So anyway, the Queen had yet another Jubilee, this time for being Queen for 70 years, which is a record for an English monarch. British monarch too I think. It’s a long time. I think that is to do with modern medicine, but then Victoria was around for ages and she lived in the Victorian age. Elizabeth I also went on for what seemed like ages, and that was in the Elizabethan age, which was probably disgusting. In terms of the all-time world monarch list, Queen Liz Two is actually second only to Louis XIV, the French ‘Sun King’, who is one of only two monarchs on that list to get a song on the Beatles album Abbey Road (the Queen was the other, making an unnamed appearance in Her Majesty). She recently overtook Rama IX of Thailand and Johan II of Liechtenstein (both kings in the 70 year club), though the latter uses the same theme song as our Queen Bess. In two years Elizabeth II will take the crown from Louis Quatorze, assuming she is still with us and we haven’t started the Short Reign Of Charles III yet. Then again, there is another king who was king for 82 years, Sobhuza II of Swaziland, who was king of the country when they became independent from British rule in 1968, so I guess the records are like, well before that date doesn’t count. Well they do count, and Lillibet is going to have to stick around cutting ribbons and watching horses run fast for another 12 years to beat his record. Nevertheless, there was a lot of celebration for Her Majesty’s Platinum album, 70 Greatest Hits. It’s a little strange to think that she was the Queen when the Beatles were still at school. She was the Queen when England won the World Cup. She was the Queen the last time Wales played at a World Cup. She was the Queen when the M1 motorway opened. She was the Queen when the band Queen was formed (will they have to change their name to King when she dies?) The Platinum Jubilee celebrations were scheduled to take place while I was back in London (no, I didn’t go back there for that), though I was leaving for France in the middle of it. My mum loves all that, and she decorated the house in union flags, the most in our street. There was no street party this time, unlike for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 (and the Silver Jubilee in 1977, though I was only a baby), but not the Golden Jubilee in 2002. It’s like we alternate when we have them. Maybe we will have one for the 75th Jubilee, which is confusingly also called the Diamond Jubilee, or the 80th, which is disappointingly called the Oak Jubilee. Imagine that, the Oak Jubilee.
On the Thursday that the celebrations were to begin in London and elsewhere, I went with my mum down into central London to watch the flyover and walk about in the crowds. We went to Trafalgar Square to await the Red Arrows and all the other planes from the RAF (I do love seeing the planes, I must admit, I’m a sucker for a Spitfire). It was busy alright. We were outside Charing Cross Station, and I sketched the crowds a bit (above), while my mum went into the little Sainsbury’s to see if she could get some wine and a sandwich. That was not an easy prospect, the place was packed. So I said I would go in there for her, and I braved the squashed throng, and while there were no sandwiches left, I did get her a bottle of prosecco and the last plastic cups in the shop. I needed some time to recover after that, I don’t like crowds in small places, so we sat on the step and drank the wine, and eventually the planes flew over and everyone got excited. You couldn’t get anywhere near the Mall. We walked down to the Ship and Shovell pub to use the loos, and then just wandered about towards St. James, up Pall Mall and down Piccadilly. There were people from all over the country, all over the world actually, maybe the universe for all I know. It was a historic occasion, but I was glad to not be around for even more crowds and pageantry, and TV shows about the Queen, and so I went to France to do some sketching.