Queen Elizabeth II couldn’t be there in person because of mobility problems, but she was very much present in spirit Saturday, as rappers, rock stars and a very famous bear sent Her Majesty their best wishes from a giant stage outside Buckingham Palace as part of the “Platinum Party at the Palace.”
Royal guests of honor included Prince Charles and wife Camilla, Prince William and Kate Middleton, Princess Anne, with her husband and her children, Prince Edward and wife Sophie, and Prince Andrew’s daughters Beatrice and Eugenie. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were absent.
The event opened, in scenes that recalled the famous 2012 James Bond London Olympics sketch, with a televised skit featuring Paddington Bear.
The short film opened with footage of a footman taking two tea cups on a tray to a table in Buckingham Palace and setting them in front of Paddington and the queen.
Paddington declared: “Thank you for having me, I do hope you are having a lovely jubilee.”
Paddington then offered to pour Her Majesty’s tea with predictably chaotic results, which included placing a paw on a cream bun which sprayed its filling all over a footman played by Simon Farnaby, the actor and writer who co-wrote Paddington 2 and is understood to have written the sketch.
Paddington then offered the queen a marmalade sandwich from underneath his hat before the queen opened her handbag and produced one of her own, telling Paddington: “I keep mine in here.”
Paddington then said: “Happy Jubilee Ma’am. And thank you for everything.”
The monarch replied, simply: “That’s very kind.”
The two-and-a-half minute clip ended with Farnaby moving to the window and saying: “The party is about to start your majesty.”
The queen and the bear then started tapping out the beat of the band Queen’s We Will Rock You on a china teacup, which then meshed with the same song being played live as the opening track of the concert.
The sketch was kept so completely secret that even Her Majesty’s children and grandchildren were said to have been taken by surprise.
A palace spokesman said: “Her Majesty is well known for her sense of humor, so it should be no surprise that she decided to take part in tonight’s sketch. There was an interest in the filming and animation process and the opportunity to invite a famous bear to tea was just too much fun to miss.”
A series of tributes to Her Majesty were interspersed throughout the concert, with Daniel Craig saying he would “follow you anywhere,” and Michelle Obama thanking the queen for her “genuine warmth” to herself and her children, and saying she was “deeply honored to have spent time with you over the years.”
Towards the end of the concert, Prince Charles took to the stage with Camilla by his side.He began by saying, “Your Majesty,” followed by a long and dramatic pause before adding, wryly, “Mummy.”
He said the celebrations of the weekend were her family, the country, the commonwealth and “the whole world’s” way of saying “thank you.”
He remembered his father Prince Philip, saying he would have enjoyed the show and was “much-missed this evening, but I’m sure he’s here in spirit.”
Charles said, “What really gets my mother up in the morning is all of you, ladies and gentlemen, all of you watching at home, represented here tonight in this great audience.” He spoke of the queen’s role in celebrating moments of national, “pride, joy and happiness.” He said, “You (the queen) have met us and talked with us. You have laughed and cried with us.”
Referring to the Paddington sketch with which the concert had opened, Charles said that his mother would by now have “finished her marmalade sandwich” and spoke of her “immense regret” she could not be there, but saying that Windsor Castle was “barely 20 miles away” he urged the crowd to cheer loud enough for the monarch to hear.
Prince William took to the stage after a sequence focusing on environmental issues spearheaded by the great British naturalist Sir David Attenborough.
Referring to Charles and to the late Prince Philip he said he was “so proud of my grandfather and father,” for their work in the field. He added, “While no one’s grandmother thanks them for talking about their age, my own grandmother has been alive for nearly a century. In that time mankind has benefited from unimaginable technological developments.”
He said that the “pressing need to protect and restore our planet has never been more urgent.” William said he, like the queen, was an “optimist” and praised young people for refusing to “accept the status quo” and working to “restore the planet” and said they would be able to say, “What a wonderful world.”
Elton John, who famously played “Candle in the Wind” at Diana’s funeral played, via a pre-recorded video, his classic 1971 tune, “Your Song.”
The concert was due to be headlined by Diana Ross. Lin-Manuel Miranda introduced a Hamilton sequence with a riff on one of the most famous songs from that musical, singing: “You say, everyone is getting a bank holiday…”
Saturday saw a flurry of royal activity as the queen’s family fanned out across the country to represent the 96-year-old monarch. Due to a recurrence of what the palace calls her “episodic mobility problems,” the queen herself was unable to make a public appearance.
Her grand-daughter Zara Tindall was at the famous horse race The Derby with her mother Princess Anne, 71, who was representing the queen. Zara, 41, raised smiles when she said that her grandmother was “well” adding: “She’ll just be sat on the sofa watching the TV. She’ll be in her comfy clothes.”
The big showstoppers of the day were, however, the Cambridge children: Charlotte and George visited Cardiff with their parents William and Kate (although new royal superstar Prince Louis did not attend).
Other guests at the concert include Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys, Hans Zimmer, Ella Eyre, Craig David, Mabel, Elbow and George Ezra. Duran Duran, Andrea Bocelli, Mimi Webb, Sam Ryder, Jax Jones, Celeste, Nile Rodgers, Sir Rod Stewart, and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.