- Union flags and bunting are out in force across Britain as patriotic residents pay tribute to the monarch
- More than 10,000 street parties are planned over the four-day weekend
- 6,500 roads will be closed off across the UK in the same period
By Ian Gallagher and Chris Hastings
PUBLISHED: 16:51 EST, 2 June 2012 | UPDATED: 05:20 EST, 3 June 2012
The party started yesterday with a burst of patriotic fervour as gun salutes echoed across the country.
But it is today, when the eyes of the world turn to the Thames as the Queen sets sail in her Royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, that the Diamond Jubilee celebrations begin in earnest.
Centuries ago the river was known as London’s ‘grandest street’ because it was so often the stage for pomp and pageantry.
A patriotic knees up: Women from the Elm Green Lane old age pensioners social club get into the British spirit during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations at the Jubilee Family Festival at Hyde Park yesterday
Spec-tacular! Melvin and Ann Newby from south Yorkshire get into the British spirit
Celebration: Residents of Battersea in South London hold a street party yesterday to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
Musical interlude: Organ grinder Patrick Cooke entertains visitors celebrating the Diamond Jubilee at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire
Grand day out: Families enjoyed the hospitality of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, as they gathered to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond’s Jubilee at a 100 metre picnic table
Sea of colour: Visitors to Chatsworth House enjoy an outdoor picnic surrounded by blue, red and white balloons
Honour: Soldiers of the Honorable Artillery Company fire blank rounds during a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London in front of Tower Bridge yesterday
Patriotic: Residents chat to former foreign secretary David Miliband during a street party in Primrose Hill, London
If all goes to plan, those days of old will be matched by the splendour of this afternoon’s tribute to the Queen’s 60-year reign: a seven-mile, 1,000-boat flotilla that will move – thanks to a little tinkering with the Thames Barrier – at a stately 4mph.
For sheer spectacle, the occasion might even eclipse celebrations past, particularly if the sun comes out – and the early indications are that the weather will not be nearly as gloomy as previously predicted.
Yesterday, on the first of four days of nationwide celebrations, Her Majesty was at Epsom for the Derby.
Toasting a special Monarch: Residents of Battersea in south London raised glasses in honour of the Queen’s landmark anniversary
A glorious occasion: People born in all six decades of the Queen’s reign hold one of the first street parties of the Jubilee weekend in Brixton, south London
Fond memories: Cupcakes and flags were the order of the day in East London
Flag waving: Residents of Craven Vale in Brighton celebrate the Diamond Jubilee with a street party. Betty Field, at the front, dressed as the Queen, has lived in the street for more 60 years
Royalty: Two dogs wearing crowns are among those at a street party in Battersea today
Smile: A young girl enjoys an ice cream while celebrating the Diamond Jubilee with her family in London
Sleepy: A baby clutches a Union flag during the Jubilee Family Festival in London today
March past: Soldiers from the Queen’s Guard march down the Mall outside Buckingham Palace in London yesterday
Delicious: Cupcakes are carried out to hungry party-goers during a street party in Fulham yesterday
Uncanny: Participants in a comical parade step out dressed as Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, centre, with Prince Philip, right, as the British-German club Duisburg celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
Adorable: Harry Mount six (left) and Finn Godwin seven (right) dress as Beefeaters in Devon
Normally she visits in a ‘private capacity’ but on this occasion she was driven on to the course itself, and cheered as the Royal motorcade reached the winning post. Afterwards, amid much flag-waving from the crowd, Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins sang the national anthem.
Across the capital, 17 miles away, hundreds of ships mustered along the river. Each vessel was scrupulously scrubbed; the wooden craft among them polished to a mirror finish. Every type of watercraft was represented. From coaster, ketch and tug to Mississippi paddleboat, Hawaiian canoe and canvas-covered fishing boat, built to a design dating back 2,000 years.
At about 3pm today they will take their place in the waterborne procession, headed by a 12-ton floating belfry, whose eight newly cast bells will quarter-peal continuously.
Royalist: Ging the ginger tom-cat with a Union flag bow tie relaxes in the beer garden of a pub in Bridgend pub front beer garden in South Wales
Revelry: Union flags adorn a float during a parade through Chichester
Making the most of it: Children take some time out away from the grown-ups to play at a Fulham street party
Long to watch over us: Residents of Battersea in south London decorated their homes with cardboard cutouts of the Royals as they held a Jubilee street party
Fancy dress: Residents in Brighton don period costume and perform regal waves in honour of the Queen’s 60 years on the throne
Unofficial: Revellers take part in Jubillegal, an alternative river pageant on Regent’s Canel in London
Off we go: Rowers take to Regent’s Canal in London today as part of Jubillegal, an alternative river pageant
Rousing performance: Soldiers from the Queen’s Guard march down the Mall outside Buckingham Palace as part of a dress rehearsal
Ready to party: A specially built concert stage is ready to go for the host of stars expected to perform outside Buckingham Palace
A knitted tribute: One knitting enthusiast left special knitted Royal characters on Saltburn pier in Cleveland in celebration of this weekend’s Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
Don’t tell the corgis: A pair of Jack Russell terriers dressed as the Queen and Prince Philip take a ride in their very own royal carriage
A million people will gather along the seven-mile riverside parade route – manned by 6,000 police – and a further billion across Britain and the globe will watch on television.
