UK turns red, white and blue to mark the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II led an armada of 1,000 boats in a gilded royal barge down the River Thames yesterday in the spectacular highlight of four days of celebrations to mark her 60th year on the throne.
Hundreds of thousands of people armed with Union Jack flags and wearing red, white and blue clothes and hats, poured into the British capital from early morning, braving wind and rain to line the 11km route of one of the largest flotillas ever seen on the river.
Up and down the country, millions more attended diamond jubilee street parties over the long holiday weekend in honour of the 86-year-old queen, the only British monarch to have sat on the throne for 60 years along with Queen Victoria, who famously once said: “We are not amused.”
Nothing could have been farther from the truth for the current monarch, who clearly enjoyed her big day as much as the crowds.
Among the masses was Kevin Rogers, 54, who travelled across southern England with his wife and son to bag a viewing spot at London’s Albert Bridge. He said: “With the economy the way it is, this is why we have to have this celebration. It gives people a lift.”
The pageant - the largest of its kind in 350 years - had a floating belfry with a set of eight church bells especially cast for the celebrations at the head.
The queen was on board The Spirit of Chartwell barge with her 90-year-old husband, Prince Philip, and other members of the British royal family, including heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, his eldest son Prince William and wife Kate.
Today, the celebrations continue as the queen will also attend a pop concert in front of Buckingham Palace featuring Elton John and Paul McCartney.
And tomorrow there will be a religious service at St Paul’s Cathedral, a carriage procession through the streets of London and the queen’s appearance on the palace balcony.