Queen's Diamond Jubilee Parade review
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The River Pageant the other day was good, but it wasn't a patch on the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Parade that I went too today. Mainly because it wasn't chucking it down with rain all afternoon. And also because I bagged the best spot that I've ever had.
I must have got there about 10 o'clock today, for a half-past 12 start, and I immediately headed for Parliament Square. I've been to enough of these parades now to know where the best place to stand is. If they are going to go down Whitehall and past Parliament then there's only place to go -- Parliament Square, where Brian Haws used to sit on his little seat. And today I got the plum spot directly opposite the gate, right where the carriage was due to come out (see video).
When you're standing still for hours waiting for something to happen, it helps to have a few chatty people standing next to you, and I got talking to a nice lady today who came to London especially for the Jubilee. So we were banging on about that, and the river pageant, Australia and the MI5, the NHS, and all sorts of stuff, and before you know it it was half-past 12. Then the gun cops all came out and lined the streets, beady eyes scanning the crowd for signs of trouble. They are usually pretty friendly and chatty too, and they even coordinated a few Mexican waves. (Anyone who didn't take part got arrested). I think they should kit the police out with pom-poms next time, because they made a fair stab at being cheerleaders.
Then it started getting good. It was probably the best parade I've been to so far, in fact, mainly due to the spot where I was standing. About half-an-hour before the gates were due to open, the horses came and stood in their spot, directly in front of my face. Their backsides were literally six feet from my face. You don't appreciate how big these horses are until their tails are whipping up and flicking the air in front of your face. They are collosal, and the soliders were all sitting on them with silver breastplates and swords -- the whole business. Then half of the horses peeled away down Whitehall to head the pararde, and the Queen's carriage came out of the gate.
After that all hell broke loose because people started hot-footing down to St. James's Park for the balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace. The Mall was already shut and closed off, and the police announced that Trafalgar Square and St. James's Park had been closed too. I later found out that 1.5 million turned up to see the parade, and it felt like double that on the ground. There were thousands of people all marching down the side roads trying to find a way to Buckingham Palace, but everywhere was shut. We ended up traipsing our way all the way down to Victoria, to get round the back way, but even that was closed off. The police had closed off every road to stop more cramming in. So unfortunately I had to give up in the end, and I missed the balcony appearance and flyplast. But I wasn't really bothered anyway -- it was worth standing up for four hours just for the parade.
This is my fourth big parade event now, and I can thoroughly recommend them. Lots of people baulk at doing these things because of all the waiting around, but I can honestly say that time flies by -- you always have someone to talk to, even if you're alone. As long as you arrive early and get a good spot, it's one of the best things that you can do in London.
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