Inside Queen Elizabeth’s Plan to Save Her Own Platinum Jubilee – The Daily Beast

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Not long ago, the Platinum Jubilee was in grave danger of turning into the dampest of squibs. Queen Elizabeth, who has always joked she needed to be seen to be believed, had been seen in person in public only once that entire year, wincing in pain as she walked to her seat on her disgraced son’s arm at her husband’s memorial in late March.

Other than that, she appeared unable or unwilling to make even the briefest of public in-person appearances, making do with unconvincingly jolly Zoom calls and cancelling her diary by the swathe.

Insiders were quietly briefing reporters that the public shouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t make an appearance in person at the Platinum Jubilee at all, despite the fact that its whole purpose was to celebrate her reign. There were even some treacherous suggestions that instead of celebrating her life, the British nation might instead be spending the first weekend of June marking her death.

What difference a few weeks make.

On May 14, a beaming monarch attended the Windsor Horse Show, the first official event of the Jubilee, attended by all her great grandchildren except Archie and Lilibet, who could hardly be expected to attend as they live in California. On 16 May, walking unaided, she opened the new Elizabeth cross-London railway line. On 23 May, the queen gave a show-stopping appearance at the Chelsea Flower Show, riding aboard her new luxury golf cart.

Now, The Daily Beast can exclusively reveal that senior aides are “cautiously optimistic” that the queen will attend at least two of the four key events that will mark each of the four days of the Jubilee celebrations next weekend.

It’s a remarkable turnaround, and likely to banish talk of the queen abdicating after the Jubilee. There is a hopeful mood at Buckingham Palace that the queen will pull off a spectacular comeback for her Platinum Jubilee, making a number of in-person appearances at key events. Her key targets for attendance are the Trooping of the Color on Thursday, June 2, and the Service of Thanksgiving for her reign at St Paul’s on Friday, June 3.

Next on her list is the culminating event of the four-day weekend, a procession through central London on Sunday, June 5, led by the Gold State Carriage, the grandest of royal conveyances.

The change in mood music at her office represents a dramatic shift in tone, less than one week out from the official beginning of the four days of royal celebrations.

Queen Elizabeth II uses an Oyster Card ticket machine during her visit to Paddington Station in London on May 17.

Andrew Matthews/Pool/AFP via Getty

As recently as a month ago the mood at the palace was one of gloom and despond, and the queen’s core team, led by her private secretary Sir Edward Young, were quietly managing expectations by suggesting that the queen might not make any events in-person at all.

There were very real, if largely unspoken, fears among some insiders that the queen could actually die, and it was widely known that the queen continued to suffer severe ill-effects weeks after her bout with COVID, which she contracted in February this year.

Indeed, the queen herself said as much on 11 April, in a video chat which was, not accidentally, released by Buckingham Palace. Speaking of her infection, she told a group of nurses, “It does leave one very tired and exhausted, doesn’t it?” adding, “It obviously was a very frightening experience to have COVID very badly.”

This was a big shift from the previous palace line, which was that she only had a very mild case of the disease and had continued “light duties” throughout.

Further evidence that her experience of COVID was worse than originally was let on came, however, when, afterwards, the queen completely absented herself from any in-person public appearances, including Easter church services, and the State Opening of Parliament.

At the one event she did attend, her late husband’s memorial, she was seen wincing with pain after being escorted to her seat by her disgraced son Prince Andrew.

Another carefully curated video was released which showed the queen wincing and pointing to her foot, telling visitors, “I can’t move.”

The palace has since blamed all her no-shows at various events on what it calls “episodic mobility problems.”

While sources say that those issues have not gone away, and emphasize that officially absolutely nothing is being confirmed until day-of, the overall suggestion is that the 96-year-old monarch is simply, well, feeling better.

Royal aides are understood to have been delighted by her series of appearances in recent weeks, including at an equestrian event and a new railway line opening. But the most symbolic turning point was provided by her showstopping attendance at the Chelsea Flower Show this week.

“The queen seemed very bubbly and happy,” one garden designer told The Daily Beast. “She came past our garden in her very slow buggy and we could hear her chatting. She seemed animated and happy to be there.”

Courtiers are now allowing themselves to dream that the Jubilee celebrations could, as it was always hoped, feature the presence of the person they are honoring.

Although officially the palace will still not confirm anything, there is now behind the scenes a triage system taking place.

A trusted aide told The Daily Beast that the most important event for the queen, and the one she is putting her maximum energy into trying to attend, is the Trooping of the Color, on Thursday, June 2.

Although she will not emerge onto the parade ground to take the formal salute from the Foot Guards on the parade ground, she is determined to make a balcony appearance with Charles, Camilla, William and Kate and their children directly afterwards, from where she will watch the official flypast, which will be much bigger and better than usual, with 70 vintage and acrobatic aircraft performing a six-minute display.

Her appearance would kick off the four day weekend of celebrations in fine style.

The second event that palace aides are identifying as top target is the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, June 3, which it has now been confirmed that royal exiles Harry and Meghan will attend. Prince Andrew will also be there, despite his recent disgrace, as will the queen’s other three children.

“It increasingly appears that the reason queen pulled out of so many events earlier this year was because she was trying to conserve her strength.”

— Duncan Larcombe

Her attendance at the Derby on the Saturday, despite her love of horses, is thought to be less certain as it would involve a relatively long period of public scrutiny.

A question mark also hangs over her physical attendance at the Jubilee Pageant on the final and biggest day of the celebrations, Sunday, June 5.

The palace has been cagey about what exactly the Pageant will encompass, however it has been revealed that the procession in central London will feature the Gold State Carriage, which is being specially modified with what has been described as “the latest in digital technology.”

Images of the queen on her Coronation Day years ago will be projected on its windows to make it seem as though the Elizabeth of 70 years ago is actually riding inside, raising the possibility that the queen may attend this element of the celebrations virtually.

Duncan Larcombe, former royal editor at the Sun, told The Daily Beast: “It increasingly appears that the reason queen pulled out of so many events earlier this year was because she was trying to conserve her strength. She seems to be determined to try and be present for as many of the key moments of the Jubilee as possible.”

Asked what exactly the queen would be attending next week, a spokesperson for Her Majesty said: “Attendance at events will be confirmed nearer the time.”

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Inside Queen Elizabeth’s Plan to Save Her Own Platinum Jubilee – The Daily Beast

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