After a wet Sunday on the river, it was time for the Jubilee Concert. I had heard the drifting sound of music in the air all weekend as the bands rehearsed on the giant sound stage set up at The Queen Victoria Memorial Fountain outside Buckingham Palace.
Mastermind of the three-hour BBC produced musical extravaganza Gary Barlow promised Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Sir Elton John. It also promised to possibly be a rainy night on the Mall.
The crowds were already flooding the park before noon staking out their spots with flags and blankets. The 10,000 grandstand tickets had been awarded ages ago by a national ballot. Those lucky sods also got a picnic in the Buckingham Palace Gardens. These additional attendees were people outside the inner fence trying to get a good view of the big screens set up down the Mall and in St. James’s Park.
The best part of the morning was Stevie Wonder rehearsing and although there was no image, you could hear “Superstition” loud and clear throughout the park. His music continued for quite a while. Everyone was already rocking.
I decided to take a break, and headed to the end of the park at Trafalgar to pay a visit to the National Gallery.
I got my floor plan and carefully laid out my plan of attack on the massive museum. I began with the Impressionists.
I also managed to fit in lunch at the museum cafe…an asparagus, fennel, and goat cheese tart and salad. It was the perfect accompaniment to Turner.
After lunch, I decided to spend another hour with Cezanne, Rembrandt and Botticelli. Finally, it was time to leave these perfect companions, and head back through the Mall. The crowds were now setting up mini-tent-towns.
The boards kept flashing notices that if you were planning to stay in the park overnight to view the parade tomorrow, you had to be in St. James’s Park, not on the Mall. In the park overnight!!!
This might be a bit tough to get anywhere close to the action tonight. OMG! These people were serious.
I was bound and determined to at least try.
Security was ultra strict, thank goodness, and they were already limiting access at certain points and checking backpacks and purses as they came in to the area.
I was informed by three concert security people that the sneak route I had planned through Green Park would be closed off…for the next two days.
It looked like I might have to open my window and listen to the music from afar, but we’ll see.
The weather may have something to do with it. It was threatening rain by 4 pm. The concert and beacons that would light up the sky were planned for later tonight. England’s skies don’t get dark until very late this time of year.
I headed over around 5 pm and made it in with many other revelers. Everyone was in an extremely jolly mood to say the least.
The sky got dark and it started to rain. But all was not lost.
Soon the sun was shining again and people were dancing in the street. I had a classic British dinner at the concert…chips (french fries to you Yanks) and a hot chocolate to ward off the chill.
And then the boards lit up and it began.
The crowd was enjoying the music thoroughly. At the least provocation they sang along, cheered and waved their flags.
As it got dark, the music got better and better. Again, the crowd control was phenomenal.
There were police, security and concert staff everywhere inside and outside the concert area to make sure everything ran smoothly…and it did. I don’t usually like huge crowds, but this never bothered me.
I waited for the queen to arrive, and decided it was time to walk back to my room (the concert actually started at 7:30). My usual access was cut off so I had to walk around a much longer way, but there were lots of people with me, a happy crowd, who had spent the day celebrating and were also ready to go home, and plenty of security on the streets to guide me home.
I can still hear the crowds and helicopters outside from my room as I write this. London is a very happy place tonight. May it always be so joyous. Happy Diamond Jubilee everyone.
I head back to the country tomorrow to join My Beloved Brit after his weekend of sailing. It will be so good to see him, but I will miss London.