Platinum Jubilee pageant: Giant dragon puppet to be centrepiece for £15m celebrations

·Royal Correspondent
·5 min read

Watch: Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to be celebrated with national events

A giant dragon puppet the size of a double-decker bus will be a focal point of the "spectacular" £15m pageant that will be the focal point of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

With the pageant scheduled to take place on 5 June preparations are well under way for the entire jubilee weekend.

More than 10,000 people are expected to be involved in the pageant with thousands of military personal expected to be part of the procession.

The pageant will be one of the final events across a four day weekend celebrating the Queen's 70 years on the throne and will have three acts — ceremonial, celebration and finale.

The ceremonial stage will involve thousands of veterans and serving members of the armed forces marching with military precision in London, followed by a celebration stage including circus acts, street theatre, dancing and flag displays.

Co-chair of the committee organising the pageant Nicholas Coleridge told Yahoo UK: "She [the Queen] has kept well in touch, via Sir Edward Young, her top man. She likes to have reports.

"He is still smiling which makes me think there have been no complaints."

The puppet has a wingspan wider than the Mall in London. (Trigger)
The puppet has a wingspan wider than the Mall in London. (Trigger)

Read more: In pictures: 70 years of the Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

Coleridge told Yahoo UK that the organisers were keenly aware many people are looking forward to the celebration after years of COVID.

He said: "There is going to be so much pent up enthusiasm for celebration and jubilation - we are going to be pushing on an open door."

He added that there is an "extraordinary" appreciation for the Queen and her long reign, "regardless of what views are on society or monarchy".

"I think the market squares of Britain are going to be teeming with folk, the pubs will be staying open late, and people will be in the mood for it," he said.

The budget for the pageant is between £10-15m, which organisers say is in line with the costs of previous celebrations.

Watch: The Queen and Prince Charles Launch Green Canopy Project

Read more: Platinum jubilee: How old was the Queen when she came to the throne?

It will be self-funded, through partnerships and by donations, with the team "halfway there" on the budget.

Coleridge said: "We do due diligence [on donations] with all our partnerships.

"The sort of people who want to be generous and get behind the event have so far been a marvellous lot, without any problems surrounding them at all.

"We have to be careful."

Sir Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse, has been enlisted by the pageant team, and has written There Once is a Queen, which has been used to tell the story of the Queen's 70-year reign.

Pageant master Adrian Evans said the pageant would be a "spectacular unfolding" of "her 70-year reign and our transforming society".

Evans said the event would also have references to the late Prince Philip, saying "he is a constant presence".

Undated handout concept image issued by the Platinum Jubilee Pageant of marching bands who will make up part of the Jubilee celebration. The marching bands, a giant dragon puppet and circus acts will form part of a spectacular pageant to celebrate the Queen' Issue date: Tuesday June 29, 2021.
Marching bands who will make up part of the Jubilee celebration. The marching bands, a giant dragon puppet and circus acts will form part of a spectacular pageant to celebrate the Queen. (Platinum Jubilee Pageant)
Undated handout concept image issued by the Platinum Jubilee Pageant of acrobats and other performers who will make up part of the Jubilee celebration. Marching bands, a giant dragon puppet and circus acts will form part of a spectacular pageant to celebrate the Queen' Issue date: Tuesday June 29, 2021.
Acrobats and other performers who will make up part of the jubilee celebration. (Platinum Jubilee Pageant)

Read more: Platinum Jubilee concert: Who's performing and can I get tickets?

The pageant will examine each decade of her reign through the eyes of teenagers, looking at the change that happened, and adding her own interests into the mix, like playful corgis and horses.

Her accession will be explored with the use of animals reacting to the news of the new Queen, because she was in Kenya when her father died in February 1952.

The dragon has been chosen to lead the procession, a 6.5m tall ceremonial puppet made by outdoor arts producers Trigger, based in Bristol.

'The Hatchling' dragon debuted in Plymouth last year to help people celebrate freedom after a year of isolation. She unfolded her wings, and flew from a cliff top and over the sea.

It's the largest puppet ever to be operated solely by humans, with a team of 36 puppeteers rotating in teams of 15.

There will also be a thank you dance for key workers, a parade of flags designed by schoolchildren from around the Commonwealth, and a trapeze artist suspended underneath a huge balloon printed with an image of the Queen.

Evans said: "We are inspired by the Queen’s regard for family values, her care for community, her love of the natural environment, her passion for equestrianism and her constant corgi companions."

Pageant Master Adrian Evans at the launch of Platinum Jubilee Pageant at the Victoria And Albert Museum, London. Plans have been unveiled for celebrations in June 2022 which will mark the Queen's 70th year on the throne with a Pageant next June. Picture date: Tuesday June 29, 2021. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Pageant master Adrian Evans at the launch of Platinum Jubilee Pageant at the Victoria And Albert Museum, London. (Getty)
Pageant Co-Chair Nicholas Coleridge at the launch of Platinum Jubilee Pageant at the Victoria And Albert Museum, London. Plans have been unveiled for celebrations in June 2022 which will mark the Queen's 70th year on the throne with a Pageant next June. Picture date: Tuesday June 29, 2021. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Pageant co-chair Nicholas Coleridge at the launch of Platinum Jubilee Pageant. (Getty)

Although the events of 5 June will take place in London, organisers will be involving people from across the country and the Commonwealth, and hope to create lasting legacies of the jubilee within the artists' communities.

Creative organisations from Plymouth, Coventry, Bristol and more have already been enlisted, including Cirque Bijou and Imagineer Productions.

Schoolchildren in Belfast, Boston, Cardiff, Coventry, the Highlands of Scotland, Liverpool, London, and Stockton-on-Tees, as well as overseas in Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Pakistan, Rwanda and Tanzania, will design flags to be carried by 200 dancers in the parade.