JUNE 4, 2022
Drones form the shape of a Corgi over the crowds during a concert outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday. – Hollie Adams/Getty Images
LONDON — We now know what’s inside Queen Elizabeth II’s famous handbag: a stash of marmalade sandwiches.
That, at least, was what the queen revealed in a comic sketch with Paddington Bear that rocked Buckingham Palace and delighted viewers around the world.
The segment was aired at a concert held at the palace Saturday night, the third day of festivities celebrating the queen’s record-breaking Platinum Jubilee, or 70 years on the throne. Thousands flocked to the palace in London to watch the star-studded concert and witness floating corgis and teapots in the skies in a stunning drones and lights show. Millions more watched at home on the BBC.
The queen wasn’t at the concert. After experiencing “some discomfort” on the first day of jubilee celebrations — Brits are celebrating the jubilee from Thursday to Sunday — she pulled out of events on the second and third days.
But even if she wasn’t at the Saturday night concert in person, she was clearly the star of the show, demonstrating to the British public in a prerecorded sketch that she really does have a knack for comedy.
In the scene, the queen and Paddington Bear, a beloved fictional character in Britain, sit down at the palace for a cup of afternoon tea. It’s all very posh but things, of course, go wrong for the accident-prone bear. A tea pot goes flying and a dessert is splattered on a footman’s face.
The bear then says to the queen: “Perhaps, you’d like a marmalade sandwich, I always keep one for emergencies.”
“So do I,” responds the queen, who then opens her black handbag. “I keep mine in here,” she says, as she lifts a sandwich out of her bag, adding, “For later.”
The crowd watching at the palace roared with delight.
It was not the first time the queen has revealed her comic talents to a large audience. She also had a star turn, along with her corgis, in a James Bond sketch for the opening ceremony at the London Olympics. Social media on Saturday night was flooded with debate over which one was better.
The palace, which was clearly having some fun as well, said that the queen felt the opportunity to have Paddington around for tea was an opportunity not to be missed.
The palace said in a statement: “Her Majesty is well known for her sense of humour, so it should be no surprise that she decided to take part in tonight’s sketch.”
“There was an interest in the filming and animation process and the opportunity to invite a famous bear to tea was just too much fun to miss,” they said.
The future king, Prince Charles, referenced the skit when he took the stage at the concert to pay tribute to the queen.
He began his speech with “Your Majesty, Mummy.” He delivered the same introduction at the queen’s golden and diamond jubilees, celebrating 50 and 60 years on the throne, respectively.
In an emotional tribute, Charles said his mother had “immense regret” that she was not at the concert in person. But she was, he said, “watching these celebrations with much emotion, having, I hope, finished her marmalade sandwich.”
He then urged the crowd to make some noise so that she might hear them from Windsor Castle, where she was watching the concert.
“Windsor Castle is barely 20 miles away so if we cheer loudly enough, she might, might just hear us. So let’s all join together,” Charles said. The crowd merrily obliged.
Charles, who has filled in for his mother at major events when she is unable to attend, said of the queen: “You pledged to serve your whole life — you continue to deliver. That is why we are here. That is what we celebrate tonight.”
As he was speaking, images of the queen were projected onto the facade of Buckingham Palace.
Throughout the 2½-hour event — which included performances by Diana Ross, Alicia Keys, Duran Duran, George Ezra and the rock band Queen — images were projected onto the royal residence.
There were also prerecorded messages from a number of major figures, including Michelle Obama, who thanked the queen for “welcoming a nervous first lady to Buckingham Palace for the first time” and Daniel Craig, who has played James Bond, who nodded at their Olympic skit together: “I will follow you anywhere ma’am, out of any helicopter door.”
There was also a green theme. The crowd heard a prerecorded message from naturalist David Attenborough. When he spoke, wristbands handed out to guests flashed green. The queen’s speeches on the environment, including one from the climate conference in Glasgow last year, were also played.
When he took the stage, Prince William said: “It’s my firm hope that my grandmother’s words are as true in 70 years’ time as they are tonight that as nations we come together in common cause, because then there is always room for hope.”
One of the most stunning moments came compliments of drones, which helped to light up the skies with a cup of tea, a handbag and “thank you, ma’am” messages.
And, of course, a corgi, the queen’s favorite dog.
“The drone corgi above Buckingham Palace has made my year,” wrote one user on social media.
“There is a giant drone corgi over Buckingham Palace and this is the best country on earth,” said another.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan had his own take: “Corg’ Blimey!”