Queen Elizabeth facing same Jubilee struggle as Queen Victoria: ‘Strikingly familiar’

Queen pulls out of State Opening of Parliament

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On Monday, it was confirmed that the Queen would not be attending the State Opening of Parliament due to “episodic mobility issues”. It is the first time the monarch will miss the key state event in almost 60 years. Prince Charles and Prince William are attending in place of the Queen, marking Charles’ first time opening Parliament, and William’s first time at a State Opening. 

The Queen’s absence has raised more questions about whether the monarch will manage to attend the Platinum Jubilee celebrations next month. 

In order to maximise the monarch’s comfort, Her Majesty will not be using the gold state coach as it leads the Platinum Jubilee Pageant procession on the final day of the special Bank Holiday weekend. 

Instead, she will travel by car to the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, arriving at an easier entrance than the Great West Door. 

Concerns surrounding the logistics of the Jubilee weekend are “strikingly familiar” to the weeks leading up to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, one royal expert has claimed.

Much like our current Queen, Victoria was suffering from mobility issues by the time she reached the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne. 

At the age of 76, the Widow of Windsor was virtually immobile due to her arthritic hips.

Christopher Joll, a former officer in The Life Guards, turned author and military historian, explains that the problem of how Victoria would get into St Paul’s Cathedral had planners stumped for weeks. 

Writing for the Telegraph on Tuesday, Mr Joll said: “The problem of how to get Queen Victoria out of her carriage and into St Paul’s Cathedral in a dignified way vexed the planners for weeks. 

“They even considered unhitching the eight Royal Hanoverian creams that would be pulling the Queen’s open State Landau, then having it hauled up a ramp into the Cathedral by a party of sailors.”

However, this idea was rejected and it was decided that the service would be held outside at the foot of St Paul’s West steps. 

A dazzling procession travelled from Buckingham Palace to St Paul’s Cathedral. 

Leading was the Colonial Procession, who departed from the Palace at 9am. 

This was followed by the Queen’s Procession, a 17-carriage convoy carrying members of the Royal Family and leaders of Britain’s dominions. 

Victoria —  in perpetual mourning for her beloved husband, Prince Albert, and two of her children — dressed in black relieved by panels of grey satin under black lace. 

She was accompanied by one of her daughters, Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, and the Princess of Wales.

Their lavishly-decorated route was lined shoulder-to-shoulder by 20,000 troops, holding back the hundreds of thousands of spectators, some of whom had spent the night waiting to get a glimpse of the Queen. 

Mr Joll points out the “sheer size” of the spectacular parade, writing: “Queen Victoria’s carriage only left Buckingham Palace at 11.15am, two-and-a-half hours after the leading horsemen of the Colonial Procession had set off from outside the palace.”

Upon their arrival at St Paul’s, the Queen was greeted by crowds of well-wishers packed on specially erected bleachers and surrounding rooftops. 

The Queen remained in her carriage for the duration of the 20-minute ceremony. 

Mr Joll wrote that the outdoor service attracted “considerable criticism”.

He explained that Victoria’s cousin, the Grand Duchess Augusta of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wrote in outrage to her niece, the future Queen Mary: “No! That out of door Service before St Paul’s! Has one ever heard of such a thing!”.

Following the service, the procession embarked on the return leg of its six-mile route. 

It travelled over London Bridge, and then along Borough High Street and St George’s Circus to Westminster Bridge. 

Passing along Whitehall and through Horse Guards Arch (by tradition the ceremonial front gate to the royal palaces), it then crossed Horse Guards Parade, into The Mall and so on to Buckingham Palace.

In her journal, Queen Victoria called it “a never to be forgotten day.”

She wrote: “No one ever I believe, has met with such an ovation as was given to me, passing through those six miles of streets.

“The crowds were quite indescribable and their enthusiasm truly marvellous and deeply touching. 

“The cheering was quite deafening, and every face seemed to be filled with real joy. I was much moved and gratified.”

Although Victoria’s Service of Thanksgiving set a precedent for future Jubilee celebrations, it is not one that is being followed this year. 

Mr Joll explained that the decision not to have a Platinum Jubilee Procession to escort the current Queen to and from St Paul’s, is in part because of “Britain’s severely depleted Armed Forces”. 

Queen Elizabeth will be driven via the most direct route from Buckingham Palace to St Paul’s and back. 

The monarch’s mobility issues stretch back to last autumn and have led to her cancelling multiple major engagements. 

In October 2021, she used a walking stick at a Westminster Abbey service marking the centenary of the Royal British Legion — the first time she had done so at a major public event. 

A week later, the Queen had her first overnight stay in hospital for eight years.

Since then, many of her royal duties have been conducted from her home or virtually via video call. 

In February, she tested positive for Covid and suffered from mild cold-like symptoms, but said the virus left her “very tired and exhausted”.

But Her Majesty rallied to attend the Service of Thanksgiving for Prince Philip at the end of March, walking to the front of the Abbey with the aid of a stick and holding onto the arm of her son, Prince Andrew.  

With her absence from the State Opening of Parliament today, questions of how involved the monarch will be in her Platinum Jubilee celebrations remain. 

Events during the busy four-day weekend include a pop concert, the Service of Thanksgiving, a pageant, the Derby at Epsom racecourse and Trooping the Colour. 

It has been indicated that the Queen’s attendance will not be confirmed until the day in question. 

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