This week, the United Kingdom will commemorate Queen Elizabeth‘s unprecedented 70 years on the throne with four days of festivities ranging from military parades and religious services to street parties and a pop performance outside Buckingham Palace.
In February, Elizabeth, 96, celebrated her seven decades on the throne, and two public holidays have been set aside to provide a four-day weekend to commemorate her reign from June 2 to 5.
It is unclear how many of these the monarch will attend, as she has been forced to skip a number of important events in recent months due to “episodic mobility problems,” according to Buckingham Palace. Her presence will be decided on the day, according to royal authorities.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid homage to “Elizabeth the Great” in parliament last week, saying her loyalty and dedication to duty were unparalleled.
“I hope that in the next days we may… demonstrate a love and a commitment to return the love and devotion and leadership she has provided to the whole country over seven decades with every bonfire, concert, street celebration, and aerobatic display,” he added.
The four-day festival kicks off on Thursday with the customary “Trooping the Colour” military parade in central London, followed by a flyover of contemporary and historic aircraft.
The queen will also welcome the throng from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, however her son Prince Andrew and grandson Prince Harry, the two most divisive members of the royal family, will be missing.
Andrew settled a lawsuit accusing him of sexually assaulting Virginia Giuffre in the United States in February. Because of his ties to the late convicted US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, he had already stood down from public office.
Harry, the younger son of heir Prince Charles, likewise abandoned royal responsibilities to go to Los Angeles with his American bride Meghan, from where they have hurled insults and racist charges at the royal family.
Both are expected to have other commitments throughout the holiday weekend. Her late husband, Prince Philip, who died in April at the age of 99 after 73 years at her side, will also be absent.
On Friday, the queen will attend a thanksgiving ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and on Saturday, she will attend the Derby horse racing with other members of her family. A performance including rock band Queen, pop band Duran Duran, and American singer Diana Ross will take place later outside Buckingham Palace.
On Sunday, the festivities will come to a close with street celebrations and a procession around the British city.
When her father, King George VI, died on Feb. 6, 1952, while she was on an international tour in Kenya, Elizabeth became queen of the United Kingdom and more than a dozen other countries, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
At the time, the Soviet Union, China, and the United States were led by Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Harry Truman, respectively, while Winston Churchill was the British Prime Minister.
She surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria in September 2015 to become the line’s longest-reigning monarch in over 1,000 years, dating back to Norman King William I’s invasion of England in 1066.
The queen has been a symbol of stability for the country despite massive social, economic, and political upheaval, including the end of the British Empire, during her seven decades on the throne.
In a statement, the Speaker of the House of Commons remarked, “Not only has your majesty been a continuous presence in the lives of most of your people, but you are also the third longest serving monarch in global history.”
Polls show she is still popular and well-respected, however they also reflect a rising disdain for the monarchy among the younger generation.
Last Thursday, a YouGov poll for the Republic campaign group indicated that more than half of those polled were uninterested in the jubilee.
“Rather than being a national event, the jubilee is a niche interest,” Republic’s Graham Smith explained. “The monarchy’s survival is in severe doubt due to a loss of enthusiasm across the country and among all age groups under 65.”