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Wednesday, July 6, 2022
 
Queen Elizabeth II

Queen’s Jubilee a right royal platinum parade preview

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Unless you’re a resident of Planet Zog (which has lousy wifi) you may have gathered that there’s going to be a ‘bit of a do’ to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years on the throne. A platinum work anniversary is impressive by anyone’s standards, and despite enduring more than one ‘annus horribilis’, Her Majesty continues going in to the ‘office’ a quarter-century after most people have settled into cosy-slippered retirement.

Britain may have lost an empire, but it can put on a jolly good show when the need arises, as the 2012 London Olympics demonstrated. This year, the capital’s carnival talent is being tapped once again to provide the Platinum Jubilee Pageant’s ‘wow’ factor, just as it was for the Golden Jubilee celebrations. Those who took part in 2002 are unlikely to forget the surreal thrill of playing mas in the Mall.

The celebrations actually started last week, from 12 to 15 May, as over 1,000 human performers – including Bollywood dancers and the Trinidad & Tobago Steelband – plus 500 horses took part in ‘A Gallop through History’ in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

But what exactly are we celebrating? The dates can be confusing. Princess Elizabeth became Queen immediately after King George VI died on 6 February 1952. A coronation takes time organise, so that was held 16 months later, on 2 June 1953. The Queen was 96 on 21 April, but her official birthday is always in June; it’s marked by gun salutes and the impressive Trooping of the Colour parade down the Mall.


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Thursday 2 June starts our four-day Platinum Jubilee holiday weekend and marks both the Queen’s official birthday and the 69th anniversary of the coronation – even though her actual birthday (21 April) and the actual 70th anniversary of her becoming Queen (6 February) have both passed. It’s all a cunning trick to confuse American tourists!

Every year the Queen takes the Royal Train to Tattenham Corner to watch another great horsey frolic, the Epsom Derby, and she’ll be determined not to miss it on Saturday 4 June. Later the same day, the Royal Family is hosting a monster fete in front of Buckingham Palace, dubbed the Platinum Party at the Palace. Tickets were allocated months ago, but you can watch it live on big screens in St James’s Park and the Mall. There’s no word yet whether it will have any Caribbean musical content.

The PP@theP is really just a warm-up for the main event – the Platinum Jubilee Pageant on Sunday 5 June. We know it will go along the Mall, but the rest of the route hasn’t yet been revealed. However, for the 2002 event masqueraders formed up along the Embankment, moved slowly up Northumberland Avenue, then passed under Admiralty Arch into the Mall, before wining under royal inspection from the palace balcony. The return was via Buckingham Gate, Victoria Street and Parliament Square. The 2022 parade may well use the same route – check media for details.

What can you expect to see on the day? The parade is divided into four ‘acts’. Act I For Queen and Country leads off with the phantasmagorical Royal State Coach, a demented riot of giltwood vegetation, mythical creatures and random symbols of imperial power; wisely, the Queen will not be travelling in it, the coach is notoriously uncomfortable. It will be followed by 1,750 servicemen and women, many of them from Commonwealth countries, plus 200 horses.

Next comes The Time of Our Lives, a nostalgic wallow through seven decades of popular culture – music, dance, fashion and ‘national treasures’, including venerable TV hosts, Daleks and Sinclair C5s.


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It’s Act III Let’s Celebrate that’s most likely to grab our attention. Some 2,500 people will tell, in 12 separate ‘chapters’, “the story of the Queen’s reign and personal interests”, so expect corgis and, yes, more horses. Portrayals will include “street theatre, music-on-the-move, urban dance, and the very best of Carnival, May Day, Mela, Fiesta and Mardi Gras”.

Here we’ll see some familiar and respected names in the carnival arts. Mahogany will put 300 masqueraders on the road as elephants, giraffes and flamingos, portraying the animal kingdom’s response to Princess Elizabeth’s accession whilst on safari in Kenya. Carl Gabriel – famed for his iconic wire and papier mâché figures – is believed to have created a wire-framed portrayal of the monarch, which will be followed by masqueraders in purple and white to represent the coronation robe.

Emergency Exit Arts and Mandinga have created a huge, mobile oak tree, from which ribbons will emerge so that dancers can caper around it like a giant maypole. Bringing a South Asian flavour to the parade, Nutkhut’s dancers will be wearing specially commissioned Platinum Jubilee saris while acrobats ‘bake’ a four-tier wedding cake to represent the Queen’s marriage to Prince Philip.

Isle of Wight-based Shademakers will contribute “A menagerie of farmyard animals and mythical creatures” including lions, unicorns, a dragon, peacocks, swans, chickens, pigs, sheep and a snake. At Notting Hill, the band was known for its Gothic take on mas, but it might be a touch insensitive to parade its nightmarish flayed horse in front of an equine-loving Queen. Still, it would be a treat to see it again.

Other groups will bring dragons, princesses, seahorses and ‘gangsta grannies’ to the show, so this ‘act’ is definitely the one to watch out for.

After that, Act IV Happy and Glorious appears to be little more than an excuse for a knees-up around the Queen Victoria Memorial, singing the National Anthem in the company of assorted ‘national treasures’. If the prospect of Notting Hill -sized crowds without the soca doesn’t appeal, you can watch it all on big screens in the Mall, St James’s Park and Whitehall or, from the comfort of your sofa, on BBC1.

• There are several official websites, such as www.platinumjubilee.gov.uk and www.platinumpageant.com. However, much of their information is out of date and incomplete, pointing users to expired deadlines and broken links. In lieu of improvements, Soca News will bring you elevant updates when they are available.


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