Pictures for eternity: queen with jam bread in her handbag, queen playing in front of the queen, drone art in the sky. Stunning show honors 70 years of Elizabeth II – is it a farewell?

Shortly before the end, the 73-year-old Prince Charles becomes a child again. “Your Majesty, Mommy,” the heir to the throne turns to his mother, the Queen. On behalf of the whole country, indeed the world, her eldest son thanks Queen Elizabeth II for her reign.

It is the emotional climax of a two-and-a-half-hour mega-bash right in front of Buckingham Palace, which features almost everything that is possible in terms of stars, blaze of color and technology. The United Kingdom, so the impression, does not just lie at the feet of its queen. It surrenders to her in an unprecedented frenzy of images and messages.

Hardly possible to single out a climax. The “Platinum Party at the Palace”, organized by the BBC, turns into a state of emergency for the senses. At the start, even the Queen will stop by, if only from the screen. In a two-minute clip, the 96-year-old meets the popular children’s book character Paddington. “Tea?” asks the monarch – and the clumsy bear drinks directly from the pot without hesitation. To make up for his lapse, Paddington offers a sandwich with jam, which he always carries in his hat as emergency rations. But the Queen refuses, opens her handbag – and pulls out a piece of bread herself. “I keep mine here,” she says, smiling.

Around 40 family members present

The scene tops even the 2012 Summer Olympics opening clip, when the Queen appeared to parachute with James Bond actor Daniel Craig. And it goes on at incredible speed. Music stars perform on several stages every five minutes, there is no pausing. First up is the rock band Queen with singer Adam Lambert, while guitarist Brian May stands in proper style in front of the monument to Queen Victoria. Time to catch your breath? None, singers and stages change so quickly. Sometimes it seems as if the 22,000 spectators are still dazed from one performance when the next begins.

Around 40 members of the Royal Family – but not Queen’s grandson Prince Harry and his wife Duchess Meghan – follow the spectacle from the Royal Box. In the front row, Harry’s brother Prince William, his wife Duchess Kate and their two older children Prince George and Princess Charlotte are waving British flags, singing along with the hit song “Sweet Caroline”, performed by Rod Stewart. They are also on stage: First William, who makes an emotional appeal for environmental protection. And then, almost at the end, Charles. “On behalf of all of us, I would like to pay my own tribute to your lifelong selfless service,” said the heir to the throne, not forgetting “my dad”, the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, who died in 2021.

Celebrities send congratulations

In between: video messages from some of Britain’s best known, actresses Julie Andrews and Judi Dench, Beatle Paul McCartney, footballer David Beckham and Olympic champion Mo Farah. “70 years as our regent,” enthuses pop star Elton John.

Elizabeth has been queen since February 6, 1952, longer than any monarch before. Again and again the voice of the Queen can be heard from the loudspeakers, such as her promise to serve her people until the end of her life. The jubilarian is only present on the screen. The 96-year-old, who recently canceled appointments more often due to mobility problems, is still recovering from the start of the four-day celebrations. But every time her name is mentioned, the crowds cheer. There are hardly any Brits who can remember another head of state. “We are all Elizabethans,” proclaims actor Stephen Fry.

As the evening progresses, Buckingham Palace transforms into a movie screen. Images of the Queen are projected onto the facade, colors and patterns. The “Union Jack” shines again and again. But in the end, when US soul icon Diana Ross sings, the palace is just an accessory. In the sky above the castle, drones paint moving images in the air, symbols of the Queen: a Corgi – her favorite breed of dog, a handbag, a teapot, a galloping horse. Finally the Queen as a postage stamp.

And at this point at the latest, the impression is created that it is no longer about the anniversary, but about the legacy. The Queen as a brand everyone looks up to, no longer of this world but above it all. It looks like a farewell ceremony.