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Stonehenge images of Queen Elizabeth II spark controversy ahead of Platinum Jubilee

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LONDON — As part of preparations for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, eight portraits of the monarch have been projected onto the ancient stone faces of Stonehenge, one from each decade of her 70-year reign.

The projection of the 96-year-old man onto the 5,000-year-old monument was called a ‘spellbinding tribute’ from organizers – but the merger of two of Britain’s most iconic stalwarts has sparked controversy on social media.

Some have said the World Heritage site in Wiltshire, England should remain intact, citing its apparent history as an ancient religious site. Others said it was “in bad taste” to turn the prehistoric monument into a real billboard.

“It’s crazy, or should I say, completely insane”, read a of nearly 6,000 replies to the tweet.

Others seemed more enthusiastic about the idea, with one person marking the tribute “thronehenge.” The Queen’s former press secretary and royal commentator Dickie Arbiter called out the series of images “beautiful.”

Stonehenge, believed to have been built in stages between 3000 and 1520 BC, has remained a focus of historical speculation for centuries. Although the purpose of the site is unknown, English Heritage concluded that “there must be some spiritual reason why Neolithic and Bronze Age people went to such lengths to build it”.

Other analysts say the sarsen stones may have served as a giant solar calendar so people knew the time of year. Experts have also concluded that the site hosted parties and ceremonies, with a 2019 study finding that Stonehenge served as a “hub for Britain’s first mass parties”.

Research and excavations at the site, which also served as a burial site, continue. The stones are positioned to align with the movements of the sun. Experts in the 17th and 18th centuries believed it served as a Druidic temple, and even to this day modern Druids flock to the site to celebrate the spiritually significant summer and winter solstices.

People buried at Stonehenge 5,000 years ago came a long way, study finds

English Heritage Trust, the organization responsible for managing hundreds of historic sites including Stonehenge, told the Washington Post the exhibit was part of a “range of events and activities” taking place across the country on its sites to celebrate the jubilee.

“From the 2012 Summer Olympics to the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War, Stonehenge has played a role in marking important moments in the recent history of this country, including – now – the Platinum Jubilee”, English Heritage said in a statement.

Queen Elizabeth II attends the first Jubilee event and receives a standing ovation

Although English Heritage did not comment on the backlash, it said it had previously released footage of Stonehenge.

In 2020, as a recent example, the faces of eight people who have helped support Britain’s art and heritage sectors amid the coronavirus pandemic were projected onto the stones. And in November 2014, images of World War I soldiers were projected onto the monument as part of a military tribute.

Images of the Queen also appear in homes and shop windows and are featured on other iconic sites including The London Marble Arch.

“Stonehenge’s history continues to evolve and change,” says English Heritage on its official website, adding that “an air of mystery and intrigue” will always shroud the complex and widely debated history of the site.

Jubilee celebrations are set to start Thursday and run through Sunday, with street parties across the country, the annual British Army Trooping the Color ceremony (Prince William led a rehearsal over the weekend ) and a traditional appearance on the balcony of the royal family.

Prince William takes center stage at Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee rehearsal

Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.