The horse-loving Queen Elizabeth was thanked for serving 70 years “in the saddle” as head of state at a service to celebrate her platinum anniversary, an event she missed due to her “mobility issues”.
Other senior members of the royal family joined a congregation of politicians, charities and groups the Queen has supported for the National Service of Thanksgiving at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral to pay tribute to the sovereign’s record-breaking reign.
Four days of celebrations began on Thursday as a radiant Elizabeth waved to the crowd from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after a military parade and the Royal Air Force. She later led the lighting of the Principal Platinum Jubilee Beacon at her home in Windsor Castle near London.
The 96-year-old, who recently had to cancel a series of appointments due to an “episodic mobility problem”, reluctantly withdrew from Friday’s service after experiencing “some discomfort” the previous day, the palace said.
Elizabeth, who is a devout Christian and also the titular head of the Church of England, watched the televised service at Windsor Castle.
Her son and heir Prince Charles, 73, represented her, while much attention went to her grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who appeared in public together in Britain for the first time since resigning from their royal duties two years ago.
The Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, pointing to the Queen’s well-known love of horse racing, said in his sermon that her reign reflected the distance of the Grand National, the famously grueling steeplechase, rather than the Epsom Derby sprint.
“But with perseverance in times of change and challenge, joy and sorrow, you continue to offer yourself in the service of our country and the Commonwealth,” he said.
“Your Majesty, we’re sorry you’re not with us this morning, but we’re so glad you’re still in the saddle. And we’re glad there’s more to come. So thank you for following.”
Buckingham Palace later confirmed that the Queen would also miss Saturday’s 243rd Epsom Derby, which she normally attends and which, along with a pop concert outside Buckingham Palace, will be the centerpiece of the third day of the anniversary celebrations.
As with the service, she will be watching the Derby on television.
Also absent from Friday’s service was her second son, Prince Andrew, 62, who has tested positive for COVID-19.
That saved the royal family some awkwardness, shattering Andrew’s reputation after he settled a US lawsuit in February in which he was accused of sexually abusing a woman when she was a minor, he claims.
Speaking, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also met by a mixture of cheers and cheers from the crowd outside the cathedral, reflecting recent public anger at his behavior during his term in office.
Following the service, the Lord Mayor of the City of London hosted a reception in the medieval Guildhall attended by most of the senior royals, Johnson and his ministers.
Thursday marked not only the beginning of the Jubilee, but also the 69th anniversary of the coronation of Elizabeth, who became Queen after the death of her father George VI in February 1952 and is head of state of 14 other countries, including Australia, Canada and New York. . Zealand.
She has been on the throne longer than any of her predecessors in 1,000 years, and is the third-longest reigning monarch ever from a sovereign state. Opinion polls show that she remains hugely popular and respected among the British.