Queen’s health questioned across UK on eve of Jubilee
On Thursday, she opted to visit her horses privately rather than attend the first day of the Royal Windsor Horse Show. She was expected to make the short drive from Windsor Castle to the fairgrounds to watch her horse, First Receiver, compete in a series of thoroughbred qualifiers.
The show is one of the Queen’s favorite events of the year. She has attended every year since it began as a wartime fundraising event in 1943.
And then on Friday, she made a surprise appearance in the front seat of a Range Rover near the arena and later, using a cane, in the stands. She was cheered by onlookers when they noticed her presence.
She is now expected to be seen at just two of the events marking her 70 years on the throne next month: the Trooping of the Colour, for the famous family portrait on the palace balcony, and the thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. If she attends the Derby at Epsom it will likely be in an unofficial capacity, sitting in the royal box without the pomp and ceremony of arriving in a horse-drawn carriage down the famous straight.
She will attend a tribute concert and a “popular show” in the comfort of her living room. At 81, Sir Cliff Richard will star in the fourth jubilee of his long career, driving an open-top double-decker bus through the streets of London.
He will be joined by celebrities such as Oscar winner Jeremy Irons and England football hero Gary Lineker and a parade featuring TV character Basil Brush and a moving corgi puppet pack.
Ed Sheeran will deliver the grand musical finale in front of Buckingham Palace. A noted follower of classic show tunes, as well as the music of his wartime youth, the Queen’s favorite artist is Duke Ellington. She can’t stand up for Ed.
Robert Jobson, London’s veteran royal commentator evening standardsays that during the lifetimes of the majority of her subjects, the Queen’s assured and measured tones at Christmas and state occasions “gave us all confidence”.
“At 96, it’s surely time for us to be there for her,” he says. “She shouldn’t have to continually wait to issue statements about ‘will she, won’t she’ at a particular event. That’s neither fair nor proper.”
Jobson says as planners in London prepare for Jubilee celebrations, the Royal Family and the British government should use this time to get things done. The Queen has already announced her wish for Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to be queen consort when Charles becomes king, he says. And she also urged Commonwealth leaders to support Charles as the next leader when the time comes.
“She will remain our queen, but she should not be expected to continue to meet the demanding physical and mental demands of a constitutional head of state,” he said.
“Charles, at 73, is the most prepared in-waiting monarch ever. He is a man of vision. He is, like his mother, dedicated and dedicated.
“At 96, the Queen should be free to relax and spend time doing exactly what she wants. She deserves the chance to step down while retaining her crown and letting Charles take the reins in the twilight of his illustrious reign. The end of his Jubilee celebrations might be a good time to do so.
One of her closest confidantes, her longtime dressmaker Angela Kelly, has in recent weeks revealed the Queen’s struggle with grief following the death of her husband Prince Philip last year.
Kelly recalled in an updated version of her memoir how the monarch chose to be left alone the day after her husband’s funeral.
“I helped her with her coat and hat and no words were said,” she said.
“The Queen then walked into her living room, closed the door behind her and was left alone with her own thoughts.”
We shouldn’t be surprised. By the time Queen Victoria reached her Diamond Jubilee in 1897, she too had mobility issues. In her case, arthritic hips rendered her virtually immobile at the age of 78.
For this year’s events, the Queen will not be using the Golden State Coach as it leads the Platinum Jubilee Procession and will instead drive to the Thanksgiving Service at St Paul’s, arriving at an easier entrance than the great west gate.
Joe Little, editor of Majesty Magazinesays the Queen’s increasingly rare appearances had a “tremendous inevitability” about them given her age.
He said Charles’s delivery of the Queen’s Speech this week was “another part of his training”, although a duty he probably did not want to perform given the circumstances.
“And that’s the future as I really see it,” Little says. “That we won’t see her but once in a while we might.”
Get a grade directly from our foreigner correspondents on what’s making headlines around the world. Sign up for the weekly What in the World newsletter here.