Queen Elizabeth II’s reign: 60 years of milestones
The death of Diana in an August 31, 1997, car accident in Paris brings the lowest point of the queen’s reign. Amid a huge outpouring of public grief for her troublesome ex-daughter-in-law, the queen is widely criticized for an apparent reluctance to return to London from her home in Scotland, and over her initial hesitancy to publicly comment. Under public pressure _ and after then-Prime Minister Tony Blair makes an emotional tribute to Diana _ the queen ditches royal protocol and makes a television broadcast urging the nation to unite in its grief.
In 2002, the queen marks 50 years on the throne with a national celebration of her Golden Jubilee that sees street parties, a pop concert at Buckingham Palace and a spectacular parade through central London. Making a rare speech, the queen reflects on the progress Britain had made since the end of World War II and the gloomy national outlook at the beginning of her reign. “Anyone who can remember what things were like after those six long years of war, appreciates what immense changes have been achieved since then,” she says.
A NEW ROYAL GENERATION
At Westminster Abbey, the queen sees her grandson Prince William marry Kate Middleton in an April 29, 2011, ceremony that brings a revival of the monarchy’s popularity in Britain. A television audience estimated at two billion people watches live as Kate curtsies before the queen, and the monarch joins the couple on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, as they kiss before cheering crowds.
A flotilla of 1,000 boats sails along the River Thames in a colorful waterborne pageant to mark the queen’s 60th year as monarch. The queen braves downpours of rain to take in the festivities during four days of celebrations, though she is spotted with earplugs at a raucous pop concert outside her Buckingham Palace home. However, amid the festivities, her husband Prince Philip is hospitalized with a minor complaint, a reminder of the couple’s advancing years.