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LONDON – A performance by Paul McCartney and a big fireworks display closed out a star-studded concert for Queen Elizabeth II‘s diamond jubilee in front of Buckingham Palace Monday night.
The three-hour-plus concert, which aired on BBC1 and will see highlights broadcast on ABC on Tuesday, was held in front of 20,000 people, most of them with tickets allocated by a lottery, and an estimated 250,000 viewing on the near-by mall. It was part of the extended weekend’s celebrations of the Queen’s 60th anniversary on the throne.
STORY: BBC Draws Majority of U.K. TV Viewers With Sunday Jubilee Coverage
The music from a who-is-who of British performers, a host of comedians serving as hosts and a sea of British flags kept the crowd energized and cheering and singing despite cold weather. And they kept members of the royal family, including Prince Charles, Prince William, wife Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and, later on, the Queen herself, entertained as well as BBC cameras repeatedly showed the princes smiling, clapping and sometimes even singing along.
The Queen’s husband, Prince Phillip missed Monday night’s event due to a bladder infection that forced him to the hospital.
Opening the concert, Robbie Williams sang “Let Me Entertain You” followed by U.S. star Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas who was joined by Britain’s Jessie J to perform “I Gotta Feeling.”
Also early on, co-organizer Gary Barlow and Cheryl Cole performed “I Need You Now,” followed by a medley from Cliff Richard who wore a salmon suit and glitter tie. He also sang the song “Congratulations” for the Queen, which he said he recorded in 1968.
Grace Jones, who managed to hoola-hoop while singing in a Lady Gaga-style in red-and-black outfit kept the crowd going.
Young comedian Jimmy Carr was among those serving up jokes in between performances. “When Liz, sorry the Queen, invited me to do this…,” he said at one point before calling her “the best Queen I can remember.”
He also quipped that he couldn’t blame the Queen for taking a barge in leading a fleet parade down the river Thames on Sunday. “Traffic was terrible,” Carr joked.
And he asked the crowd whose car was blocking Elton John‘s car. Its license plate: Rolls Royce HRH1.
Rob Brydon, another comic-host, then made fun of the hype surrounding the upcoming Summer Olympics in London. If he got a pound every time he hears someone mention the Olympics, “I could nearly afford a ticket,” he said.
STORY: Prince Phillip Hospitalized With Bladder Infection During Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee
Annie Lennox, sporting angel wings as she sang “There Must Be an Angel,” and Tom Jones, whose performance included such classics as “Delilah,” were up next.
Jones recalled that he was at the monarch’s golden jubilee 10 years ago, but joked that that event happened behind the palace.
The Queen next made her entrance and her way to her seat to much applause with one host welcoming her from the stage before telling her: “You just missed Tom Jones.”
Robbie Williams then hit the stage again to much applause to perform a version of “Mack the Knife” before his “Take That” partner Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber led local musicians from various parts of the British Common wealth in performing their special jubilee song “Sing.”
Brydon then returned with a joke how the U.S. president once gave the Queen an iPod with Broadway tunes as a gift. “She is a queen, but she doesn’t necessarily like show tunes,” he said.
Lauding the backstage workers at the concert, the comic also made a joke referencing the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics that recently featured U.K. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt talking about text messages he sent top executives at Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp. while the British government was reviewing the conglomerate’s planned acquisition of pay TV giant BSkyB. “They have been working quicker than Jeremy Hunt deleting a text message,” Brydon said about the backstage workers.
He also told the crowd that “we are trending” on Twitter. “We are just beneath Justin Bieber‘s new haircut.”
Shirley Bassey, who sang “Diamonds Are Forever” as the sun set, and Kylie Minogue, who performed several hits, continued the procession of music star power before Elton John made his way to the stage in a pink glitter suit.
He started off with “I’m Still Standing” and ended his performance with “Crocodile Rock,” which saw Prince William and wife Kate clap and sing along.
STORY: Kate Middleton is Red Haute in Alexander McQueen at The Jubilee Thames River Pageant
Stevie Wonder continued the parade of stars, at one point singing “Happy Birthday” with Will.i.am. At one point, the microphones briefly cut out, but the show continued, with Wonder singing “Superstition” while changing the lyrics to say
“…celebrating the Diamond Jubilee…”
Colorful video projections onto Buckingham Palace then accompanied Madness, who sang “Our House” and “It Must Be Love” on the palace’s balcony.
Paul McCartney wrapped up the show by congratulating the Queen on “60 fantastic years” and singing such favorites as “All My Loving,” “Let It Be” and his version of “Live and Let Die.”
The singer then took off his jacket to show off a British flag, known as the Union Jack, on the inside and picked up a guitar that was also adorned with the Union Jack. As all performers from earlier in the night came on stage, the concert closed with Obladi Oblada and hugs being exchanged by the likes of Cliff Richard and Elton John.
After the music show, the Queen walked on stage, led by Barlow, but only Prince Charles spoke. “Your majesty, mummy…,” he opened his speech to many laughs.
He thanked all involved in the celebration, including 600 technicians, the weather that “turned out fine,” but said that “the only sad thing” about the night was that his father missed it. “If we shout loud enough, he might just hear us in hospital,” he said as the crowd cheered.
Prince Charles added that the concert most importantly was an opportunity for the country to thank its monarch for “always being there for us…and for making us proud to be British.”
Following three cheers of “hip hip hooray,” the British anthem played, following by fireworks that sent the crowd home.
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