When it comes to the celebration of the world’s longest-serving monarch this summer, you could describe it as a sense of collective breath-holding. Only once – at the memorial service for her late husband Philip – has Queen Elizabeth II has not been seen outside short television appearances for many months. These show her with all her trademark incisiveness but looking frailer and using a stick.
She has recently missed occasions dear to her heart including the Remembrance and the Commonwealth service. On April 21st she celebrated her 96th birthday.
No European kingdom has ever celebrated a platinum jubilee before; there may never be one again; this jubilee comes at a time when the U.K. is evaluating its relationship with all sorts of establishments, including the monarchy.
The Queen herself is generally held in high regard but the concept of the monarchy is more uncertain than it has been for many years, from recent scandals, such as Prince Andrew’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein to its former colonies reevaluating their places in its Commonwealth.
For all the respect the majority of British people feel for the Queen, plenty of Londoners will be taking advantage of the extra bank holidays by heading away on holiday, but those who stay are likely to be celebrating with high levels of enthusiasm, bunting and baked goods, alongside the patriotic tipple or two. If you want to see the U.K.’s capital in the mellowest of party moods, this is the time to come.
Traditionally, jubilees are a mix of pageantry and street parties, and will – as per tradition – center on London. The main Platinum Jubilee celebrations willl take place on June 2 to 5 – a weekend preceded by a bank holiday – will include a Birthday Parade in Horseguards, with 400 musicians and 1,400 soldiers.
Everyone expects – and hopes – that the Queen will be able to come out onto the balcony at Buckingham Palace to see the flypast and acknowledge the crowds on the Mall. There will be a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on June 3, a concert at Buckingham Palace that will be screened by the B.B.C. The Royal Family are set to attend Royal Ascot, museums across the capital – and indeed the country, will have special exhibitions.
London’s hotels have also drawn up plans to mark the occasion in style. The Goring Hotel is just across the wall from Buckingham Palace and has housed foreign royalty since it opened in 1910. It has a Royal Warrant for hospitality; Kate Middleton spent her last night as a single woman there. In 1953, the Goring housed several royal families, including those from Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Hotels near the likely route to St Paul’s include the Corinthia, the Rubens and the Sofitel St James while the Intercontinental Park Lane is built on the site of the Queen’s childhood home, 145 Piccadilly. A Platinum Jubilee tea is already being served while its Golden Brooch cocktail combines tequila with jasmine agave, blackcurrant, and pink grapefruit, and is topped with a flower to symbolize the rectangular golden brooch presented to the Queen on her first state visit to Mexico in 1975.
Items from the Claridge’s royal archive will be on display, including footage of the queen attending a Coronation gowns show, menus, cocktail cards and memorabilia. Special cocktails will be featured in the Fumoir and Claridge’s bar, including the Windsor Rose, served 70 years ago. The Berkeley’s Pret-a-Portea pays culinary homage to the Queen’s hats and Launer handbags plus the crown, created in vanilla biscuit with royal icing.
The Dilly hotel on Piccadilly will have its own bicycles over the Jubilee weekend and bespoke picnic baskets allowing guests to head to Green Park and St James’s Park.
Shangri-la The Shard will be displaying The Queen’s People, Hugo Rittson-Thomas’s portrait of the monarch and Royal Household. Ting will have a Jubilee Afternoon tea, in a wisteria-bedecked TING, in collaboration with the florist McQueens and a cocktail featuring Dubonnet, one of the Queen’s favorite drinks. Two night breaks can include private morning or evening tours of the Tower of London, Kensington Palace or Hampton Court.