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Royal trip: Traveling to London in time for Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee

Royal trip: Traveling to London in time for Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee

LONDON (DPA): No queen or king has been on the British throne longer than Queen Elizabeth II. London is now gearing up to celebrate the monarch’s 70th year with parades and parties in early June. Here’s what to know if you’re considering joining the Platinum Jubilee festivities

London is pulling out all the stops, promising pomp and ceremony to mark the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch, in early June this year.

Elizabeth, 95, became the queen of Britain and more than a dozen other realms including Canada, Australia and New Zealand on the death of her father King George VI on Feb. 6, 1952, while she was in Kenya on an international tour.

Ironically, Elizabeth was not destined to be monarch at her birth, and became queen only because her uncle Edward VIII abdicated to be with American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

However, in 2015, she overtook Victoria as Britain’s longest-reigning sovereign in a line that traces its origin back to Norman King William I and his 1066 conquest of England.

Given the monarch’s increasingly rare public appearances, it might be a last chance of getting a glimpse of her in person, not to mention a fun time of year to head to London.

Even the estranged Duke and Duchess of Sussex are set to join in the jubilee celebrations – though Harry and his wife Meghan and the Queen’s son Prince Andrew, will not join her on the Buckingham Palace balcony for this year’s Trooping the Colour, royal officials said, probably due to the scandal surrounding Prince Andrew and the estrangement of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Here’s what to know if you’re thinking of a quick royal visit to London for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

The Jubilee

The Queen’s birthday parade is set to take place on June 2, a Thursday. It starts at 10 a.m. at Buckingham Palace and proceeds down The Mall to Horse Guards Parade to much fanfare.

The procession – featuring around 200 horses, 400 musicians and 1,400 soldiers – is planned to last almost 2 1/2 hours. After the parade ends, there will be the familiar Royal Air Force flypast, which members of the Royal Family will watch from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

Experts expect the Queen to also make an appearance on the balcony for this occasion. In view of the monarch’s health problems, however, her participation in other programme items of the festive weekend, which lasts until June 5, remains uncertain.

A family scene like this on the balcony of Buckingham Place is unlikely for the royal jubiliee, given the queen's health problems, the scandal surrounding Prince Andrew and the estrangement of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. (dpa Photo)
A family scene like this on the balcony of Buckingham Place is unlikely for the royal jubiliee, given the queen’s health problems, the scandal surrounding Prince Andrew and the estrangement of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. (dpa Photo)

A glimpse of the queen

There is a cordoned-off area with seats in front of Buckingham Palace, which is the best place to catch a glimpse of the queen. Access is only possible with tickets, which went on sale in mid-March.

For spontaneous visitors, The Mall and the edge of St James’s Park remain the best vantage points from 9 a.m. onwards. The British Army, which is organizing the parade, has further information on its website helping visitors plan their day.

Two tips from the Visit Britain tourist board:

One is, arrive early to secure the best seats. Many are likely to be there before 9 a.m. to be at the front.

The other: Bring a good pair of binoculars. For those staying at home or those who don’t want to get up early to queue, the BBC will be broadcasting the entire parade live.

Other festivities

On Sunday, June 5, street parties and so-called Big Lunches will be held in many parts of London and across Britain. An interactive map on the website edenprojectcommunities.com shows where these community parties are taking place all over the country.

There is also a big pageant on The Mall on Sunday: the Platinum Jubilee Pageant is also set to be much more colourful than the birthday parade on Thursday.

Artists, dancers, musicians and extras in costume will represent the different phases of the Queen’s long reign. Large corgi puppets are also part of the show – corgis are the Queen’s favorite breed of dog. The pageant can also be watched while standing on The Mall.

Tickets are already on sale for the Platinum Party at Buckingham Palace, a big concert planned for Saturday, June 4. However, this too will be shown live on TV.

In addition, the queen is expected – or at least scheduled – to drop in at the horse races at Epsom Downs in southwest London on Saturday. For the Derby taking place there, tickets were still available online at the beginning of May from 25 pounds (about $30). All those under 18 pay nothing.

The famous Gold State Coach will feature as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations. (dpa Photo)
The famous Gold State Coach will feature as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. (dpa Photo)

Cheap accommodation?

Anyone who decides to make a spontaneous visit on the occasion for the jubilee won’t be able to benefit from low-cost early bookings.

The advice from tourism officials is to consider Windsor. This town, which is also the Queen’s home, is less than an hour’s train ride from London.

Trains to the capital leave every 10 to 20 minutes, while double rooms for two people were still available here at the beginning of May for 125 pounds to 175 pounds ($150 to $200) per night.

You might still be able to find a hotel room in London at similar prices if you book a room outside the city center. You can usually get to the city center relatively quickly by underground.

For anyone arriving from continental Europe, the most climate-friendly form of travel is by train via Paris or Brussels through the Eurotunnel.

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