Resplendent in a stunning emerald green outfit, the late Queen’s surprise appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony marked the joyous culmination of last year’s Platinum Jubilee.
Now a sensational new book by veteran royal correspondent Robert Jobson reveals Queen Elizabeth’s extraordinary effort to give a poignant ‘last salute’ to the tens of thousands of well-wishers who packed the Mall to celebrate her 70-year reign.
Serialised in the Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail, Our King reports how the 96-year-old Queen ‘didn’t feel strong enough’ to attend the final celebrations during last year’s historic four-day Jubilee weekend.
The book reveals that while the then Prince Charles was sympathetic to his mother’s increasing frailty, he also felt it important that she should acknowledge the vast crowds that had gathered in London and ‘implored her to make a massive effort.’
With the Queen’s agreement, arrangements were put in place for her to fly by helicopter from Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace and for her to use a wheelchair – although a meticulously orchestrated plan was put in place to ensure that she was not seen using it in public.
Arrangements were made to fly the Queen from Windsor to Buckingham Palace and to use a wheelchair – not seen by the public – so that she could make a public appearance
Pictures of an obviously delighted Queen walking gingerly out onto the balcony before waving to the jubilant crowd are among Platinum Jubilee’s most iconic images
‘On her insistence, a military-style exercise was put in place so that no one could see she was having to use a wheelchair,’ the book states.
‘In considerable discomfort, Her Majesty was taken by wheelchair to the helicopter pad at Windsor.
‘At the Palace, she was wheeled right up to the balcony doors, then helped to her feet so that she could stand – with the aid of a walking stick – alongside Charles and Camilla, plus William and his family.
‘After a firework display, the Queen smiled with delight. It was her last salute to her people.’
Pictures of an obviously delighted Queen walking gingerly out onto the balcony before waving to the jubilant crowd are among Platinum Jubilee’s most iconic images. She later issued a moving letter to the nation in which she declared: ‘My heart has been with you all.’
Her attendance at the triumphant finale of four days of festivities had, however, hung in the balance for days.
After joining her family on the balcony to witness a spectacular RAF fly-past on Thursday June 2, she was unable to attend a thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral the following day after suffering discomfort.
The service was dominated by the attendance of Prince Harry and Meghan, making their first joint royal appearance since quitting their duties.
The Queen was a no-show on the Saturday at the Epsom Derby and also did not attend that evening’s Party at the Palace – although her recorded sketch with Paddington Bear stole the show.
The Mail on Sunday revealed in March 2022 how Queen Elizabeth had made it clear that her presence at events of personal significance, such as the Commonwealth and Cenotaph services, should not come at any cost.
In particular, Palace aides were anxious not to replicate a photograph of the Queen’s late sister, Princess Margaret, in a wheelchair, six months before she died.
‘It’s a haunting image and not one the Queen remembers fondly,’ a source told this newspaper.
The Queen shared a sweet moment with her great-grandson Prince George on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the celebration of her Platinum Jubilee
The crowd gathered in front of Buckingham Palace cheer for 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, after finding the first day enjoyable but tiring, and in a message of thanks acknowledged this but said her ‘heart’ had been with well-wishers
Mr Jobson’s book also reveals that during the final years of their lives both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had seen Charles more often and grown close to him.
Once well-placed source says there was, in particular, a deepening of the relationship between Charles and his father.
‘Over the last year of Philip’s life, they were the closest that they had ever been,’ a member of Charles’s close circle of friends said.
The book tells that hours before Prince Philip’s death on April 9 2021, Charles had been at his father’s bedside talking about plans for the Duke’s 100th birthday. Although increasingly deaf, Philip displayed his trademark wry wit.
‘We are talking about your birthday, and whether there’s going to a reception,’ Charles said.
‘Well,’ his father replied, ‘I’ve got to be alive for it, haven’t I?’
‘I knew you’d say that!’ said Charles.
And these aren’t the only revelations from the new book.
It was divulged on Saturday the dis the walkabout in the wake of their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II’s, death last September was the ‘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 had told Harry early into his relationship with Meghan that he couldn’t afford to support them, stopped taking his son’s calls after he was sworn at 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 the four black-clad figures move slowly among the people paying their respects to her late majesty, few would have mistaken the slight tension between the couples as grief.
Prince William, who has been said to have been the ‘most upset’ member of the family after the publication of Prince Harry’s tell-all memoir in January, has long been keen to take swift action to contain the renegade royals.
He called a crisis meeting with his father, now the King, after the Sussexes’ bombshell interview with American television giant Oprah in March 2021. Memorably, the couple accused an anonymous senior royal of making a racist comment about the then unborn Archie.
The senior royals agreed not to see Prince Harry alone from that point on, perhaps marking the moment when trust was truly lost.
And his caution echoes the sentiments of his late grandmother who, while frustrated by the tension between the brothers even before Meghan burst on to the scene, found Prince Harry’s calls ‘difficult and wearisome’.
She would encourage him to speak with his father, but Charles, who had told Harry early into his relationship with Meghan that he couldn’t afford to support them, stopped taking his son’s calls after he was sworn at and asked for money.
When the Queen asked him why he wasn’t speaking to the Duke of Sussex, the then Prince of Wales explained that he wasn’t a bank.
And the Queen had her own concerns about the Duchess of Sussex.
While the Queen was delighted by Harry’s choice of a bride, Meghan’s rejection of wise counsel to speak to the then Countess of Wessex before her wedding must have worried the late monarch.
Even when later she would come to believe that Prince Harry’s love for his wife was ‘confounding his judgement’, the Queen was hopeful that he would return to the royal fold.
• Adapted from Our King: Charles III — The Man And The Monarch Revealed by Robert Jobson, to be published by John Blake on April 13 at £22. © Robert Jobson 2023. To order a copy for £18.70 (offer valid until May 9, 2023; UK P&P free on orders over £20), visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937.