A Platinum Jubilee Recap, Royal by Royal
Fashion! Small royal children! Horse as gift! At the Platinum Jubilee, everything and nothing happens all at once.
Welcome to another installment of Back Row, the ad-free fashion and culture newsletter that prints what other publications won’t. I got sucked into the Jubilee this week, which, after a slow trickle of news about it, burst onto the internet Thursday like a toiletry exploding in a suitcase. More Jubilee events are set to take place over the weekend — maybe Queen Liz will be seen bopping her head at the Ed Sheeran concert, who’s to say? — so, as the kids on TikTok say, like and comment on this post if you want another recap. Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle ought to continue to be out and about, wearing clothes and all. Tap the headline to read this email in your browser since it will cut off. Or, read it in the Substack app. And if you are new here, don’t forget to subscribe to get more posts like this sent to your inbox around twice a week.
Happy Platinum Jubilee! This is the big celebration of Elizabeth II’s 70 years as Queen, which is nice. It’s also an occasion for pageantry — extreme pageantry. The kind marked by a dozen+ British royals gathering together on a balcony wearing stiff hats and acting like they enjoy both each other and this sort of thing. Whether or not they do, the masses certainly seem to. It’s not quite as good as a royal wedding — the Queen isn’t going to step out in a fabulous custom gown by Alexander McQueen, despite being awfully influencer-y lately. That said, you know what’s better than a coastal grandma? A palace grandma. One who knows how to be a boss bitch without so much as knowing about the existence of Selling Sunset star Christin Quinn’s new guide to doing just that. Let’s get our Jubilee on together, royal by royal.
Prince Louis is four years old, the youngest of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s three children. He attended Thursday’s Jubilee festivities wearing a seersucker sailor suit with striped trim and a dark tie, apparently the very same sailor suit his dad Prince William wore in 1985 to the Trooping of the Colour, a traditional display of regiments of the British army that has been in place since the seventeenth century. I know what you’re thinking. Those Boomers and their hoarding. Those Youngs and their slow fashion!
After the Trooping, royals old and young gathered on the balcony to watch a flypast, involving planes zooming overhead in formation with colored smoke trailing behind them. If anything is worth this carbon footprint, it’s young Louis picking his nose and excitedly chatting up his 96-year-old Gan Gan, who peered down and grinned at him through her stylish sunglasses. She, like the rest of the public, was surely more amused by him than the flypast, which is probably, at this point in her reign, as routine to her as celebrities selling face serum.
Little Louis is also going viral for slapping his hands over his ears and making a face due to the loud noise. His mom K-Middy, rather than bend down to comfort him at length or usher him off the balcony, which is what most toddlers would demand but is obviously not allowed when you’re a 4-year-old royal being trotted out for pomp and circumstance, briefly laughed and looked right back at the sky. Unlike her son, her place on this balcony wasn’t just handed to her, and she knows not to do a damn thing that stands to photograph remotely awkwardly.
Prince William and K-Middy’s second child, 7-year-old Charlotte, could use the Jubilee to get a taste of how scrutinized she, as the only girl in her sibling group, will be as she gets older. It’s almost scary to imagine the paparazzi she will face when events like her thirteenth birthday roll around, to say nothing of casual outings at bars with friends when she’s in college. As we know from the hideous Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial, she’ll come of age on an internet that supports women like NRA-funded politicians support gun control. But hey, at least she’s an HRH instead of a girlboss? Charlotte will, thankfully, never have to do something as pedestrian as start her own company and then face wrath for how she does it.
Charlotte rode down the mall in a carriage with her step-grandmother Camilla, her mom, and her two brothers. The Daily Mail engaged a lipreader — thank god — to ensure none of their private conversation remained so.
Prince George appeared to turn to the crowd and say 'wow', as he noted the thousands of people...
A giggling Princess Charlotte also remarked 'wow', while Prince George was seen saying: 'This is great'.
She wore a blue Patachou chiffon dress and her hair swept back from her face in half ponytails. I’m not sure at what age the hats start, but I think we can all agree she would have served had she been thusly accessorized. A little tiara would have also been great. Once she got to Gan Gan’s house aka Buckingham Palace, she ditched her brothers and gathered with her girl cousins at the window. There, she sort of looked out over the Mall like she’d been forced to attend one of her dad’s boring polo games.
Prince George is in line to become king so there’s surely more pressure on him to be both cute but also impossibly mature for his age at these sorts of things. In the carriage with his mom, if the Daily Mail’s lipreader is to be believed, he said “Mama, where does this stop?” To which she should have replied, “Oh George, this is your life! This never stops!”
Unlike his little brother, 8-year-old George was all about those flypast planes, per the lipreader. “Dad, look at those planes they are so big!” he allegedly said to Prince William. He wore a navy suit with a jacket and tie, and there’s sort of an amusing photo of him standing next to his dad staring up at the sky with an expression he clearly inherited, that’s still — relatable moment alert — like the sort most people have when watching any parade: Oh, yup. There it goes. Alright then.
Prince Harry and Meghan
Harry and Meghan weren’t on the royal balcony since they are no longer part of the royal family. Last month, the Palace said in a statement, “After careful consideration, the Queen has decided this year’s traditional Trooping the Colour balcony appearance on Thursday 2nd June will be limited to Her Majesty and those members of the royal family who are currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of the Queen.” It’s not like she needs the tabloids dragging up failed Netflix shows in the same headline space as her Jubilee.
