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A large group of stewards had been transported overnight over distances as far as 300 miles. They arrived at 3am and were dumped off by the side of the river in pouring rain, low temperatures and ended up sheltering under bridges for several hours until someone from the company enjoying the fruits of their free labour turned up to sort them out. These will have been unemployed people with little to no money with which to buy a hot drink or food.

True though this is I don't think it's fair to lay it at The Queen's doorstep. She didn't personally contract a corporate shyster. That would have been some besuited government quango - can you see envelopes of cash in quiet car parks.... Besides, she did say a nice public thank you at the end. ;)

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We got a free ride through the whole thing from BBC America, except for the concert which we were able to glimpse somewhat edited by ABC and Katie Couric, who for some reason felt she had to explain it all to us. I liked an interview with some gangly teen-aged boy along the parade route, who said the Queen 'was pretty cool: she's the nation's granny. But not as cool as my granny.'

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I watched both the river pageant and the concert on TV. The pageant was a washout - torrential rain and cold made it arduous for the crowds lining the river, and the Queen and Prince Philip stood for the whole four hours (she's 86, he's 91, I think) and did what they're so good at - hid their true feelings and smiled bravely. No wonder Philip was hospitalised with an infection afterwards. He's out of hospital and continuing his recovery at home now.

The BBC TV coverage was, in my opinion, dreadful. The BBC has more experience doing this sort of thing than any other broadcaster and should have done better. Blaming the weather just doesn't hold water (pun intended). There was a vast amount of fascinating information to impart to the TV audience but instead we got inane disjointed chit-chat that made me want to throw a shoe at the screen. A feature was the large number of 'little ships' that took part in the Dunkirk evacuations, in the convoy but the commentators failed to tell us what Dunkirk was, let alone the surely exciting stories each of those little boats had to tell.

Enough of my curmudgeonliness about the pageant. The concert was brilliant, from start to finish. There was a live audience of about a quarter of a million, a mate of mine was there. They filled the street that runs from the palace through St James' Park to Marble Arch, which is called The Mall, and also spilled onto St James' Park itself; there were giant TV screens so everyone could see. There's a big monument outside the palace which is normally a roundabout but it had been made into the stage with a roof and stage lights, a brilliant piece of engineering. The concert was a very broad mix of musical styles, and a combination of the most enduring stars (Paul McCartney, Elton John, Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox, Kylie Minogue, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rolf Harris, Madness) and some current stars (Will.i.am, Jessie J, Robbie Williams, Cheryl Cole, Alfie Boe, Renee Fleming, Ed Sheeran who was new to me). Personally the only duff spots I thought were Grace Jones, always a bit off the wall, who hula-hooped through her song wearing a plastic breastpiece and not much else, and the point when Lenny Henry had to fill time while Stevie Wonder's set was prepared, and Rolf Harris gamely launched into an unaccompanied rendition of Two Little Boys, only to be cut short by Henry when the set was in place. Not cool.

The concert opened with Robbie Williams singing Let Me Entertain You with the Scots Guards performing with unbelievable precision. He made an explosive entrance and started the concert with a bang. Later he returned and sang Mack the Knife. I've always thought he sings it better than anyone.

A highlight was Madness playing 'Our House' from the roof of Buckingham Palace, accompanied by amazing graphics projected onto the frontage of the palace, making it look like a street of terraced houses, and then dropping panels away like a dolls house revealing people dancing inside. Jaw-droppingly impressive. Another highlight was Alfie Boe who did two spots, first a moving rendition of O Sole Mio, immediately sequeing into It's Now or Never, complete with Elvis-worthy snake-hips. His second spot was a duet of There's a Place for Us from West Side Story with Renee Fleming, sung from a balcony of Buck House.

I have to say many of the oldsters no longer have the voice they once had. Cliff Richard, Elton John and Paul McCartney all struggled to reproduce their hits, in some cases tinkering with the tune to avoid the difficult bits. Annie Lennox can still do it, though, and so, impressively, can Tom Jones, whose voice seems to be undiminished. Was it a let-down that these great stars couldn't do what they once did? No, I don't think so. They were celebrating Queen Elizabeth's sixty years of public service and they are the people whose lives have paralleled hers through it all or at least through most of it. She's not as young as she once was, either - and yet she still gamely turns up to these things and I thought it was good that they did too.

The whole thing was masterminded by Gary Barlow, who'll surely be Sir Gary before too long. He and Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote a song specially for the event, called simply Sing, using musicians and musical styles from all around the Commonwealth, and it was performed on stage to great applause. Opened by a little twelve-year-old girl from Kenya and closed by her too. A real tear-jerker, and it and the accompanying album have already shot to the top of the charts, no wonder. I make no apology for Rolf Harris's sugary introduction to this clip:

The concert ended with a set by Paul McCartney and then the Queen came onto the stage. Prince Charles gave a moving tribute to her. A number of commentators have criticised the BBC for cutting off the end abruptly before the fireworks display was over, but otherwise the BBC's part in the event was flawless.

Bruin x

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A constitutional monarchy really only has one remaining group of servants...the royal family itself. Whilst we might feel it is unfair to limit a particular family's freedoms by making it provide the head of the nation, rather than electing a head of state, the family is rather well compensated. In addition it allows the state to reap the benefits of the tourism dollar from the traditional celebrations and ceremonies, etc.

I am not a monarchist, but neither am I completely happy with the republic alternatives either. The truth is that we do have developing democracies which, will hopefully evolve into something less corrupt and more caring than their predecessors. It's a work in progress ( I hope it's progress.)

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I'm a republican(Small "r" please, not one of THOSE), and I don't believe in hereditary heads of state. Of course, not. One of ancestors was a colonel in the Revolutionary army in the 1770's. HOWEVER, I can the see the attraction. In America, our politics have become SO very polarized that an elected Head of State no longer receives the respect from half the country that he or she is due. So, I can the attraction of having a national grandmother. That said, I'm an Anglophile and I love ANYTHING English. I also like Scots, Welsh, and Irish things, but I love England. I love English mysteries, English TV shows, and Earl Grey tea. I can even eat spotted dick. Um. Ahem.. Well, anyway... so I was glued to the TV here in America watching the concert and it was absolutely stunning. The aerial shots of the sunset behind Buckingham Palace and of the absolutely HUGE crowd were unbelievable. I've seen both Elton John and Paul McCartney live in concert here, but it was a thrill to see them at the Queen's concert. I also enjoyed the shot on the evening news of the Queen slipping in ear plugs!!!! And, I can now die happy having seen the Archbishop of Canterbury bopping next to Princess Anne to Madness. Speaking of Madness, the light show projecting their video onto the palace was amazing. You Brits know how to throw a party. (Unfortunately, Paul McCartney sang the one line in all of pop music that absolutely drives me to distraction... in Live and Let Die: "in this world in which we live in..." ARGGGGGH!)

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So great to have FreeThinker back in our midst!

Welcome back to one of the most talented authors ever to grace the pages of AwesomeDude, Nifty and the rest of the net.

I have to agree... the Queen's Jubilee bash was without comparison throughout the world. I guess I'm kind of an unabashed Anglophile, as well. I was delighted to see the recent royal wedding coverage and cried at the funeral coverage of Princess Di.


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