Platinum jubilee: crowds cheer UK royals at thanksgiving service

Prince Harry and Meghan join senior royals at St Paul's Cathedral in central London

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Thousands of royal fans erupted into rapturous cheers outside St Paul’s Cathedral in central London on Friday, as members of the royal family gathered to give thanks for Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign.

People who had travelled hundreds of kilometres to witness the historic platinum jubilee celebrations craned their necks to catch a glimpse of some of the royal entourage.

The high-profile event fell on the second day of the national commemorations for the queen's record-breaking reign.

The queen, 96, who is the only British monarch to reach 70 years on the throne, pulled out of the service after experiencing “discomfort” at the Trooping the Colour celebration on Thursday.

Two members of a military guard of honour collapsed while they waited to welcome members of the British royal family and other guests at St Paul's

Prince Charles, his wife Camilla, Prince William and his wife Kate were among nearly 40 members of the royal family to attend.

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge is said to have told one of the people attending a post-service reception that the queen had a “lovely” time on Thursday but found the day “very tiring”. Gill Smallwood from Bolton met the duchess at the event in London's Guildhall and asked how the monarch was doing.

“[Kate] said, ‘yes, she was fine, it was just very tiring yesterday, and [the queen] had had a lovely, lovely time’,” Ms Smallwood said.

While senior royals were given a warm welcome by fans gathered outside the cathedral, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s entrance was marked by a mixture of boos and cheers.

The arrival of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan after a family reconciliation sparked cheers from waiting well-wishers. However, when the couple left from the cathedral following the service, some bystanders booed them while others whooped in support.

Sitting alongside her husband in the back seat of a Range Rover, Meghan beamed at the awaiting crowds and waved as she was whisked away.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex flew to the UK from the home in California this week with their two children, Archie, three, and Lilibet, who will turn one on Saturday. The queen is understood to have met her great-granddaughter Lilibet for the first time at Windsor Castle on Thursday.

It was the first time Harry and Meghan had been on full public view alongside fellow members of the royal family since they quit the monarchy for a new life in the US two years ago.

Len and Myra Ellis travelled almost 300 kilometres from their home in Chester, north-west England, to take part in the jubilee celebrations.

It was a family affair for the couple, who brought along their daughter, son-in-law and two young grandchildren. Mr Ellis said attending such a high-profile royal event would help ingrain in his grandchildren’s minds the importance of the British monarch.

“It’s a momentous occasion, it’s never happened before and I don’t think it will happen again,” Mr Ellis told The National. “It’s something to remember.

“The queen has got the nation in her heart and she puts the nation before everything. Her job as queen comes first. Even during Covid she gave a message to the British people to say everything’s going to be alright, we will get back to normal.”

“This is history,” his wife chimed in. “We can say we were here and it’s wonderful. The queen is continuing her service and she has never put a foot wrong.”

Len and Myra Ellis from Chester with their grandchildren stand outside St Paul's Cathedral in London on Friday, where a service of thanksgiving was held for Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee. The National

Mary Anne Shorrock, who was born in 1951, the year before the queen ascended the throne told The National she was thrilled to see the royals in person.

“It was amazing,” said the royal superfan, who has previously seen the queen and Princess Diana carrying out public engagements. “It’s going out of fashion for the younger generation to admire the royal family and it’s a shame.”

Her daughter, Joanne Shorrock, said she felt compelled to make the 370-kilometre journey from Lancashire to London to claim a front-row seat for the historic occasion in honour of the queen.

The mother and daughter, accompanied by their friend, Stacey Jones, were among those who gathered under the early morning sun outside the cathedral to secure a good vantage point.

Ms Jones said she considered the queen a true inspiration due to the sense of continuity she has brought to the monarchy with her seven-decade reign.

“She stands for traditional values but she has also had to adapt,” said Ms Jones. “I admire her for being hardworking — she's just wonderful.”

Royal fans Mary Anne Shorrock, left, her daughter Joanne Shorrock and friend Stacey Jones, near St Paul's Cathedral in central London on Friday to watch the royal family attend a platinum jubilee service of thanksgiving. Photo: The National

Lisa Stewart and Jess Wightman were another mother and daughter who turned up outside St Paul's to show their respects for the queen's service.

The pair had travelled 120 kilometres from Kettering, Northamptonshire, on Wednesday to attend the jubilee celebrations in London and were among the tens of thousands who lined The Mall to watch Trooping the Colour on Thursday.

They pulled out all the stops for the occasion, donning jeans and jackets decorated with royal symbols and carried Union Jack flags.

“Just think what the royal family have done for this country's economy today, especially in London,” Ms Stewart told The National. “They have helped it and we just love them.”

Ms Wightman said she would like to see more of Britain's younger generations brought up to admire the royal family and appreciate their service to the country.

“At The Mall yesterday, there were a lot more older people than younger people,” she said. “It's a shame that young people were not bothered [to turn up]. I admire the queen for her hard work, responsibility and because she keeps on going and has not given up. I think she's brilliant.”

Senior royals will continue with the platinum jubilee celebrations on Saturday at the Epsom Derby.

The palace announced on Friday that the queen would not attend the horse racing event but would tune into the action on TV from Windsor Castle.

Updated: June 03, 2022, 5:20 PM