Pomp and pageantry kicked off the final day of festivities celebrating the Queen’s 70-year reign as a ceremonial military procession launched the Platinum Jubilee Pageant.
Guardsmen, Gurkhas, Royal Marines and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in their breastplates and plumed feathers were among the hundreds of servicemen and women who led the way marching along the streets around Buckingham Palace.
The Queen was missing from the royal box but revellers hoping she would make a balcony appearance for the carnival’s finale were given a boost later when her royal standard was raised above Buckingham Palace indicating she was in residence.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were also absent for a second day running from the festivities, but the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis were seated for the street carnival extravaganza.
Thousands had gathered to watch the spectacle mirroring scenes from Saturday night when The Mall was filled with people delighted by Queen’s appearance with Paddington Bear at the Party at the Palace, and entertained by stars like Sir Elton John and Alicia Keys.
Charles spoke about the camaraderie the Jubilee celebrations have fostered, telling revellers at The Big Lunch’s flagship event in London he hoped “bickering” does not return after the feeling of “togetherness” across the nation.
His sentiment was echoed by Pageant Master Adrian Evans, who has spent 18 months planning the £15 million event, featuring some 10,000 people including a cast of 6,000 performers.
Mr Evans told BBC News: “I hope at the end of the day people will feel a great sense of pride in what they’ve seen, enjoyment in what they’ve seen, humour and joy is an important part of what we’re doing today but also connected, that we are much more connected then we think we are.”
The ambitious pageant was split into four acts: For Queen And Country with a military parade; The Time Of Our Lives progressing through seven decades of culture, music and fashion; Let’s Celebrate telling the story of the Queen’s life in 12 chapters with corgi puppets and carnival creations; and the Happy And Glorious musical spectacle.
The Gold State Coach, featuring archive footage of the Queen projected onto the windows, led the parade of military units and it seemed as if the monarch was sat in the carriage.
Among the sights were a peloton of 300 cyclists, riding vintage bikes from across the seven decades of the Queen’s reign, which travelled down The Mall led by Sir Chris Hoy and cycling golden couple Dame Laura and Sir Jason Kenny.
Mr Evans told Sky News: “What I wanted to do first and foremost was provide an opportunity for people to express themselves in their own wonderful, idiosyncratic, quirky way and that to the iconic streets around Buckingham Palace.”
Close to 200 national treasures will take to the stage to serenade the Queen, if she makes an appearance, by singing the national anthem at the grand finale of the Platinum Jubilee festivities.
Mr Evans told Sky News: “I hope it will be a great day, everyone’s very excited and it’s palpitating how excited everybody is today.
“It’s about participation. What I wanted to do first and foremost was provide an opportunity for people to express themselves in their own wonderful, idiosyncratic, quirky way and that to the iconic streets around Buckingham Palace.”
Charles took the salute of various military units when they passed the royal box and he stood to acknowledge the servicemen and women as they passed.
British eccentricity was soon to the fore when the cyclists on a menagerie of bikes rode past Buckingham Palace, including a biker dressed as the character Elliot from the sci-fi Movie ET, complete with the Extra Terrestrial in the cycle’s basket.
As the decades flashed by revellers in period 1940s clothes danced the Lambeth Walk and further down The Mall jiving performers represented the 1950s.
Interspersed were iconic vehicles from Morris Minors, rockers on classic motorbikes and Mods on scooters, while the national treasures – celebrities from across the years – travelled on buses.
Sir Cliff Richard sang from the 1950s bus, former boxer Chris Eubank posed from the open top-deck of another, and TV presenter Johnny Ball joked on the BBC about the experience on the 1970s bus: “It’s all right, but I’m worried I haven’t paid my fare”.