|The queue snaked all away around the park.|
|This was the view of Buckingham Palace from our seats.|
It would have been difficult not to get swept up by the atmosphere in any case, with or without the Englishman’s succinct pep talk. The crowds, most dressed in Union Jack themed outfits, majority waving flags, all cheerful in spite of the cold and (later) rainy weather, patiently waited for their Queen to appear. To make the hours pass quickly, the crowds in the stands extracted fun from such simple things as watching Queen’s Guards arrange themselves at equal distance along the Queen Victoria Memorial to line the route the Royal family would later take in their open top-top carriages. Before that we’d cheered each Horse Guard, each Royal Marines band, and replied in kind to a couple of policewomen waving flags at the crowd.
|The Household Cavalry were very impressive.|
|These ladies had the right idea: lots of Union Jack motifs and the practicality of warm and water proof jackets!|
|Wasn’t this lady stylish in her Union Jack dress?|
|More military bands…|
|I think this lady had been to an event like this before: she was well prepared for the long wait.|
|The Queen’s Guards kept the crowd entertained, although I don’t think that was their actual brief.|
|The large screens to our left showed us the open top carriages were on their way to the Palace.|
Then excitement nearly spilled over when the open-top carriages carrying the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla in one, Princes William and Harry and Kate in another, rode past. Although they were so fast I hardly got to see the occupants!
|Prince William, Kate and Price Harry. Really, look closely and you’ll see they are there.|
When at last we saw the line of policemen move the crowds from Pall Mall towards the palace, we knew it was nearly time. But just watching the thousands of people, most dressed in red, blue and white, waving flags of various sizes, move slowly around the Queen Victoria Memorial was in itself a spectacle. The theory that crowds behave exactly like water certainly seemed true. The people even swirled like water when they came through the narrow passage between the two stands, slowly moving to either side of the central memorial, and then deciding to join either stream around the memorial. And everyone was so jolly – there was no trouble, just good humoured waving and cheering.
|The crowds led in by a line of Bobbies from Pall Mall.|
As I sat there watching all the flags being frantically waved and the people enthusiastically chanting, I realised the real reason I love all this pomp and circumstance is the Englishman’s former career in the Royal Navy. I have an acute sense of nostalgia for the marching bands, for the official protocol that an occasion such as a Diamond Jubilee celebration demands. It was a similar kind of world I first entered when I came to England all those years ago. Although obviously not mixing with Royals, there were a lot of official Royal Navy cocktail parties and balls, Remembrance Day services and officer’s mess dinners, with each meal ending up with a toast to the Queen.
|The Royal Family on the balcony. Again if you look closely enough..|
But as I said before, I’d never seen the Queen IRL (in real life). When she, together with Prince Charles and Camilla, and Prince William and Kate, appeared on the balcony, they took my breath away. I was then very glad indeed I’d decided to enter that ballot. With the gun salute ringing behind us, the Queen waved, and I waved back.
|The Red Arrows.|
|Flags galore as we san God Save the Queen.|