Members of Britain’s royal family arrived at St Paul’s Cathedral in London for a jubilee thanksgiving service on Friday in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign.
However, the 96-year-old monarch was forced to skip the occasion after experiencing “some discomfort” Thursday while watching the celebrations kick off with the Trooping the Colour parade. Prince Charles is representing the Queen at the thanksgiving service.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Thursday evening that the Queen had “greatly enjoyed” the Platinum Jubilee’s opening events and made the decision to miss Friday’s service “with great reluctance” after “taking into account the journey and activity required to participate.”
The monarch will watch the thanksgiving service on television from Windsor Castle, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson told CNN Friday.
The Queen made two appearances on the Buckingham Palace balcony Thursday to the delight of thousands of flag-waving supporters below.
Her son Prince Andrew is another notable absence on Friday after testing positive for coronavirus.
More than 400 people from all four nations of the United Kingdom have been invited to the event recognizing the Queen’s lifetime of service. The congregation includes key workers, teachers and public servants as well as representatives from the Armed Forces, charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups, according to Buckingham Palace. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and London Mayor Sadiq Khan are also among those in the audience.
The service is a chance for the royals to come together in recognition of the much-loved matriarch.
“Yesterday it was one big party, one big spectacular, fabulous, party, with a flypast and the amazing tribute to the armed service. But today is much more solemn,” said CNN royal historian Kate Williams.
The event is the first time the public will be able to get a good glimpse of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who have flown over from the US for the jubilee celebrations. The couple also attended the Trooping the Colour ceremony on Thursday, but kept a low profile in what was their first joint outing at a royal event in two years by watching proceedings from the Major General’s Office overlooking Horse Guards Parade.
Harry and Meghan did not join other royal family members for the traditional balcony appearance following the parade as the Queen decided last month that only working royals would be invited to that moment.
While Trooping the Colour celebrated the Queen’s official birthday, it also served as a curtain-raiser for her four-day jubilee weekend. Festivities will also include a concert at the palace on Saturday and a pageant on Sunday.
The theme of Friday morning’s event, formally called “The National Service of Thanksgiving to Celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen,” is public service. The Dean of St Paul’s, David Ison, is leading the service, which will include Bible readings, prayers and congregational hymns to honor the Queen’s 70 years on the British throne.
Johnson will deliver a reading from the New Testament while the sermon will be given by the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell.
St Paul’s marked the occasion by ringing its church bell – the biggest in the United Kingdom, weighing more than 16 tons. Friday’s event is the first royal occasion at which it rung out since its restoration in 2021.
After the service concludes, the Lord Mayor of London, Vincent Keaveny, will host a reception for the royal family and their guests at Guildhall, where the local government headquarters is located. Keaveny leads London’s financial district, known as the Square Mile.
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