seventy years of reign and a quiet transition

To analyse. “Platinum Jubilee” fever has gripped London. Preparations are everywhere, the streets are decked in Union Jacks, the British are preparing for thousands of street parties (“street parties”), during a long weekend of festivities, from June 2 to 5. The United Kingdom will celebrate the seventy years of reign of Elizabeth II, its queen with exceptional longevity and endurance. A solemn mass is also planned in Saint Paul’s Cathedral, a giant parade retracing the life of the sovereign on the Mall (the avenue leading to Buckingham Palace) and a concert in the palace grounds.

The queen, 96 years old, will she be present at these events? Royalty experts are lost in conjecture, but have taken their side: since the death, on April 9, 2021, of her husband, Prince Philip, the health of the sovereign has deteriorated. She has mobility issues, says Buckingham Palace, and has difficulty getting around without a cane. In the fall, his doctors advised him to rest for three months, after a brief stay in hospital, and since then many of his public appearances have had to be cancelled. “You just have to get used to it, it has good days, and bad days”notes the British journalist Robert Jobson, who has followed the royal family for more than twenty years.

Impasse on the Queen’s Speech

The Queen made an appearance at the Royal Horse Show in Windsor in mid-May – a keen horse lover, she rarely misses the racing season. It also inaugurated, on May 17, the new Elizabeth Line, the new London “RER”, in service since May 24. On the other hand, she was replaced by her son Charles, the Prince of Wales, for the Queen’s Speech (the “Queen’s speech”), on May 10, in the House of Lords, marking the start of a new season. legislation of the British Parliament.

Read also: Queen Elizabeth II misses the Speech from the Throne for the first time in almost sixty years

It was only the third time that she had missed this appointment, probably the most important of her constitutional role as head of state. The previous two took place in 1959 and 1963, when the Queen was pregnant with Prince Andrew, then Prince Edward. “A Queen’s Speech without the Queen”, noted British media, emphasizing the significance of his absence. However, the popularity of Elizabeth II is such that her end of reign and the question of the accession to the throne of her eldest son, Charles, 73, are approached with caution and great modesty.

His great age, his physical fragility are obviously underlined, but to better emphasize his intact intellectual vivacity. On this sensitive subject of the end of the “second Elizabethan era” (Elizabeth I reigned from 1558 to 1603), experts prefer to speak of “transition”, stressing that it is rather under control. “We are experiencing a monarchy in transition, with Prince Charles as chief executive [de la famille royale], and in support of the Cambridge [le prince William et son épouse Kate] and the Wessexes [le prince Edward et son épouse Sophie], ensuring more and more public engagements, in particular official trips abroad”, emphasizes Robert Jobson. Kate and William toured the Caribbean in March, Edward and Sophie followed in April, Charles and Camilla have just returned from Canada.

You have 46.77% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here