Giant dragon puppet revealed as centrepiece of Queen's £15m Jubilee pageant celebrations

·Royal Correspondent
·5-min read

Watch: Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to be celebrated with national events

A giant dragon puppet - the size of a double decker bus - will be a focal point in a "spectacular" £15m pageant to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

Organisers of the pageant have unveiled some of the plans confirmed so far, including the involvement of thousands of military personnel, as well as dancers, artists and creatives from around the country, as the nation prepares to celebrate the Queen's 70 year reign.

The pageant will be one of the final events across a four day weekend in June 2022, and will have three acts - ceremonial, celebration and finale.

The ceremonial stage will involve thousands of veterans and serving members of the Armed Forces marching with military precision in London, followed by a celebration stage including circus acts, street theatre, dancing and flag displays. 

Of the Queen's reaction to the plans so far, co-chair of the committee Nicholas Coleridge told Yahoo UK: "She has kept well in touch, via Sir Edward Young, her top man. She likes to have reports.

"He is still smiling which makes me think there have been no complaints."

The Hatchling, a dragon taller than a double-decker bus, will be a big part of the pageant. (Trigger)
The Hatchling, a dragon taller than a double-decker bus, will be a big part of the pageant. (Trigger)
The puppet has a wingspan wider than the Mall in London. (Trigger)
The puppet has a wingspan wider than the Mall in London. (Trigger)

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Organisers of the pageant are acutely aware of the extra significance of next year's events, which come after a year of turmoil and sorrow for Britons and the world.

Coleridge told Yahoo UK: "If we are released from our COVID strictures soon, by next year there is going to be so much pent up enthusiasm for celebration and jubilation - we are going to be pushing on an open door."

He added that there is an "extraordinary" appreciation for the Queen and her long reign, "regardless of what views are on society or monarchy". 

"I think the market squares of Britain are going to be teeming with folk, the pubs will be staying open late, and people will be in the mood for it," he said.

The budget for the pageant is between £10-15m, which organisers say is in line with the costs of previous celebrations.

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It will be self-funded, through partnerships and by donations, with the team "halfway there" on the budget.

Coleridge said: "We do due diligence [on donations] with all our partnerships.

"The sort of people who want to be generous and get behind the event have so far been a marvellous lot, without any problems surrounding them at all.

"We have to be careful."

Sir Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse, has been enlisted by the pageant team, and has written a faerie story titled There Once is a Queen, which has been used to tell the story of the Queen's 70 year reign.

Pageant master Adrian Evans said the pageant would be a "spectacular unfolding" of "her 70 year reign and our transforming society". 

Evans said the event would also have references to the late Prince Philip, saying "he is a constant presence".

Undated handout concept image issued by the Platinum Jubilee Pageant of marching bands who will make up part of the Jubilee celebration. The marching bands, a giant dragon puppet and circus acts will form part of a spectacular pageant to celebrate the Queen' Issue date: Tuesday June 29, 2021.
Marching bands who will make up part of the Jubilee celebration. The marching bands, a giant dragon puppet and circus acts will form part of a spectacular pageant to celebrate the Queen. (Platinum Jubilee Pageant)
Undated handout concept image issued by the Platinum Jubilee Pageant of acrobats and other performers who will make up part of the Jubilee celebration. Marching bands, a giant dragon puppet and circus acts will form part of a spectacular pageant to celebrate the Queen' Issue date: Tuesday June 29, 2021.
Acrobats and other performers who will make up part of the Jubilee celebration. (Platinum Jubilee Pageant)

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The pageant will examine each decade of her reign through the eyes of teenagers, looking at the change that happened, and adding her own interests into the mix, like playful corgis and horses.

Her accession will be explored with the use of animals reacting to the news of the new Queen, because she was in Kenya when her father died in February 1952. 

The dragon has been chosen to lead the procession, a 6.5m tall ceremonial puppet made by outdoor arts producers Trigger, based in Bristol. Before next year, The Hatchling will debut in Plymouth.

The hatchling will help people celebrate freedom after a year of isolation, eventually unfolding her wings, and flying from a cliff top and over the sea.

It's the largest puppet ever to be operated solely by humans, with a team of 36 puppeteers rotating in teams of 15. 

There will also be a thank you dance for key workers, a parade of flags designed by schoolchildren from around the Commonwealth, and a trapeze artist suspended underneath a huge balloon printed with an image of the Queen.

Evans said: "We are inspired by The Queen’s regard for family values, her care for community, her love of the natural environment, her passion for equestrianism and her constant corgi companions."

The finale of the pageant is still a secret, to be revealed next year. 

Pageant Master Adrian Evans at the launch of Platinum Jubilee Pageant at the Victoria And Albert Museum, London. Plans have been unveiled for celebrations in June 2022 which will mark the Queen's 70th year on the throne with a Pageant next June. Picture date: Tuesday June 29, 2021. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Pageant Master Adrian Evans at the launch of Platinum Jubilee Pageant at the Victoria And Albert Museum, London. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Pageant Co-Chair Nicholas Coleridge at the launch of Platinum Jubilee Pageant at the Victoria And Albert Museum, London. Plans have been unveiled for celebrations in June 2022 which will mark the Queen's 70th year on the throne with a Pageant next June. Picture date: Tuesday June 29, 2021. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Pageant Co-Chair Nicholas Coleridge at the launch of Platinum Jubilee Pageant which will take place on 5 June 2022. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)

Although the events of 5 June 2022 will take place in London, organisers will be involving people from across the country and the Commonwealth, and hope to create lasting legacies of the jubilee within the artists' communities. 

Creative organisations from Plymouth, Coventry, Bristol and more have already been enlisted, including Cirque Bijou and Imagineer Productions.

Schoolchildren in Belfast, Boston, Cardiff, Coventry, the Highlands of Scotland, Liverpool, London, and Stockton-on-Tees, as well as overseas in Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Pakistan, Rwanda and Tanzania, will design flags to be carried by 200 dancers in the parade.

The full route of the pageant has not yet been decided by the organisers, who are still working with local authorities to plan how it will work.

Although it is 11 months away, Evans said the plans would be adapted to any remaining COVID regulations in place next year.

Buckingham Palace will confirm royal attendees to be alongside the Queen closer to the time.

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