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Jubilee balcony line-ups reveal key players on the royal stage

Queen Elizabeth II joining members of the royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their children Princess Charlotte and Prince George, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, central London after they attended the Trooping the Colour ceremony in 2016 (Steve Parsons/PA).
Queen Elizabeth II joining members of the royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their children Princess Charlotte and Prince George, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, central London after they attended the Trooping the Colour ceremony in 2016 (Steve Parsons/PA).

The royal family’s Jubilee appearances on the Buckingham Palace balcony have long offered a fascinating insight into the shape and future of the monarchy.

From the Queen’s Silver Jubilee to this year’s Platinum Jubilee, these line-ups send a striking message about the primary players on the royal stage.

In 2012, for the Diamond Jubilee, a slimmed-down version of The Firm stepped out to greet the mass crowds celebrating the Queen’s 60-year reign.

The Silver Jubilee balcony appearance in 1977, Golden Jubilee in 2002 and Diamond Jubilee in 2012
The Silver Jubilee balcony appearance in 1977, Golden Jubilee in 2002 and Diamond Jubilee in 2012 (PA)

Just six royals waved to the well-wishers at the frontage of monarchy HQ – the Queen and only those at the very top of the succession list and their wives.

Alongside the monarch was her eldest son and heir to the throne the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, second in line to the throne the Duke of Cambridge and his wife of just over a year the Duchess of Cambridge, and third in line Prince Harry, with the Duke of Edinburgh in hospital after falling ill following the River Pageant.

Platinum Jubilee – previous jubilees
Key royals onboard the Spirit of Chartwell during the Diamond Jubilee Pageant (John Stillwell/PA)

The decision was said to be part of future King Charles’ vision of streamlining and modernising the institution.

Missing were the Queen’s other children, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex – all then full-time working royals – and their families, amid reports Andrew was angered by the decision and Edward left disappointed.

Platinum Jubilee – previous jubilees
Crowds cheering the Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2012 (Lewis Whyld/PA)

Ten years earlier during the 2002 Golden Jubilee, 20 members of the royal family had packed the balcony of the Queen’s London home to watch a traditional flypast.

The long line of royals stretched across the balcony and included Andrew, Edward and the Countess of Wessex and Anne along with the Queen’s grandchildren Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Peter Phillips, as well as William and Harry.

Also there were a number of extended family – the Queen’s cousins the Duke of Kent, the Duke of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra and Prince Michael of Kent and his wife Princess Michael of Kent among others.

Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee
The Queen surrounded by her family watches flypast during the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002 (Matthew Fearn/PA)

There was no Camilla, as the duchess was still Mrs Parker Bowles and three years away from marrying Charles.

For the Silver Jubilee in 1977, it was the Queen, Philip, their children who were then young adults and teens, as well as the influential figure of Philip’s uncle Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who was murdered by the IRA two years later.

They were joined by the royal matriarch the Queen Mother, the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret and Anne’s now ex-husband Captain Mark Phillips.

Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee
The Queen and Philip with (from left) Charles, Edward, Anne, Earl Mountbatten, Captain Mark Phillips, Princess Margaret, Prince Andrew and the Queen Mother in 1977 (PA)

In 2022, scandals and family dramas have ensured a vastly altered balcony ensemble for the traditional flypast.

Gone is Harry, after he and the Duchess of Sussex stepped down as senior working royals amid the Megxit saga.

Harry and Meghan are returning to the UK for what will be the former Suits actress’ first experience of a Jubilee since she married into the Windsors.

But the Queen has “after careful consideration” limited the Platinum Jubilee Trooping the Colour balcony appearance to working members of her family who carry out official public duties.

Platinum Jubilee – previous jubilees
The Jubilee Queen in the Gold State Coach in 2002 (Rebecca Naden/PA)

Eighteen royals will appear on Thursday including the Queen, if mobility problems allow her to do so, and Charles, Camilla, William and Kate.

There is also no place for Andrew, who was cast out of the institution over his civil sexual assault case.

But back on the balcony are Edward and Sophie, and Anne and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, as well as the Queen’s cousins the Duke of Gloucester and his wife the Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra who have devoted their lives to royal service.

Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee
The scene from the roof of Buckingham Palace as crowds gather for the flypast in 2002 (Chris Ison/PA)

This Jubilee also sees new young additions, with the Queen’s Cambridge great-grandchildren Prince George – a future monarch – Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, and the Wessexes’ children Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn set to appear.

It is also hoped the monarch will make a second Jubilee appearance at the end of the weekend after the Pageant on Sunday.

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