You may be aware of a very historic event that took place this last week. Queen Elizabeth II of The United Kingdom passed away on Thursday at the age of 96 after reigning as queen for 70 years! The next longest reigning king of queen of England was Queen Victoria, her great-great-grandmother who reigned for 63 years. In this episode, we’re going to take a journey to the home of Queen Elizabeth to visit for a very special event that happened in June of this year. So grab your raincoats and umbrellas and follow us to what in many ways is a magical island of fairytales filled with queens and castles, princes, and princesses. An island of magnificent beauty and wondrous tales. A land where King Arthur and his round table were born, where Robin Hood pranced through the forests and Shakespeare scribbled great plays by candlelight. It is an island of green meadows and majestic cities. We are arriving now, and it is foggy and cold – and a bit wet, too! We touch down in a lush green park. In front of us is a large white palace. Behind us is a pond filled with squawking ducks hunting for their breakfast. A fine mist rises from the wet grass and floats slowly to the sky. Now we are in the city of London, England. The very same city of storybook characters such as Mary Poppins and Sherlock Holmes!
And why are we in London, England on this cold, June morning? To see Queen Elizabeth II! It is June and every June the Queen celebrates with a big birthday party, called the “Trooping of the Color.” It is called the “Trooping of the Color” because hundreds of brightly dressed soldiers march, or troop, past the Queen as she stands on the balcony of Buckingham Palace enjoying the parade. They march in tight formation in their red jackets and big, fuzzy black hats, called Bearskin hats. Other soldiers ride on beautiful horses and wear shiny gold helmets and carry golden swords. Still, other soldiers march in tight lines and play marching tunes on shiny instruments. At the end of their marching, they stop and yell “Long Live the Queen!” What a wonderful birthday party!
But in June 2022, the Queen is holding an even bigger party! It is called a “Platinum Jubilee” and it is being held to honor her 70 years as Queen! Can you imagine doing one job for 70 years? It’s hard to envision, but she has done just that! She is the only monarch – meaning king or queen – in British history who has ruled for 70 years. Truly historic! This event has never happened in Britain before so the party will be HUGE!
Let’s hurry and find a place to watch all the festivities. Ah, here’s a nice patch of grass beside the “Mall,” the long street leading up to Buckingham Palace. More and more people are gathering along the Mall, waiting to see the Queen. They are here to honor her dedication to her country and her people. She has been a queen since she was only 25 years old. She used to be a princess and her father was King George VI. We talked about King George VI, the king with a stutter, in one of our previous shows. He was a very shy, honorable king who ruled during World War II. Unfortunately, he got very sick after the war and died while Princess Elizabeth was in Africa on a royal trip. She left Britain as a princess and returned as a Queen. As the oldest child of King George VI, she instantly became Queen when he passed away. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for her to lose her father, and then have to rule a country at only 25 years old?
When she turned 21 and was still a princess, she made a speech on the radio and stated: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, will be devoted to your service.” That means that she would work for them and help them her entire life. And she kept her promise! She is now 96 years old.
During her long reign, she has advised her government, provided aid during times of trouble, offered support and guidance in times of uncertainty, and acknowledged the accomplishments of her people throughout the decades. She has knighted her finest men and honored her bravest women. She has opened hospitals and libraries and schools. She has toured factories and towns and cities to listen to her people and understand their needs. She has met with presidents and emperors, popes, and kings from around the world to build relationships and unite countries in the name of peace. She was the first monarch to address the US Congress. This was a big moment in history and an act of true friendship that no other king or queen had accomplished – because remember, the US fought a war to gain their independence from England! And in 2013, she passed the Crown Act, which means that the oldest child of the monarch, whether it is a girl or a boy, will be the next ruler. Before, only males were allowed to rule even if they had an older female sibling. Queen Elizabeth II never seems to stop! She works 365 days a week, reading documents and signing papers that arrive every day in a bright red leather box to the palace.
But it is getting very crowded on the Mall. People surround us and we are packed in like sardines! Everyone is laughing and joking and waving red-white-and-blue flags and wearing funny hats! Some people are wearing red-white-and blue pom pom headbands or headbands with miniature British flags! Others wear suits, shoes, sunglasses, and hats in the design of the British flag – they are wrapped in British pride from their head to their toes!
