens all down the mall and two gigantic ones on either side of Buckingham Palace. The traffic roundabout at Victoria monument was filled with spectators and the concert stage was set high up around the monument. There were also huge screens in Trafalgar Square , Leicester Square and Hyde Park. London was really jumping. When Robbie Williams opened the concert I have never experienced anything like the roar that erupted from the Mall. It was a marvelous evening. The crowd was such fun. I caught my last train home all right and came back up the next day for the Royal Carriage procession and the balcony scene and that was lovely. This time I got right to the front by the railings around Buckingham Palace so I had an excellent view of the Balcony. All together an unforgettable experience. The following day I was totally exhausted but it was worth it.

The Royal Carriage procession is magnificent. The Queen travels in the open-topped State Landau coach so that the crowds can see her. It was built for King Edward V11 in 1902. The procession is a glorious spectacle of bands, bugles, gold brocade and breastplates of the thousand who accompany the Carriage. The Carriage was used last year for the royal wedding. Adding ceremonial grandeur to the procession was the Sovereign's Escort, provided by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. A magnificent sight in their breastplates and gold helmets with red plumes. The two Clydesdale drum horses, Mercury and Achilles led the way, trotting proudly as their riders controlled the golden reins with their feet to keep their hands free for the drumming.

The crowds in the Mall were held back from the road by barriers. Once the procession entered Buckingham Palace, the crowd started to agitate as they wanted to get the barriers taken down, so that they could get down the Mall to Buckingham Palace. The crowd control was absolutely amazing. No one knew whether it would be the top end of the Mall or the bottom end of the Mall, but some know it is never the middle part that comes down; but very gradually a section at a time was released, and when the Mall was, say, about half full with thousands of people, the row of policemen at the bottom near the statue started slowly advancing and allowing this massive crowd of a million plus to walk towards the Palace. It was scary, as it was a tightly packed crowd and there was quite a bit of pushing. Finally all the barriers were down and then all the crowds from around Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square were allowed to pour into the Mall. In addition to the Royals on the Balcony there was a big fly past of planes, a Lancaster bomber, four Spitfires, and a Hurricane and the Red Arrows. The estimated crowd was one and a half Million.

I myself only saw the Jubilee on TV: the service at St. Paul’s, the procession back to Buckingham Palace, and the scene on the Balcony.  There were clips from the night before; the fireworks at the end of the concert were thrilling.  I love to think of Angela’s being in that crowd.  Of course, I looked for her in the crowd at Buckingham Palace, too, but I didn’t see her.  Wouldn’t that have been fun?

I felt sad for Prince Philip that he couldn’t accompany the Queen on this wonderful occasion, and sad for her, too, walking alone down the aisle at St. Paul’s.  She suddenly looked so vulnerable, so human, so small.  But it was also my favorite moment: as she walked close behind the Mayor of London in a straight line down the middle of the aisle, she sort of suddenly veered off to the side momentarily and had to correct her course back to the middle.  I found it so touching. 

God Save the Queen.

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