But Harry and Meghan did fly in for the Jubilee and they did mingle with royals in the Major General's Office which overlooked the Horse Guards Parade in central London for the Trooping and reportedly introduced Gan Gan to their 1-year-old daughter Lilibet. There are a couple of grainy long lens photos of Meghan wearing a hat and shushing the girls Charlotte was playing with and Harry doing the same though not wearing a hat or anything notable (his loss, our bigger loss). There are also photos of Meghan and Harry in the back of a sedan, the window on only Meghan’s side wide open. Naturally, their mere presence is being treated like an enormously big deal, like they’re the Real Housewife who showed up to the dinner party right after the host found out about the shit-talking she had done behind her back.
Friday morning, we got a slew of much better photos of Meghan wearing cream Dior coat dress to the Thanksgiving service, where, the Daily Mail reported they “were stage-managed by royal aides to sit on the other side of the aisle to William and Kate,” apparently to “avoid a repeat of the frosty scenes” that unfolded when they last sat closer to each other at a royal church function, allowing attention to be focused where it belongs: on Meghan and Kate’s dresses er — I mean, the Queen. The Queen.
Not really sure anyone much cares about Prince William since he’s still married to Kate Middleton and now has three adorable, somewhat antic-prone kids. If you were wondering why he wasn’t in the carriage with all of them, that’s because he arrived to Trooping the Colour on horseback along with his dad Prince Charles and his aunt Princess Anne. William and Charles wore matching red jackets and black hats. The horses were all beautifully attired as well in their own glitzy Jubilee couture. Yet even inclusive-minded fashion outlets have failed to provide adequate information on their attire.
Having a slow fashion moment just like her youngest son was Kate Middleton, who repeated a white Alexander McQueen coat dress she previously wore, Vogue.com reported, at the G7 Summit in Cornwall last year. The site continues, “The Duchess repeats outfits more frequently than ever, and for the recent royal tour of the Caribbean with Prince William” — you know, the one that was kind of a disaster — “she packed several vintage pieces in her suitcase.” K-Middy accessorized Thursday with a Philip Treacy hat along with sapphire drop earrings and a matching necklace that belonged to Princess Diana.
Let’s turn once more to the lipreader for a window into the things Kate had to say during the proceedings:
Kate Middleton to Louis
'Just stay, that’s a good boy. Look at all these people down there. Look, can you see all the people below? How wonderful.'
'Look up to the skies now!'
Gesturing at the crowds gathered: 'Give them a wave'
When the planes formed a '70' formation: 'Look it spells out the number ‘70’ in the sky'.'
'It’s so cool, look at that.'
Kate Middleton to her children
'Look at that, wow! Here come the bombers! They are just so good...'
Other things she did: ride in a car with William and Louis, look out at the balcony before the flypast, wave at the crowd, ride in a carriage next to Camilla, and wear her hair in a ropy updo. As the fair future Queen said herself: Yay, wow.
Friday morning, she appeared at the Thanksgiving service at St. Paul's Cathedral wearing a light yellow dress by London-based designer Emilia Wickstead, accessorized with another Philip Treacy hat and pearl drop earrings borrowed from the Queen.
Prince Charles and Camilla
Queen Elizabeth II
Seventy years on the throne and the world still loves celebrating Queen Elizabeth. The Daily Mail gleefully rounded up the international coverage of the Jubilee, and pulled a headline from the German newspaper Bild that read “The Queen in a good mood on the balcony: this sight is good!”:
A new portrait of the Queen wearing this very outfit, sans hat, gloves, and badass shades, was released by the Palace before the proceedings. It was taken in Windsor Castle by Ranald Mackechnie.
She almost looks like she’s about to say something, right? To let us on how she’s managed for 70 years to deal with the unbearable headache that is her job without allowing the world to ever really know what she’s thinking or feeling. Good thing the Daily Mail hired that lipreader to let us in on the things she says on the balcony when the public can’t hear her:
Queen to the crowd
'Thank you very much'.
Queen to Prince Charles
Walking on to the balcony: 'They come down here...let’s move over.'
Watching helicopter fleet: 'Oh my!'
When the planes formed a '70' formation in the sky: '70! That’s very clever. That must have taken a lot of practice!'
The Queen has been having what have widely been called mobility issues recently, and appeared on the balcony with a cane, but this one was new, gifted to her by General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith to show the British army’s support. Once on the balcony for the flypast, she engaged in charming banter with great grandson Louis because, really, who else was she going to talk to? Prince Charles? She who was born to parents whose life’s work was running a party supply store, K-Middy?
French President Emmanuel Macron sent Queen E both a video message to congratulate her and a gift of a horse. CNN reports:
In a statement, the French Embassy said the "shapeliness and elegance of the horse, a seven year-old standard-bearer for the Garde Républicaine, epitomizes French horse-breeding."
Look, it’s a nice-looking horse, but why are we not elevating horses of all shapes and sizes? This is 2022.
Unfortunately, due to “discomfort” experienced on the balcony, the Queen reluctantly pulled out of appearing at the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral in London on Friday. Yet prior to that on Thursday, body language expert Judi James told the Daily Mail:
'She might have used a stick but there was no rocking to suggest unsteadiness on her feet and nobody hovering to catch her if she had faltered. She looked chatty and animated and very much in charge of the important moment.'
She went onto describe Louis as “nearly combusting with a mix of what looked like impatience, boredom and excitement.” Well, weren’t we all? Wasn’t even the Queen?
But the best thing the Queen may have done so far for the Jubilee — aside from appear on that British Vogue cover — is light the Principal Beacon at Windsor Castle. This involved her stepping up to a pedestal set with a royal pillow and an orb on top of that, pushing said orb, and watching a cascade of lights magically ignite before her. Watch the video and you’ll see this is the six-figure wedding move Pinterest has long been missing.
Ed Sheeran, good luck topping that.
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