LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II may have missed a star-studded London concert in her honor Saturday, but she brought the house down when she appeared in a surprise video recorded with another British national treasure: Paddington Bear.
The 96-year-old monarch revealed she shared Paddington’s love of marmalade sandwiches in a comedy skit that was shown to open a Platinum Jubilee concert outside Buckingham Palace, delighting thousands who gathered for marking the third day of festivities marking her 70 years on the throne.
Rock band Queen and Adam Lambert kicked off the open-air show outside the palace, followed by performances from Duran Duran, Rod Stewart and opera singer Andrea Bocelli. Diana Ross will close the show with her first UK live performance in 15 years.
Prince Charles and Prince William, the queen’s son and grandson, will address a live audience of 22,000 and millions more watching on television.
The queen has had problems moving around lately, which the palace describes as “episodic mobility issues,” limiting her public appearances in recent months. But her absence at the concert didn’t dampen the party atmosphere among the crowds.
“It’s a magical experience … (This is) never again going to happen in our lifetime, and it’s just absolutely incredible to be a part of this,” said Sam Ahcquoim, from Cornwall in southwestern England. “I’ve been really, really excited and just can’t wait to get in there now and start dancing.”
The sovereign also opted not to attend the Epsom Derby on Saturday. Instead, she was represented at the prestigious annual horse race by her daughter, Princess Anne, who appeared in the royal box with her family as crowds cheered.
The queen is widely known as an avid horse lover, and she has only missed the Epsom Derby a handful of times. On Saturday, five of her former racehorses were paraded, and 40 jockeys who have ridden for the queen formed a guard of honor before the national anthem was played.
“She’s been breeding horses for over 60 years. She knows all the blood lines and she’s won lots of races and she’s very knowledgeable, “Frankie Dettori, who lined up part of the course with fellow jockeys, told the BBC.
“I’m sure today she’ll find a TV and she’s going to watch it live, because she loves the Derby so much,” he added.
It was the second time in as many days that the queen’s mobility issues have robbed crowds of a chance to see her.
On Friday, the queen skipped a special service of Thanksgiving in her honor at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Palace officials said she had experienced “some discomfort” at events the day before, which included waving to huge crowds from Buckingham Palace.
Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, were among nearly 50 members of the royal family who gathered Friday at St. Paul’s to honor the absent head of state. It was the couple’s first public appearance in the UK since they stepped back from royal duties and moved to California two years ago.
Apart from attending Friday’s service, the couple has stayed so far out of the limelight. Their two children, Archie and Lilibet, who turned one Saturday, haven’t yet made an appearance during this trip. A spokesman for the couple said they were spending the day “privately” and were not joining some 30 other members of the royal family at Saturday’s concert.
Meanwhile, other members of the royal family traveled to Wales and Northern Ireland as part of celebrations across the UK
William and his wife Kate brought two of their three children – 8-year-old Prince George and 7-year-old Princess Charlotte – to Cardiff Castle in Wales before a separate concert in the castle grounds in honor of the queen.
The queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, visited a 1950s-themed seaside funfair in Belfast. Edward tried his hand at pulling a pint of Guinness at a diner, while Sophie took in a ’50s and’ 60s dance demonstration.
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