It’s not long now until Brits can enjoy a bumper long weekend brimming with royal activities and special events.
Friday, June 3, has become an extra bank holiday, created especially to mark the monarch’s 70-year reign. And the spring bank holiday, which usually takes place on the last Monday of May, has been moved to Thursday 2 June to create a four-day-weekend in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
The Royal’s calendar will be packed; a military parade, a concert at Buckingham Palace and a Jubilee pageant are just three of the many events taking place in the capital across the weekend. Big screens will be set up in The Mall and St James’s Park in London, Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh and in Bute Park in Cardiff for the public to watch the action outdoors.
Meanwhile, William and Kate will visit Wales during the bank holiday, Edward and Sophie will travel to Northern Ireland and Anne to Scotland for official engagements. It is not yet known where Harry and Meghan, who are heading to the UK with their children Archie and Lilibet, might be seen, amid suggestions they could watch the pageant.
Here’s a day-by-day guide to the Platinum Jubilee events to keep an eye out for…
Thursday June 2
The official programme begins with the military spectacle of Trooping the Colour. More than 1,500 officers and soldiers and 250 horses from the Household Division will stage the display on Horse Guards Parade in central London, with the colour trooped by the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards.
Some 400 musicians from 10 military bands and corps of drums will march amid pomp and pageantry. The royal family will travel from Buckingham Palace along The Mall to the parade ground, with the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and the Princess Royal on horseback.
Plans are said to be in place either for the Queen to briefly inspect the troops, or to only appear with the Royal Family on the balcony for a special flypast afterwards. Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, William and the Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Anne, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence will be on the balcony.
A six-minute display by more than 70 aircraft will include the Red Arrows and the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. In the evening, more than 2,800 beacons will be set ablaze across the UK and the Commonwealth in tribute to the Queen.
The network of flaming tributes will stretch throughout the country, with beacons at sites including the Tower of London, Windsor Great Park, Hillsborough Castle and the Queen’s estates of Sandringham and Balmoral, and on top of the UK’s four highest peaks.
The first beacons will be lit in Tonga and Samoa in the South Pacific, and the final one in the central American country of Belize. The principal beacon outside the Palace – a 21-metre tall Tree of Trees sculpture for the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative – will be illuminated by a senior member of the royal family, and images will be projected on to the Palace.
Friday June 3
A traditional service of thanksgiving will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral in central London. There will be no ceremonial journey to the cathedral and the Queen, if she attends, will use a different entrance to aid her comfort rather than use the steep main steps.
Wider members of the family are expected to be present, including possibly the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Duke of York, and the service will be followed by a Guildhall reception.
Saturday June 4
The Queen was due to attend the Epsom Derby, but she no longer plans to do so in order to pace herself throughout the weekend. Frankie Dettori and Willie Carson are expected to be part of a guard of honour on the course, of up to 40 past and present jockeys who have ridden for the Queen.
In the evening, Queen + Adam Lambert will open the BBC’s Party at the Palace – set on three stages in front of Buckingham Palace, entertaining a live audience of 22,000 people. The line-up includes Alicia Keys, Nile Rodgers, Andrea Bocelli, Duran Duran, Bond composer Hans Zimmer, Ella Eyre, Craig David, Mabel, Elbow, George Ezra and Diana Ross.
The televised show will also feature appearances from stars including Sir David Attenborough, Emma Raducanu, David Beckham, Stephen Fry and Dame Julie Andrews.
Sunday June 5
More than 70,000 Big Jubilee Lunches are being held across the UK on Sunday afternoon, with an expected 10 million people set to sit down with their neighbours at street parties, picnics and barbecues. Camilla is patron of the Big Lunch and likely to join a street party at some stage.
The celebration also coincides with this year’s Thank You Day – originally set up to pay tribute to those who helped people through the pandemic. Celebrities Ross Kemp, Gareth Southgate, Prue Leith and Ellie Simmonds have urged people to throw the biggest thank you party for the Queen.
The big finale is in the form of the Jubilee Pageant through the streets of London. Set to be watched by up to a billion people across the globe, more than 10,000 people will be involved in the £15 million procession.
Ed Sheeran singing the national anthem, puppet corgis, a giant 3D wire bust of the Queen, a tribute to seven decades of fashion, music and culture, and the Gold State Coach are just some of the sights set to feature along the 3km route.
There is speculation the Queen and the royal family could make a final appearance on the Palace balcony to round off the weekend.