Dazzling in a stunning emerald green outfit, the surprise appearance of the late Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace marked the joyous climax of last year’s Platinum Jubilee.
Now a sensational new book by veteran royal correspondent Robert Jobson reveals Queen Elizabeth’s extraordinary effort to deliver a poignant “final salute” to the tens of thousands of well-wishers who packed the Mall to celebrate her 70-year reign.
Our King, published in the Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail, reports how the 96-year-old Queen ‘didn’t feel strong enough’ to attend final celebrations over last year’s historic four-day anniversary weekend.
The book reveals that while the then Prince Charles was sympathetic to his mother’s increasing vulnerability, he also thought it important that she acknowledge the huge crowd that had gathered in London and “begged her to make a huge effort” .
With the Queen’s agreement, arrangements were made for her to be flown by helicopter from Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace and to use a wheelchair – although there was a carefully orchestrated plan to ensure she was not seen in public with it. .
Arrangements were made to fly the Queen from Windsor to Buckingham Palace and use a wheelchair – not visible to the public – so she could appear in public
Photos of a clearly elated Queen gingerly stepping onto the balcony before waving to the jubilant crowd are among Platinum Jubilee’s most iconic images
“At her insistence, a military-style exercise was arranged so that no one could see that she had to use a wheelchair,” the book reads.
‘It was with great discomfort that Her Majesty was taken by wheelchair to the helipad at Windsor.
‘In the palace she was wheeled up to the balcony doors and then helped to her feet so that she could stand – with the help of a cane – next to Charles and Camilla, plus William and his family.
After a fireworks display, the Queen smiled delightedly. It was her last salute to her people.’
Shots of a clearly delighted queen carefully walking onto the balcony before waving to the jubilant crowd are among the most iconic images from Platinum Jubilee. She later sent a moving letter to the nation declaring, “My heart has been with all of you.”
However, her participation in the triumphant final of four days of celebration had been on the line for days.
After joining her family on the balcony to witness a spectacular RAF fly-past on Thursday 2 June, she was unable to attend a thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral the following day due to discomfort.
The service was dominated by the presence of Prince Harry and Meghan, who made their first joint royal appearance since leaving office.
The Queen did not show up for Saturday’s Epsom Derby, nor did she attend that night’s party at the Palace – although her taped sketch with Paddington Bear stole the show.
The Mail on Sunday revealed in March 2022 how Queen Elizabeth had made it clear that her attendance at events of personal importance, such as the Commonwealth and Cenotaph services, was not at all costs.
Palace officials, in particular, would not take a picture of the Queen’s late sister, Princess Margaret, in a wheelchair six months before she died.
“It’s a terrifying image and not one that the Queen looks back on fondly,” a source told this newspaper.
The Queen shared a sweet moment with her great-grandson Prince George on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as she celebrated her Platinum Anniversary
Crowds gathered in front of Buckingham Palace cheering Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, waving from the balcony of the palace at the end of the Platinum Pageant in London on June 5, 2022
The 96-year-old monarch was absent for much of the extended Bank Holiday weekend, having found the first day enjoyable but exhausting, and in a message of thanks she acknowledged this but said her “heart” had been with the well-wishers.
Mr Jobson’s book also reveals that both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had seen Charles more often during the last years of their lives and had grown close to him.
At one time, a well-placed source says that there was a deepening in the relationship between Charles and his father in particular.
“During the last year of Philip’s life, they were the closest they had ever been,” said a member of Charles’ close circle of friends.
The book tells that hours before Prince Philip’s death on April 9, 2021, Charles sat at his father’s bedside to discuss plans for the Duke’s 100th birthday. Although growing deaf, Philip showed his trademark wry humor.
“We’re talking about your birthday and whether you’re going to a reception,” Charles said.
‘Well,’ replied his father, ‘I have to live for it, don’t I?’
“I knew you’d say that!” Charles said.
And these are not the only revelations from the new book.
It was revealed on Saturday during the walkabout in the wake of their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, the death last September was “one of the hardest things” the Princess of Wales had ever had to do.
Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince William, Prince of Wales, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on the long walk at Windsor Castle to greet well-wishers
King Charles, who told Harry early in his relationship with Meghan that he couldn’t afford to support them, stopped taking his son’s calls after he was sworn in and asked for money. Pictured: Meghan, a then Prince Charles, and Harry on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on June 9, 2018
As the rest of the world watched as the four black-clad figures slowly moved among the people paying their respects to the late Her Majesty, few would have mistaken the slight tension between the couples for grief.
Prince William, who is said to have been the “most upset” member of the family following the publication of Prince Harry’s memoirs in January, has long wanted swift action to contain the renegade royals.
He called a crisis meeting with his father, now the king, following the Sussexes’ super interview with American television giant Oprah in March 2021. Memorably, the couple accused an anonymous senior royal of making a racist remark about the then-unborn Archie.
The senior royals agreed not to see Prince Harry alone from then on, perhaps marking the moment when trust was truly lost.
And his caution mirrors the feelings of his late grandmother who, while frustrated by the tension between the brothers even before Meghan arrived, found Prince Harry’s calls “difficult and exhausting.”
She would encourage him to talk to his father, but Charles, who had told Harry early in his relationship with Meghan that he couldn’t afford to support them, stopped taking his son’s calls after he was sworn in and asked for money.
When asked by the Queen why he did not speak to the Duke of Sussex, the then Prince of Wales explained that he was not a banker.
And the Queen had her own concerns about the Duchess of Sussex.
While the Queen was delighted with Harry’s choice of bride, Meghan’s rejection of sage advice to speak to the then Countess of Wessex before her wedding must have worried the late monarch.
Even as she later came to believe that Prince Harry’s love for his wife “muddled his judgment,” the Queen hoped he would return to the royal fold.
• Adapted from Our King: Charles III — The Man And The Monarch Revealed by Robert Jobson, published by John Blake on April 13 for £22. © Robert Jobson 2023. To order a copy for £18.70 (offer valid until 9 May 2023; UK postage free on orders over £20), visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937.