‘Strange, confused’: Hollywood steals the Queen’s first Platinum Jubilee extravaganza at the castle

Tom Cruise has had a busy couple of weeks.

The Top Gun: Maverick Hollywood superstar landed in style at the world premiere of his much-anticipated sequel, flying in on a USS Midway helicopter and casually strolling onto the red carpet in San Diego, California on May 5.

He then turned up at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Mexico City with his cast and crew to promote the blockbuster action thriller a few days later.

And on May 15, where else but in the UK, where a global viewing audience was at Queen Elizabeth II’s first major event for her Platinum Jubilee, marking her historic 70 years on the throne.

Hours before the arrival of a stack of British celebrities and performers – including the Queen, escorted by mounted divisions of the Household Cavalry – for the performance of A Gallop Through History at Home Park in Windsor, Cruise was dominating the official broadcaster ITV in a staggering 15-minute interview.

The studio chat left viewers confused, and the British tabloids exploded on social media with headlines including this from The Mirror: “ITV viewers fume as Queen’s Platinum Jubilee special ‘turns into Tom Cruise show’.”

When asked by co-host Phillip Schofield why he accepted the invitation to attend, the 59-year-old actor put on his serious face and said: “What she has accomplished is historic. She has met presidents, world leaders, people from all walks of life.

“Not just Americans, but the world knows the dignity, devotion and kindness. That is what I have always felt about her.

“Someone that understands her position and has held it through a history that’s just been extraordinary the past 70 years.”

And after the chat, which ultimately focused on his back story of making movies and his Top Gun sequel, Cruise was mobbed by fans as he made his way to the arena close to Windsor Castle to introduce a segment for what was described as a “musical and theatrical romp across the centuries”.

Tom in Cruise control

Created by the team behind the BAFTA-winning Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration, the show [on the Seven network on May 20] featured 1300 performers and 500 horses across four acts, which took the audience on a history lesson of the British monarchy.

The 90-minute performance was broken up into separate acts, each hosted by a different celebrity including Damian Lewis, Adjoa Andoh and Alan Titchmarsh.

And then Cruise arrived at the podium.

He introduced a performance by The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, describing it as “one of the most enthralling, thrilling, heart-in-mouth displays”.

If it was any consolation, Dame Helen Mirren, once again playing a queen of England – Queen Elizabeth I – was joined by a cast of ‘Queen’s Players’, introduced by a character called ‘The Herald’, played by British actor Omid Djalili (The Mummy).

The official synopsis says The Herald then “whisks viewers through time linking the acts together, narrating and anchoring the stories and making light of some of the absurdities history presents us with”.

“Each act will reflect on key moments in history, including Elizabeth I’s Tilbury Speech and James I and the Gunpowder Plot.

“The Commonwealth will also be celebrated, as well as the four nations within the United Kingdom. All of this will be interspersed with a number of military and equestrian displays from around the world including Azerbaijan, India, Oman, France, Norway, Switzerland and Trinidad and Tobago.”

Cruise was not alone with his pop culture performance, the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force’s performance of ABBA’s Dancing Queen rapidly became a highlight of the night.

The Queen walks, gets a standing ovation

Despite ongoing mobility issues, the Queen walked to her seat in the royal box and was joined by the Earl and Countess of Wessex for the show that reflected her life-long passion for horses.

She sat in the royal box with a blanket over her knees and a shawl around her shoulders as Djalili, the show’s herald and narrator, at one point made a joke.

He thanked her for choosing the Royal Windsor Horse Show over the State Opening of Parliament.

She waved her left arm as a subtle acknowledgement of where she’d rather be.

However, it was her vast band of ordinary British citizens who were torn between their loyalty to the Queen and their love of Hollywood royalty when they were surprised by Cruise’s ITV appearance and co-hosting gig.

“Polite question. It’s not that I don’t like him but he’s American so why is he involved?” wrote one watcher.

And this sentiment echoed that of many: “Why is he there? He’s got no connection to the UK or the royal family”.

One British podcaster who goes by the name Sharon, wrote: “The #itv #platinumjubilee celebration programme is very strange. I had no idea it was even on.”

“Why isn’t it being broadcasted during the jubilee long weekend? Why has Tom Cruise just promoted his new film? It seems to be just clips of random celebs. I’m very confused.”

Tom Cruise ups the excitement as he arrives in Windsor to change into black tie before taking the Queen and her audience on a gallop through history. Photo: Getty

Readers of the Liverpool Echo newspaper chimed in: “Why did we need 20 minutes of Tom Cruise?”

“I think we’re all wondering … why is Tom Cruise there?” And this: “Why, in the name of all the is British, is @TomCruise the headline name for a jubilee programme????”

The Mirror reported more viewer discontent: “Isn’t this programme meant to be about the Queen’s Jubilee? So why are we spending 15+ mins talking to Tom Cruise about his movies?!”

“ITV it’s more like the Tom Cruise show,” as a third said: “Is this the #queensjubilee celebration or the Tom Cruise show ffs, get him off.”

“This ITV program is not what I thought. Why is Tom Cruise on plugging his movie? I thought this was a concert/pageant type thing to celebrate HM The Queen’s long reign.”

“Tom Cruise is getting more airtime, platitudes and PR from this event than The Queen is. We’ve spent more time talking Top Gun than we have about HM.”

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