Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the British throne are reaching their climax, though the hospitalization of the monarch’s husband, Prince Philip, has cast a shadow over events.
The prince, who will be 91 next week, was taken to a hospital in London on Monday with a bladder infection and is missing Tuesday’s service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral. His illness also meant he failed to attend a concert on Monday night outside Buckingham Palace, the queen’s central London residence, that featured stars including Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder.
“The Duke of Edinburgh was taken to King Edward VII Hospital in London this afternoon, from Windsor Castle, as a precautionary measure after developing a bladder infection, which is being assessed and treated,” the royal household said in a statement on its website yesterday.
“Prince Philip will remain in hospital under observation for a few days. He is, understandably, disappointed about missing this evening’s Diamond Jubilee concert and tomorrow’s engagements.”
Political leaders including Prime Minister David Cameron joined the congregation in St. Paul’s, in London’s financial district, for this morning’s service. Crowds lined the streets of the capital to watch the 86-year-old queen drive past. The BBC says rain is likely before the monarch appears on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at about 3:30 p.m.
Prince Philip is receiving hospital treatment for the second time in six months. The queen’s husband, who is also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, had a coronary stent inserted for a blocked artery in December after suffering chest pains, causing him to miss the royal family’s Christmas celebrations.
The prince was taken to the hospital a day after the royal couple took part in a 1,000-boat Diamond Jubilee pageant on the River Thames, watched by an estimated 1 million people amid driving rain and unseasonably cold temperatures.
The queen arrived halfway through last night’s concert outside the royal palace, which included performances by Grace Jones and Kylie Minogue, as well as McCartney, Cliff Richard, Elton John and Tom Jones — all of whom have been knighted by the monarch. In contrast to the previous day, the skies above central London were cloudless.
Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, mentioned his father’s illness at the end of the concert, as he led the audience in three cheers for his mother.
“If we shout loud enough he might just hear us in hospital,” Charles joked.
After the concert, Queen Elizabeth lit a beacon, one of thousands across Britain and the Commonwealth to mark the jubilee.
Following the service at St. Paul’s today, the queen will attend a reception at the Mansion House hosted by the Lord Mayor of London and have lunch at the Houses of Parliament. She will then return to Buckingham Palace in a horse-drawn carriage. Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will also be in the procession, along with Charles’s son and daughter-in-law, Prince William and Catherine, and William’s brother, Prince Harry.
The culmination of the event will see those senior royals appear on the palace balcony, in time for a flypast by planes of the Royal Air Force and a celebratory cascade of rifle fire from the soldiers of the Queen’s Guard, interspersed with the national anthem.
Only one British monarch has spent longer than the current queen on the throne: Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901. Her Diamond Jubilee in 1897, captured on grainy black-and-white film, is the only precedent for this weekend’s events.
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