And the noise! Suddenly a loud drum booms a rhythm down the Mall, followed by the brassy sounds of a marching band playing a happy tune. The band comes into view wearing bright red coats and big fluffy bearskin hats. They look exactly like the guards of the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz – but these are called Grenedier Guards, and they guard the British queen. The band is followed by rows and rows of soldiers in gleaming helmets riding shiny black horses. The horses look so proud and strong as they prance past. They are not bothered by all the noise around them – they have been trained to ignore the loud bands and cheering crowds. And what is that clatter we hear? It is the sound of 20 trotting horses pulling heavy cannons on wooden carts. The horses’ hooves clatter loudly on the pavement as the carts rumble by like a roll of thunder rushing down the Mall. What a glorious sound. It must have sounded very fierce in battle hundreds of years ago!
And then a huge roar follows the soldiers down the street. People yell, “The royals are coming!” Seconds later, a beautiful carriage comes into view pulled by gleaming horses. Duchesses Catherine and Camilla, plus the royal children, George, Charlotte, and Louis, smile and wave to the crowd from the open carriage. A second carriage rolls by with Edward and Sophie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, smiling and waving. The Earl is the youngest son of the Queen. Soon, another marching band comes into view and is followed by the senior royals on gleaming black stallions. Prince Charles rides in front in a beautiful red uniform and bearskin hat, followed by Prince William and Anne, Princess Royal, both dressed in military uniforms. They sit ram-rod straight on their horses as they trot down the Mall. The crowd roars in excitement – these two men are the future kings of England!
More bands, bagpipers, and soldiers march by, each stepping in unison, arms swinging back and forth in time to the beating drum. The air is filled with horns and bagpipes, clopping horses and marching soldiers, cheers and whistles! The crowd is anxious to follow them down the mall to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen!
Finally, the police open the gates and the crowd surges down the street. Hundreds of thousands of royal fans flow down the mall like a tsunami – a big ocean wave! We must be careful as we join them – we don’t want to fall down in this mad rush or lose each other in the crowd. We rush along for blocks until the crowd slowly comes to a stop in front of the palace.
We are now packed tightly together. We crane our necks and raise our phones to try to catch a glimpse of the balcony. Suddenly the balcony doors swing open and the Queen steps out! She wears a pale blue suit and hat and white gloves. She walks to the edge of the balcony, followed by her family. A huge roar erupts from the crowd and the Queen beams a big smile and waves in every direction. She stands and waves for many minutes. Then we hear a roar behind us. The Queen looks towards the sky and we all follow her gaze. High in the sky, zooming towards us with a deafening roar is a formation of fighter jets! They are flying in the formation of the number 70 – marking her 70 years on the throne. They rush over us with a huge roar of engines. It is amazing how they can keep in the same tight formation as they fly by so quickly! Everyone waves their flags and cheers loudly. We hear another roar and turn to see another formation of jets, this time in an arrow formation. They whiz by us in a rush of air and exhaust and sound, streaming plumes of red, white, and blue smoke! The crowd goes crazy! How exciting! Next come an array of planes, jets, and helicopters filling the sky above the palace. What a glorious site. The crowd breaks into song, singing happy birthday to the Queen as she stands and waves at us all, beaming with pride and happiness.
Wow, what an amazing sight – and such a fun day!!! This has been the best party EVER!
But the party is now over and the Queen and her family go back inside the palace. It is time for us to leave as well. This has been a truly historic day because we will not see another woman on the throne of England for a long, long time. Next in line is Prince Charles, then Princes William and George. There will be many kings on the throne for years to come. We are very lucky to see Queen Elizabeth II and celebrate her Platinum Jubilee.
What do you think about Queen Elizabeth II? Would you like to be a king or queen of a country? If you were a ruler, what would you do to help your country? Is there a law you would like to pass to help other people? What country would you like to rule? Doing one job for 70 years is very hard. If you could do only one job for your entire life, what would you do?
A huge thanks to Susan Webb for writing this episode after her visit to England for Queen Elizabeth the 2nd’s platinum jubilee. Susan has written a book about Elizabeth’s father King George VI called Bertie: The Best Stuttering King. We bought a copy and read it as a family and sincerely enjoyed it. We recommend purchasing it on Amazon or The Book Patch.