This coming weekend, people across the UK and beyond will celebrate the 96-year-old Queen’s platinum jubilee, which marks her 70th year on the throne.
And in the small village of Bidford-on-Avon, everything has to be perfect for the occasion, AFP told AFP.
Here, as in most of the UK, Queen Elizabeth II remains extremely popular and a small team of volunteers invest many hours to ensure the event is a memorable one.
“I wake up at three or four in the morning and suddenly I remember something that we may have forgotten to order,” said Suze Meredith, chair of the village’s Platinum Jubilee Committee.
With just a few days left until the celebrations begin, she’s working against the clock to get everything ready on time.
Her role in this pretty central England village has been “full-time for three months,” she told AFP.
That morning, firefighters came with a long ladder to hang red, white, and blue flags along the main street. A few hours later, a group of traditional dancers was scheduled to hold a final rehearsal.
Every detail has been taken care of for the long weekend of celebrations from 2nd to 5th June.
– celebrate four days –
The Platinum Jubilee Committee met in Bidford last summer with its 15th century stone bridge.
The program for the four days of festival is impressively long: beautifully decorated house and garden competition, costume competition, torch relay and beacon, cricket, tennis, football, bowling, concert by the local choir as well as exhibitions and lectures.
The village is also hosting a cake competition and opening a jubilee garden where several time capsules will be buried – one set to reopen in 50 years – chronicling aspects of life in 2022.
The celebrations culminate on Sunday with a street party featuring a band, Irish dancers and Morris men, a children’s ride and refreshments.
The streets of the neighboring village of Alcester are also adorned with red, white and blue pennants and large portraits of the Queen against a backdrop of Union Jack flags.
Village shops have windows with commemorative mugs and other china, teaspoons from the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Diana – even two small china corgis (the Queen’s favorite dogs).
“I know a lot of people think we shouldn’t have a monarchy anymore, but to me it’s part of tradition and part of our original identity and culture,” said Tabitha Gibson, who lives in Bidford.
She now has two young sons, but she recalls how her grandmother would insist on watching the Queen’s speech on TV every Christmas.
“I feel like she’s someone who ran the country… a figurehead for the country and also the head of the (Anglican) Church. I think that’s pretty important,” she says.
“She’s a remarkable woman and a real asset to the country,” says another villager, Philomena Hodgetts, 73. She describes the queen as “steadfast” and “someone to look up to.”
– Emotional Memories-
In the feverish preparations for the anniversary, some share their memories of the monarch.
Phyllis Losh, whose son fought in the Gulf War, recalls being invited to meet the Queen at a military base.
“I’m tiny and she was my equal. She has the most beautiful, most beautiful eyes,” she said.
She laughed as she recalled “having to curtsy with a cup and saucer and a purse.
“She’s amazing, absolutely amazing,” she added. “She does everything with such dignity.”
Steve Jackson, a retired local who organized the local community choir’s concert, emphasizes how much the monarchy has changed in his lifetime.
“We never saw much of the royal family before. They were very private and lived in Buckingham Palace. Nowadays they are much more open,” he says, citing the 73-year-old heir to the throne, Prince Charles. and even more so his 39-year-old son William, who is next in line.
Nobody gives much credit to speculation that the Queen, who has reduced public appearances due to mobility issues, could abdicate or that the throne could pass directly to her grandson William.
“I don’t think she will resign. Because I think she sees it as her duty to be queen,” Jackson said. “And I think Charles will take over because it’s tradition.
In the short term at least, Bidford residents are more concerned about the weather forecast and are praying the rain won’t spoil their party.