Yesterday thousands of Jubilee revellers filled Hyde Park in London at a two-day family festival hosted by Myleene Klass. Crowds enjoyed exclusive West End performances from Billy Elliot The Musical, The Lion King and international hit War Horse.
Elsewhere today there will be fairs, festivals and, of course, street parties – the traditional method of celebrating Royal events.
More than 10,000 applications for street parties have been made, double the number for last year’s Royal wedding. Most will be held today but some of Her Majesty’s patriotic subjects simply couldn’t wait to begin the revelry.
Beer flowed and bunting fluttered in one Salford street yesterday morning, for instance. Helena Street, a row of narrow terrace houses, has held parties for Royal weddings and anniversaries since the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.
It was again turned into a blaze of colour as traffic was banished and neighbours brought tables into the street, barbecues were lit and children played street football under the red, white and blue bunting criss-crossing the road.
Enjoying the view: Two ladies enjoy the view from an open-top green bus next to a cardboard cut-out of Queen Elizabeth II at the Derby meeting at Epsom racecourse
United Jacks: Racegoers Carole and Roger Peck, both wearing Jubilee themed fancy dress, eagerly await the arrival of the Queen at Epsom Racecourse
Fit for royalty: A workman adds the final touches to the Royal Barge Gloriana in Richmond, London, yesterday morning ahead of the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant tomorrow
These rowers got a rare close up look at the Royal emblem on the Royal Barge Gloriana as they went for an early morning trip on the River Thames
The atmosphere was no less joyous in the more rarefied surroundings of the Chatsworth estate in Derbyshire, home to the Duke of Devonshire, where visitors took their places at a 100-yard picnic table.
Celebrations are taking place in the most unlikely of places both at home and abroad. Gibraltar, for example, is set to antagonise the government of Spain by organising its own Diamond Jubilee 100-boat flotilla around the Rock.
It follows Queen Sofia of Spain’s decision to cancel a visit to Britain to mark the jubilee because of disputes over the UK territory, which Spain also claims. Flotilla organiser Ros Astengo said: ‘Aside from enthusiasm on the Rock, we expect plenty of Brits and other nationalities to come and join in the Jubilee pomp.’
On tiny Rockall islet, 225 miles west of the Outer Hebrides and the most far-flung part of the UK, chartered surveyor Nick Hancock, from Edinburgh, unfurled a Union flag. Afterwards, as he sat on the 100ft wide volcanic rock, he tweeted a jubilee message of congratulations to the Queen.
Flying the flag: A policeman stands guard in front of Number 10 Downing Street decorated with bunting as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations
In the seaside town of Morecambe in Lancashire today, 360 tables each measuring 6ft will stretch almost half a mile along the promenade. ‘We are aiming to be the longest Diamond Jubilee street party,’ said Tricia Heath, a local councillor.
Villagers in Thurlestone in Devon are holding a party around a red phone box which they bought for £1 and decorated with bunting. Villager Kit Marshall said: ‘We’ve told everyone to bring a crown, a drink and have a bit of a jolly.’
And four gardeners have spent two days mowing a giant 60ft by 40ft Union Jack into the west lawn of Felbrigg Hall, a National Trust property in Norfolk. Yesterday began early for hundreds of soldiers who rode on horseback through the deserted streets of London at dawn to rehearse the State Procession. While most of the capital was still sleeping, members of the Armed Forces performed a full dress rehearsal ahead of the spectacle on Tuesday.
Going all out: This patriotic homeowner in Albury, Surrey, has covered their house in Union Jack bunting and even placed a cardboard cutout of the Queen in their front garden
Tall order: Ships too tall to travel the length of the Thames have started mooring up next to Tower bridge in preparation for the River Boat Pageant to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee on Sunday
Sleepyhead: The long preparations ahead of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations seem to have tired out this soldier from The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment as they carried out a dress rehearsal early Friday morning of the State Procession
The weekend’s events
Later, a 41-gun Royal Salute echoed across London, marking the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. The salute, fired by The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, coincided with gun salutes fired from official Saluting Points around the UK, including the Tower of London. Fired by six guns, it followed the Major General’s Parade which drew crowds to Horse Guards Parade.
In all, more than six million people are expected to mark the Jubilee with some form of celebration today. There will be an estimated 1,500 miles of bunting and Tesco is expecting to sell two million bottles of champagne, 2.8 million Victoria sponges, 1.6 million sausage rolls, 1.7 million pork pies, one million Scotch eggs and two million punnets of strawberries.
Asda said it had sold a million Union Jacks – enough to cover 462 football pitches. It was selling a pair of Union Jack socks every three seconds at its stores across Britain.
Robbie Feather, general merchandise director for Sainsbury’s, said: ‘Record sales of flags and bunting were seen in 2011 thanks to the Royal Wedding but current indications show that the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is set to far outstrip last year’s demand.’