Puppets, performers, parades for queen's 70-year reign

By: AFP      Published: 10:19 PM, 29 Jun, 2021
Puppets, performers, parades for queen's 70-year reign

Giant marionettes, fantastical beasts and circus performers will form the centrepiece of celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth II's 70 years on the throne, organisers said on Tuesday.

A Platinum Jubilee pageant is due to take place on June 5 next year, as part of four days of celebrations that also includes a military parade and church thanksgiving service.

Co-chairman of the organising committee Nicholas Coleridge said he expects the event to be a "glorious celebration" of the monarch's service to the country and the Commonwealth.

The British government has already announced a four-day public holiday weekend to mark the reign of Britain's longest-serving monarch, who turned 95 earlier this year.

And post-Covid, Coleridge said it would be "an opportunity for the country to emerge united, re-energised and renewed" after the hardships of the global coronavirus pandemic.

"It will be a reopening for the UK, a moment of national purpose to be fun, joyous and entertaining."

The Sunday pageant has been designed to tell the story of "the second Elizabethan age", 500 years after the first which was noted for Shakespeare and the discovery of new worlds.

Co-chairman Michael Lockett said it would recount "a time of rapid change and unparalleled progress" since the young princess Elizabeth became queen in 1952.

Unlike the sparsely populated streets of lockdown, when the queen herself was forced to self-isolate at her Windsor Castle home, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to join the festivities.

Performances will take in the post-war austerity of the 1950s and the Swinging Sixties of rock and roll and space discovery, then the choice to join Europe in the 1970s.

It will also include the "Big Bang" digitisation of the City of London financial centre in the 1980s, and technological changes of the 1990s to the present day and look to the future, particularly the need to tackle climate change.

Moment in history

"Her Majesty has been our strength and our guardian in good times and sometimes in bad times, across generations, communities and nations," said Lockett. 

Pageant master Adrian Evans told reporters the "explosion of extraordinary theatre, dance, music, carnival and street art" would be a "moment in history".

As well as "monumental heraldic figures" reflecting royal history over 1,000 years, the parade will include a "hatch dragon" bigger than a double-decker bus.

Another puppet, with a horse powered by 30 cyclists, will mark the "most joyous moments" of the queen's marriage to Prince Philip, who died in April aged 99, Evans said.

Ponies, racehorses, and corgis -- the queen's favourite breed of dog -- will represent "humour and distinctive British quirkiness", and her lifelong love of animals.

The event will be privately financed by individual and corporate donors and is expected to cost between £10 million and £15 million, which Coleridge said was in line with previous jubilees going back to queen Victoria.

The queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 was marked by a river procession of 1,000 boats on the River Thames -- the largest flotilla in 350 years.

Beacons were also lit across the country and a pop concert held featuring acts such as Take That's Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue, Elton John and Ed Sheeran.

Her Golden Jubilee 10 years earlier also saw a four-day-long weekend with street parties and another pop concert. The queen also toured Britain, Jamaica, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.