London rocks for the queen | Inquirer News

London rocks for the queen

/ 02:38 AM June 06, 2012

Fireworks light up the stage at the end of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace in London on June 4, 2012. The star-studded musical extravaganza comes on the third of four days of celebrations to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL

LONDON—Elton John sang “I’m Still Standing,” Stevie Wonder crooned “Isn’t She Lovely,” and Paul McCartney belted out “All My Loving” as musical royalty celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s 60-year reign with a fireworks-filled concert outside Buckingham Palace.

The Beatles star closed the diamond jubilee show in style with a blazing rendition of “Live And Let Die” and a mass singalong of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” as hundreds of thousands of revelers turned the heart of London into a sea of Union Jack flags.


Prince Charles gave a touching tribute to his “mummy” and led the giant crowd in sending three cheers to the queen to mark her 60th year on the throne.


The 86-year-old monarch gave a beaming smile and waved to the crowds, who had danced through a three-hour show that featured a full hand of knights—McCartney, John, Cliff Richard and Tom Jones, all “Sirs”—along with Dame Shirley Bassey, Stevie Wonder and younger artists including JLS and Kylie Minogue.

“We offer you our humble duty and with it three resounding cheers for Her Majesty the Queen. Hip hip, hooray!” said Charles, the heir to the British throne. The queen smiled as the crowd carried on shouting “hooray!”

McCartney had guests in the royal box on their feet as he ended the night with “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Let It Be” before the fireworks finale.

Joking, he said the queen had asked for people to leave the show in an orderly fashion, “or she will be forced to unleash the corgis,” her beloved dogs.

Queen arrives

The queen drew wild cheers as she arrived during the second half of the show, wearing a gold lame cocktail dress under a black cape. Charles escorted the queen to her seat in the royal box.


It was earlier decided that the queen would watch only part of the concert.  The queen, who is not a noted pop music fan, appeared to be wearing a discreet pair of yellow earplugs.

The queen was without husband Prince Philip, who until Monday had been her constant companion throughout the jubilee celebrations.  Philip, who will turn 91 on Sunday, was taken on Monday to London’s King Edward VII Hospital for a bladder infection.

Staged on Queen Victoria Memorial, the show kicked off in warm evening sunshine with pyrotechnics and an opening salvo from a military band, resplendent in their scarlet tunics and bearskin hats.

A high-octane rendition by Take That singer Robbie Williams of his hit “Let Me Entertain You” got the crowd rocking. Black Eyed Peas star then performed “I Gotta Feeling” with songstress Jessie J.

The Mall, the ceremonial route to the palace, was filled with revelers decked out in red, white and blue enjoying the gig on giant screens. The crowd was told the concert was being watched live by 250,000 people.

Despite Philip’s illness, many members of the royal family, including Charles’ wife Camilla, watched the show from a royal box, together with Prime Minister David Cameron and Anglican leader Rowan Williams.

Something for everyone

In true something-for-everyone mode, performances ranged from Chinese pianist Lang Lang playing Gershwin to American soprano Renee Fleming to 64-year-old Grace Jones in a sultry plastic outfit hula-hooping her way through “Slave to the Rhythm.”

It was the veteran entertainers who went down best. The crowd roared along to “Congratulations” by 71-year-old Cliff Richards, who also performed a medley of his songs from throughout the queen’s reign.

Prince Harry could be seen singing along—“Why, why why?”—as Tom Jones rounded off the first half with a Latin-themed version of “Delilah,” while Prince William and his wife Catherine joined in on “Crocodile Rock” by Elton John, who came in a sparkling pink jacket.

After Williams returned to open the second half, the next performance featured artists from across the Commonwealth with their rendition of “Sing,” a jubilee song written by concert organizer Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Following a crowd wave from the back of The Mall to the front, Welsh diva Bassey sang—fittingly—“Diamonds are Forever” before Australian star Minogue took to the stage.

Cult ska band Madness performed “Our House” from the roof of Buckingham Palace, with colorful projections on the palace front below. Images from the queen’s reign dating back to her 1953 coronation were beamed onto the walls as the orchestra played U2’s “Beautiful Day.”

US star Stevie Wonder added new words to his song “Superstition,” getting the crowds dancing to the lyrics: “We’re celebrating, the diamond jubilee.”

‘A compassionate lady’

Australian artist Rolf Harris told the crowd: “We’re here to celebrate a generous and compassionate lady who has given 60 years of service to the people of Great Britain and the Commonwealth.”

“She’s been an inspiration to millions; she’s touched hearts throughout the world—a living testimony to the power of kindness, dedication, tolerance and loyalty,” Harris added.

“A lady who has upheld the best of British by keeping calm and carrying on … Your Majesty, we thank you for 60 wonderful years.”

McCartney closed the concert playing “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” on a Union Jack guitar before the queen took to the stage with her family.

Charles encouraged concertgoers to make some noise for his father. The queen seemed touched when the crowd responded with a roar and chants of “Philip.”

Philip, who married then Princess Elizabeth in 1947, has cut back on official engagements in recent years but still maintains a busy schedule. He spent four nights in the hospital over Christmas after suffering chest pains and underwent a successful coronary stent procedure to clear a blocked artery.

The palace said Philip was “understandably, disappointed about missing this evening’s diamond jubilee concert,” as well as a St. Paul’s Cathedral service and other jubilee events planned for Tuesday.

“I’m very sorry he’s going to miss the concert because he’s really part of the celebration,” said Marielle Demorsce, a Canadian tourist. “He’s part of the 60 years, he’s put in a lot of work with the queen to appear all over the world and we love him too so very much.”

A sense of pride

The jubilee was being marked around the world by the 54-nation Commonwealth of former British colonies.

At the end of the concert, the queen lit the last in a chain of more than 4,200 commemorative beacons that have been set alight in Britain and abroad.

One beacon was lit in Kenya at the Treetops Hotel, where Elizabeth was informed of her father’s death in 1952, making her the queen.

Although not everyone has embraced the jubilee—antimonarchists have protested and some 2 million Britons used the four-day holiday weekend to leave the country—many said it gave them a sense of pride.

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“Sixty years on the throne is a remarkable achievement,” said 47-year-old Dean Caston, who joined the crowds outside the palace on Monday. “People knock Britain and how depressed we are, but this weekend you can see we have got a lot to be proud of.” Reports from AP and AFP

TAGS: Britain, jubilee, London, Royals

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