Associated Press Photos: Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee

LONDON ( Associated Press) — Spectacular military parades, street parties across the country, drone and light shows at Buckingham Palace, and a surprise appearance by Queen Elizabeth II chatting with Paddington Bear. The four-day celebration of the Platinum Jubilee has been a long party that demonstrated the extraordinary popularity of Her Highness after 70 years on the throne.

Britain’s longest-reigning monarch made only three brief appearances during the long weekend dedicated to celebrating her years of service. But the queen’s absence did not dampen the party atmosphere in the nation, with millions turning out for patriotic street revels, barbecues and picnics in their towns and cities.

The four days of celebration began and ended with greetings from the 96-year-old queen from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, one on Thursday and the second on Sunday, at the end of a huge parade.

Crowds erupted in cheers as the queen smiled and waved along with other senior members of the royal family after the Trooping the Color military parade on the first day.

She then attended a ceremonial lighting at Windsor Castle that night, but these brief appearances left her exhausted and the queen was unable to attend the thanksgiving mass offered for her at St Paul’s Cathedral the next day. .

The queen, who has curtailed her public appearances in recent months due to mobility problems, also missed the prestigious Epsom Derby horse race and a pop concert held outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday.

However, he charmed the country when he starred with Paddington Bear, in a computer-animated version, in a sweet video shown at the beginning of the concert. In the clip, the queen shares afternoon tea with her furry character, revealing that she has a jam sandwich stashed in her famous black bag.

The concert, headlined by Diana Ross, the rock band Queen and other artists, enchanted 22,000 attendees and had drones flying over the palace that drew a giant corgi dog in the sky and a teapot.

Tens of thousands of people packed The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace for the climax of the festivities, which saw a huge colorful parade through central London on Sunday.

The golden carriage, which carried the queen for her coronation in 1953, led the procession. A hologram of Elizabeth, as she appeared 69 years ago, peered from the carriage windows, a stark reminder of how young Elizabeth was when she ascended the throne.

After this, 6,000 artists told the story of the queen’s life followed by a parade of vintage cars, double-decker buses, a giant wedding cake and huge puppets.

The crowd sang “God Save The Queen” and the queen made her second appearance on the balcony, joined by heirs in line to the throne and future queen consorts.

It was a final image that prepared the country for the future of the monarchy.

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