U.K. kicks off Platinum Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II

Platinum Jubilee celebrations in the United Kingdom have officially begun, as the nation pays tribute to longtime monarch Queen Elizabeth II's record-breaking 70 years on the throne.

Thousands of Brits gathered in central London on Thursday for a gun salute, as well as the Trooping the Colour military parade marking the queen's official birthday. Around 1 p.m. local time, the 96-year-old monarch herself made an appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, surrounded by members of the royal family, including her son Prince Charles and his son Prince William. Notably absent were both Prince Harry — the queen's grandson, who stepped back from royal duties in 2020 — and Prince Andrew — the queen's second son, whose association with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein has essentially banished him from the spotlight.

High-profile international tributes to the queen and her service meanwhile poured in from all over, including from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron.

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"Your life has been a gift, not just to the United Kingdom, but for the world," former President Barack Obama said in a video message. "It is with gratitude for your leadership and the kindness you've shown me and my family that I say: May the light of your crown continue to reign supreme." In 2016, the former president said the queen was one of his "favorite people."

It seems the young Prince Louis, however, ultimately stole the show on Thursday, with a hilarious and meme-worthy reaction to the Royal Air Force flypast.

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