Waves and smiles on balcony from Queen at poignant end to Jubilee celebrations
Just four years shy of her 100th birthday, the Jubilee Queen rallied to bring her historic Platinum celebrations to a close with a brief final balcony appearance.
It was a moment for the history books, filled with poignancy, as the frail one-of-a-kind monarch, resplendent in vivid green, stepped out at Buckingham Palace to bid farewell to the vast crowds.
Her 70-year milestone is unlikely to ever be repeated and tens of thousands crammed into The Mall to take their chance to serenade their sovereign with the national anthem in unison.
Flanked by her three heirs – son, grandson and great-grandson – it offered a glimpse into the monarchy’s future.
She shared the stage with just seven of her family – the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince George, as well as two future Queens – the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge – and Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
As the monarch walked slowly and careful onto the famous frontage, Charles placed his hand on his mother’s elbow, guiding her as she used her walking stick.
As the national anthem was sung, the Queen surveyed the scenes before her, deep in thought.
Then with smiles and a few waves of her white-gloved hands, she turned and was gone, back through the doors, achieving her aim of being seen to be believed in less than three minutes.
The Queen served as the uniting focal point for the four days of festivities – glowing tributes were paid, her image projected onto the Palace and prayers said.
But in a reality, it was a Jubilee without its leading lady for much of the time, unsurprising given her age and her mobility difficulties, as she missed the thanksgiving service, the Epsom Derby and the pop concert.
The Queen was on public view in person for just over 27 minutes throughout the weekend.
Her sanctuary as she rested was Windsor Castle, where, granddaughter Zara Tindall said, she watched the Epsom Derby in her “comfy clothes”.
But her presence was felt large – and the pre-recorded comedy sketch with Paddington bear brought a fresh light on her humour and love of fun.
With the monarch confessing to not being able to move, observers will be questioning whether Elizabeth II will be asked take to the balcony again as she continues with her lifelong pledge to serve.
And in a written message signalling the end of the momentous occasion, even the Queen publicly acknowledged the challenges she faces.
But she renewed her commitment to serve as monarch, with the key phrase “to the best of my ability, supported by my family”.
“While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all,” she said.
“Humbled and touched” by the nation’s response, the Queen said there was “no guidebook” on how to mark a Platinum reign but the public’s jubilant celebrations had gained a queenly seal of approval.