x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Duke's health casts shadow as diamond jubilee reaches climax

The hospitalisation of the Duke of Edinburgh cast a shadow over the climax to Britain's four-day holiday to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 60-year reign.

Queen Elizabeth II, and members of the British royal family, attend a thanksgiving service at St Paul's Cathedral in London today.
Queen Elizabeth II, and members of the British royal family, attend a thanksgiving service at St Paul's Cathedral in London today.

LONDON // The hospitalisation of the Duke of Edinburgh cast a shadow over the climax to Britain's four-day holiday to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 60-year reign.

The queen's husband, who will be 91 on Sunday, is receiving treatment for a bladder infection after complaining of feeling poorly after Sunday's 1,000-boat procession down the River Thames, when he and the queen stood for three hours on a barge in chill winds and driving rain.

He missed Monday evening's pop concert outside Buckingham Palace and was absent when the queen attended a thanksgiving service at St Paul's Cathedral.

His place next to the queen was taken by Prince Charles at both the service and during a royal carriage procession in the afternoon from Westminster to Buckingham Palace.

A spokesman for the royals described the duke's treatment as "precautionary" but added that he was likely to remain in hospital for several days.

Judging by the smiles and body language of the queen and other members of the royal family, the duke's current condition was not a major concern as tens of thousands of well-wishers turned out in London to watch the procession of royal carriages.

Hundreds more had crowded around St Paul's in the morning for the thanksgiving service at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican Church, praised the queen's life-long service to Britain and the Commonwealth.

Dr Williams told a packed congregation, which included leaders of all the major religions along with representatives from dozens of Commonwealth and other nations, that the queen had "endured faithfully, calmly and generously" during her reign.

He added: "She has made her public happy and all the signs are that she is herself happy, fulfilled and at home in these encounters. The same, of course, can manifestly be said of Prince Philip, and our prayers and thoughts are very much with him this morning."

After a reception at the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London and a lavish lunch for 700 guests at Westminster Hall, the queen and the rest of the royal party set off in a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace.

The queen, joined by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla for the 20-minute trip in a horse-drawn carriage, smiled and waved to the many thousands lining the route as military bands played and soldiers fired a 60-gun salute.

Other carriages carried other members of the royal family, including Prince William and his wife Catherine and Prince Harry.

Later, almost the entire royal family appeared on the palace balcony to roars of approval from the flag-waving crowd outside.

dsapsted@thenational.ae