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British Queen Elizabeth II and her royal family saluted troops and citizens outside the balcony of Buckingham Palace Thursday, as the monarch celebrated 70 years on the throne, an event known as the Platinum Jubilee, the New York Times reported.
The queen was joined by her eldest son and heir Prince Charles and other family members in the massive multi-day celebrations, a major turnaround for the country following two years of coronavirus restrictions that have led to scaled-back events at Windsor Castle, according to NBC News.
Observers told the Times that her appearance will provide reassurance to the British public following a protracted period in which sickness and mobility issues led the queen to postpone many public engagements.
Tributes also poured in from all over the world, including from current and former world leaders: French President Emmanuel Macron said Elizabeth was the “golden thread that binds our two countries.” Meanwhile, former US President Barack Obama said she was a “gift” to the entire world.
Australia’s newly-elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also marked the event by lighting a beacon at Regatta Point in Australia’s capital of Canberra, the Guardian added. He noted that Australians still hold the queen “in respect and affection.”
Albanese also took the opportunity to say that Australia’s relationship with Britain had changed over the past seven decades, positing that both stood as “equals” rather than “parent and upstart.”
Many fans of the royal family also gathered in the streets with flags, painted faces and royal costumes – with some dressed as Queen Elizabeth II herself, the Washington Post noted.
Meanwhile, police detained a number of protesters who were part of the Animal Rebellion group, when they tried to disrupt the massive military parade. The group said the disruption was aimed at “demanding that royal land is reclaimed” and protesting “the crown’s inaction on the climate emergency and their continued support for meat, fishing, and dairy,” the Evening Standard wrote.
The platinum jubilee comes at a difficult time for the 96-year-old queen, amid the declining popularity of the British monarchy and family scandals that have tarnished the image of the centuries-old institution, NPR noted.
A majority of British people view the queen favorably, and she continues to be seen as a symbol of steadfastness and dependability. Yet, many questions linger about the survivability of the royal family and the popularity of the monarchy once Queen Elizabeth II leaves the stage – a majority said in a recent poll they don’t want the queen to retire.
That is in part due to her successor: In April, a YouGov poll showed that just 34 percent of Brits want Charles to become king, while about 37 percent would prefer to see his son, Prince William, take the throne.