Disappointing photos show what it was like to visit London during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend

A photo of the royal family on the palace balcony taken by a professional photographer, left, and a photo taken by Mikhaila Friel from Insider.Chris Jackson/Getty Images, Mikhaila Friel/Insider.

  • The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which marked her 70th birthday as monarch, took place this past weekend.

  • The milestone was marked with commemorative events in London.

  • I attended many of the events and found that reality was not what it appears on social media.

On the first weekend of June, thousands of people from all over the world gathered in London, UK, to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which marked her 70th anniversary on the throne.

london map

The Platinum Jubilee took place in the capital of the United Kingdom, London.Google Maps / Skitch

I was in town from Wednesday, June 1st to Sunday, June 5th to cover Insider’s Jubilee. While the trip was amazing, I saw another perspective that hasn’t been shown on social media or TV.

Mikhaila in troop

Mikhaila in Trooping the ColorMikhaila Friel / Insider

The first event I attended was the Trooping the Color parade on June 2nd. The parade of horses, soldiers and royal musicians took place at Buckingham Palace Mall and was followed by a royal appearance on the palace balcony.

The royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace watching the RAF flyby.

The royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace watching the RAF flyby.Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The parade was open to the public. Buckingham Palace Road was understandably busy and roads were cordoned off as people made their way to the palace.

tromping the color

The walk to Buckingham Palace Mall on Buckingham Palace Road.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

Hundreds of people passed through nearby St James’s Park two hours before the event began.

st james park

The crowd at St James’s Park walking towards The Mall.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

I finally got to the parade route at The Mall, a street that starts at Buckingham Palace and ends at Trafalgar Square.

parade route troping color

The parade route at Buckingham Palace Mall.Google Maps / Skitch

Some people brought stools to help them see over the huge crowd, and I wish I had thought of the idea myself.

trooping the multitudes of colors

People climbed on stools to see over the crowd.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

Others brought chairs to stay comfortable while waiting for hours.

trooping the parade of colors

People sitting on chairs on the Trooping the Color parade route.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

When the parade started at 10am, some people didn’t try to see over the crowd and instead opted to sunbathe on the nearby grass.

trooping the color pads

Some people didn’t even try to see over the crowd.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

I found a spot at the end of the parade route and had a pretty clear view at the start.

parade route troping color

My view of the parade route.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

When royalty appeared in carriages, however, it was extremely difficult to see over all the camera phones in the sky.

When the parade ended, the barricades on The Mall were removed and everyone was invited to Buckingham Palace to watch an overpass.

buckingham palace coloring

My view of Buckingham Palace.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

The royal family watched from the balcony. My view of them was partially obstructed as a stage was being built for the Platinum Party show, which was to take place later that weekend.

royal family palace balcony

The royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

I felt sorry for the tourists who might have been seeing the palace for the first time that day as it was so busy you couldn’t even take a picture without being bombed.

Mikhaila Friel at Buckingham Palace

Mikhaila Friel at Buckingham Palace.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

Later that night, there was a lighthouse lighting ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

headlight lighting

Lighthouse lighting at Buckingham Palace.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

The palace was isolated and guarded by security, as the event was not open to the public.

Buckingham Palace closed

Buckingham Palace Gardens were closed to the public for the entire weekend.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

The palace was off limits for most of the weekend. On several occasions, when I tried to stop and take a picture, I was urged to “keep moving” by security.

isolated palace

The palace was isolated for most of the weekend.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

On 3 June, images of the queen were projected in the palace. Although this was a spectacular sight, the palace was still partially isolated and you could only walk to The Mall before being stopped by security.

Buckingham Palace

Images of the Queen projected on Buckingham Palace.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

On 4 June, the BBC Platinum Party took place at the Palace. The concert at Buckingham Palace saw the likes of Alicia Keys and Queen and Adam Lambert take the stage.

The concert was open to those who had won tickets in public scrutiny. For those without a ticket, a small screening took place at St. James’s Park, nearby.

st james park display

A display of the Platinum Feast at St. James’ Park was blocked by a tree.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

There was also the option to watch from The Mall. While the atmosphere was electric, it was impossible to see.

concert at the palace mall

Hundreds of people flocked to The Mall to catch a glimpse of the Platinum party.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

The surrounding area was overcrowded with royal fans, security guards, and large groups of police officers on duty.

buckingham palace police

Police officers at Buckingham Palace.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

And it wasn’t just the palace that was busy over the Jubilee weekend. The entire city was overcrowded.

The Ritz

The Ritz hotel in London.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

There were long queues at subway stations.

This was particularly the case in central London after major royal events such as Piccadilly Circus station after the Platinum Festival. I felt bad for Londoners working the area trying to get home.

Piccadilly Circus Station

Piccadilly Circus Station.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

The two things I was sure to see every day were crowds of people and UK flags.

London during the Queen's Jubilee weekend

London during the Queen’s Jubilee weekend.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

Overall, Jubilee weekend was spectacular – but it also taught me that you shouldn’t always trust what you see on TV screens or social media.

Mikhaila at St Paul's Cathedral in London

Mikhaila at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.Mikhaila Friel / Insider

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