I Celebrated the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in London — Royal Family Sightings Included

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Balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant on June 05, 2022 in London, England.
Balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant on June 05, 2022 in London, England.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images (L-R) Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince George of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Louis of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant on June 05, 2022 in London, England.

As the balcony doors slowly opened and a figure in bright green stepped out, the palpable thrill in the air reached such a tremendous fever pitch that I could feel it envelope me with a level of excitement I'd never imagined. There she stood, Her Majesty The Queen — and I couldn't believe I was here in London, seeing her on the iconic Buckingham Palace platform, between her son Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, and her grandson Prince William, his wife Kate, and their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.

The momentous occasion on Sunday afternoon marked the grand finale of the four-day Queen's Platinum Jubilee weekend, honoring Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch, for her 70 years of service. As the thousands of people who crowded The Mall from the palace down to Trafalgar Square broke out into a chorus of the British national anthem, "God Save the Queen," she stood there in her royal splendor, giving a wave to the crowd of us who had just seen the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, a two-and-a-half-hour parade of 10,000 participants telling the story of her seven decades on the throne.

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images Queen Elizabeth II stands on the balcony at Buckingham Palace at the end of the Platinum Pageant on The Mall on June 5, 2022 in London, England.

The moment was especially poignant since the 96-year-old hadn't been at any of the weekend's events since Thursday, and her appearance here had been questionable, with a hologram of her waving from the Gold State Carriage at the start of the parade. But Her Royal Highness never disappoints, and her brief appearance was instantly historic.

Since I got off the plane in London, one thing has been clear: this is largely a nation that respects the Queen with the utmost honor. The love for her is marked everywhere, from people dressed in Union Jack attire and stores selling her bobblehead and stuffed animals of her beloved corgis to iconic landmarks like The Dorchester serving a Platinum Jubilee–themed afternoon tea, The London Eye hosting a Jubilee Pub Pod, and Galvin at Windows offering a seven-course celebratory meal with each course as a "love letter" to her reign.

The original golden coronation carriage
The original golden coronation carriage

Karwai Tang/WireImage The original golden coronation carriage with a hologram of the Queen is seen during the Platinum Pageant on June 05, 2022 in London, England.

While my canceled flight meant I missed the first day's celebration on Thursday with the Trooping the Colour parade and flypast with planes in the formation of a "70," I ran over to St. Paul's Cathedral the moment that I landed Friday, just in time to get my first glimpse of the Royal Family, as Charles and Camilla and William and Kate walked down the stairs after the Service of Thanksgiving, followed by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — in their first (and to-date only) appearance in the UK in more than two years.

Cameras were up and cheers rang out as each pair exited (while Boris Johnson received a chorus of "boos"), but what immediately struck me was how kind everyone in the crowd was to one another. One stranger next to me offered to send his footage to me since I was too short to see past all the raised phones at one point, while another and I hung out together afterwards watching all the videos I had caught and identifying all the Royals in the frame. There was this immediate bonding and camaraderie over having shared such an essential moment, and really just a show of unconditional love for the Queen.

Local residents take part in a Platinum Jubilee Big Lunch On The Long Walk in Windsor Great Park to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee on 5th June 2022 in Windsor, United Kingdom.
Local residents take part in a Platinum Jubilee Big Lunch On The Long Walk in Windsor Great Park to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee on 5th June 2022 in Windsor, United Kingdom.

Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images Local residents take part in a Platinum Jubilee Big Lunch On The Long Walk in Windsor Great Park to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee on 5th June 2022 in Windsor, United Kingdom.

The next day, I scored a ticket to the BBC's Platinum Party at the Palace — a concert spectacular on three stages, with performances from legends like Andrea Bocelli, Rod Stewart, Alicia Keys, Duran Duran, and Diana Ross; a musical medley introduced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Lin-Manuel Miranda; and a drone light show that depicted images of Her Majesty's favorites, including a corgi chasing a bone. But what really blew me away at the very start of the show was a video where the Queen showcased her sense of humor and embracing of pop culture by enjoying marmalade sandwiches and tea with Paddington Bear. They started clinking their spoons out to the beat of Queen's "We Will Rock You" as the band, with Adam Lambert in the lead, took the stage in real life — making it perhaps the most royal introduction any band has ever received.

While the performers wowed on the main stages, the real show was happening in the stands, where the Royal Family members sat in the front row of the Royal Box. My attention was constantly pulled in both directions, as I caught moments of Charlotte and George waving their British flags to the beat of the music and Kate belly-laughing over the on-stage antics.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge visit Cardiff Castle on June 04, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge visit Cardiff Castle on June 04, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales.

Karwai Tang/WireImage

The final day of the celebratory weekend kicked off with the Big Jubilee Lunch, 60,000 individual meals being held to toast the occasion. I headed to a street party in the Belgravia neighborhood, hosted by the British bar Ganymede (whose coronation chicken was especially fragrant and tasty), where tables lined the middle of the streets as people decked out in blue, red, and white enjoyed food and drinks, and kids were treated to the traditional puppet show, "Punch and Judy."

After the festive pre-party, we weaseled our way through the crowds and back over to Buckingham Place, where I was lucky enough to get a seat in the stands within eyeshot of the Royal Family — this time seeing with my own eyes Louis (who hadn't been there the night before) sitting on his grandfather Prince Charles' lap, Charlotte skipping back to her seat with Kate, and George pointing out the parade's visual spectacles to his dad, Prince William.

Balcony with Royal Family at Trooping the Colour parade on June 02, 2022 in London, England.
Balcony with Royal Family at Trooping the Colour parade on June 02, 2022 in London, England.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Timothy Laurence, Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Louis of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, James, Viscount Severn, Lady Louise Windsor and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex on the balcony of Buckingham Palace watch the RAF flypast during the Trooping the Colour parade on June 02, 2022 in London, England.

And George's reactions were spot on, as the procession included a timeline through the last seven decades with double-decker buses carrying celebrities like Kate Moss, Charlotte Tilbury, Phoebe Dynevor, and Naomi Campbell, as well as intricately designed floats, like a giant balloon with the Queen's portrait on it and an acrobat performing under it, and meaningful groups, like the Corgi Training School walking fake dogs.

At one point, one of the cars in the parade broke down, and five people worked to push it off to the side — William caught a glimpse of the situation and immediately waved in acknowledgement for the extra elbow grease being exerted to ensure the festivities for his grandmother went off without a hitch.

All in all, the four-day long celebration was a show of British pride, but truly an ode to an icon who is just so well-loved. And throughout the entire weekend, nothing stood out more than the kindness shown by every single person, from the security detail Daniel O'Dowd, who dropped everything and personally escorted us across Buckingham Palace to our seats, to every British police officer, who thanked us for attending as we walked out. It was clear this was an occasion that the Brits weren't just excited to have — but that they were proud to share with the entire world. After all, this kind of love for someone after 70 years truly is worth its weight in platinum.