The Queen made a last-minute surprise appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and released a heartfelt note to her subjects on Sunday, the final day of the Platinum Jubilee Central Weekend celebrations to mark her 70 years on the British throne.
"When it comes to how to mark seventy years as your Queen, there is no guidebook to follow. It really is a first. But I have been humbled and deeply touched that so many people have taken to the streets to celebrate my Platinum Jubilee," she said in a message released by the Palace.
"While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all; and I remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability, supported by my family. I have been inspired by the kindness, joy and kinship that has been so evident in recent days, and I hope this renewed sense of togetherness will be felt for many years to come.
"I thank you most sincerely for your good wishes and for the part you have all played in these happy celebrations."
The last big event for the four-day Jubilee celebrations was the Platinum Pageant, a parade of more than 10,000 people to showcase iconic moments from the Queen's reign and the societal changes since she took the throne in 1952.
Although the 96-year-old Queen was present on the balcony for Thursday's Trooping the Colour and the lighting of a ceremonial beacon at Windsor Castle on that same day, she had pulled out of all planned events on the following days — and an appearance at Sunday's pageant was not scheduled.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Thursday that the Queen, who has mobility issues, experienced "some discomfort" during the Trooping the Colour and would not be attending a Service of Thanksgiving in honor of her reign on Friday.
Then, on Friday, the Palace announced that she would be missing the Epsom Derby horse races held on Saturday for only the third time in her reign. On Saturday, she also did not attend the BBC's Platinum Party at the Palace concert with other members of the royal family, but she did make an appearance with Paddington Bear in a prerecorded sketch that played at the beginning of the program.
Thus, it was a huge surprise when on Sunday during the pageant, held outside of Buckingham Palace, the royal standard began to rise over the building, indicating that the Queen was in residence. (The Queen now lives at Windsor Castle.)
Shortly after the flag began to fly, certain members of the royal family quickly left the special seats from which they'd been watching the pageant and disappeared, another sure sign that the Queen was planning to appear.
Why? The members in question were the future kings and their families. Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. (Charles, William, and George are the future kings, in case you were wondering.)
And sure enough, in a few minutes, they appeared with the Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
This is what they saw.
And even those farthest away in the crowds saw her.
Soon after she arrived on the balcony, a trumpet fanfare began, and the crowds of people sang the British national anthem, "God Save the Queen."
And with that, the celebrations in honor of the first British monarch in history to reign for 70 years came to an end.