Monthly Archives: June 2012

Father’s Day in United Kingdom

Father’s Day is held on the third Sunday of June in the United Kingdom. It is a day to honor fathers and father figures, such as grandfathers and fathers-in-law. Many people make a special effort to visit their fathers or to send them a card or gifts.

Kissing DaddyFathers are appreciated on Father’s Day. © Bishop

What do people do?

On Father’s Day, many people make a special effort to visit their father. They often take or send cards and gifts. Common Father’s Day gifts are ties, socks, underwear, sweaters, slippers and other items of clothing. Other people give tools for household maintenance or garden work, luxury food items or drinks.

Many Father’s Day gifts have slogans such as “The World’s Best Dad”, “For My Father” or just a simple “Dad” on them. The increase in print-on-demand services offered by photo processing companies has made personalized gifts even more popular for Father’s Day. Photographs of children can be printed on desk calendars, mugs, T-shirts, mouse mats, bags and even ties. Many fathers are expected to take these to the office to remind them of their families while they are working.

In the days and weeks before Father’s Day, many schools, Sunday schools and children’s organizations help their pupils to prepare a handmade card or gift for their father. Mothers and other family members may help children to make personalized gifts, such as calendars with drawings made by the children.

Some families celebrate Father’s Day by planning an outing or weekend trip, perhaps just for the male members of the family. This may be a simple walk in the countryside or a whole planned “experience”. Popular Father’s Day experiences include driving a fire engine, rally car, tank or even airplane or taking a golf, football or cricket lesson with a celebrity coach. Other families organize a special meal at home or in a pub or restaurant. A common Father’s Day meal is a traditional roast dinner with meat, stuffing, potatoes and vegetables, which can be eaten in a pub and accompanied by pints of ale or lager.

Public life

Father’s Day is not a bank holiday. In terms of public life, it is a normal Sunday. Public transport systems run to their normal timetables. Pubs and restaurants may be busy, as people take their fathers out for a meal to celebrate.


There are some suggestions that the idea of Father’s Day may originate in pagan sun worship. Some branches of paganism see the sun as the father of the universe. Since the summer solstice occurs around the same time of year as Father’s Day, some people see a link between the two.

The idea of a special day to honor fathers and celebrate fatherhood was introduced from the United States. There, a woman called Sonora Smart Dodd was inspired by the American Mother’s Day celebrations to plan a day to honor fathers. Father’s Day has been celebrated in June since 1910 in the USA. The celebrations in the United Kingdom are thought to have been inspired by the American custom of Father’s Day. This is in contrast to Mother’s Day, which has a very different history in the United States and the United Kingdom.

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The Diamond Jubilee Concert

The stars are out and the stage is set… the Diamond Jubilee Concert is now HERE! Staged in the surroundings of Buckingham Palace and the Queen Victoria Memorial, the concert represents 6 decades of music during the Queen’s reign. With acts including Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Robbie Williams, Jessie J, JLS and more…all there’s left to do is turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy the performances!

Photo: The stars are out and the stage is set… the Diamond Jubilee Concert is now HERE! Staged in the surroundings of Buckingham Palace and the Queen Victoria Memorial, the concert represents 6 decades of music during the Queen’s reign. With acts including Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Robbie Williams, Jessie J, JLS and more…all there’s left to do is turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy the performances!

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The Central Weekend 2 – 5 June 2012

1,000 boats took to the River Thames to mark The Queen's Diamond Jubilee  ©PA1,000 boats took to the River Thames to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee ©PA

The Central Weekend to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee takes place from Saturday 2 June to Tuesday 5 June 2012, with celebratory activities throughout the UK and across the Commonwealth

If you are considering visiting central London to join in with the celebrations, you may find it useful to visit the Transport for London website

Alternatively, you may wish to consider watching events on one of the many BBC Big Screens around the UK.

For information about the Official Diamond Jubilee Souvenir Programme click here.

Here is our run-down  of events over the Diamond Jubilee weekend, including approximate timings:

Saturday 2 June, 2012
The Queen attended the Epsom Derby. Find out more.

Sunday 3 June, 2012
The Big Jubilee Lunch: Building on the already popular Big Lunch initiative, people were encouraged to share lunch with neighbours and friends as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Read the British Monarchy’s blog about the Big Lunch.

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant: This event took place on the Thames and consisted of up to 1,000 boats assembled from across the UK, the Commonwealth and around the world. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh travelled in the Royal Barge which formed the centrepiece of the flotilla.

Read the British Monarchy’s blog about the Pageant

Monday 4 June, 2012
BBC Concert at Buckingham Palace: There will be a televised Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace with tickets being available to UK residents by public ballot. The musical programme for the concert is still being planned and is expected to feature British and Commonwealth musicians. Details on how to apply for the concert will be available in due course. This event is being organised by the BBC. Find out more

Read the British Monarchy’s blog about the concert.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons: A network of 2,012 Beacons will be lit by communities and individuals throughout the United Kingdom, as well as the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Commonwealth. As in 2002, The Queen will light the National Beacon. Find out more

Read the British Monarchy’s blog about the Beacons.

Approximate timings are as follows:

19:30BST  – Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace begins

After 22:30BST – The Queen lights the National Beacon outside Buckingham Palace 

Tuesday 5 June, 2012
On Tuesday 5 June, the Diamond Jubilee weekend will culminate with a day of celebrations in central London, including a service at St Paul’s Cathedral followed by two receptions, a lunch at Westminster Hall, a Carriage Procession to Buckingham Palace and finally a Balcony appearance, Flypast, and Feu de Joie. Find out more.

Download the Order of Service

Read the British Monarchy’s blog about the Ceremonial Day

Approximate timings are as follows:

10:15BST – The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace by car

10:30-11.30BST – Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s

12.30BST – The Queen travels by car from Mansion House to the Palace of Westminster

14:20BST – Carriage Procession from Westminster Hall to Buckingham Palace commences

Approximately 15:25BST – Royal Family appear on the Balcony at Buckingham Palace

Members of the Media seeking accreditation for these events should visit:

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The Queen’s Life: an introduction

The Queen as Princess Elizabeth © Camera PressThe Queen as Princess Elizabeth © Camera Press

The Queen as Princess Elizabeth © Camera Press Christening of Princess Elizabeth © PA Princess Elizabeth in the Auxiliary Territorial Service © Imperial War Museum Official christening portrait of Princess Elizabeth © PA On the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1937 © Camera Press/Imperial War Museum Princess Elizabeth in 1930 © PA In the vegetable gardens at Windsor Castle © Camera Press/Studio Lisa At the wedding of Lady May Cambridge and Captain Henry Abel Smith © PA Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret playing in a sand pit © Camera Press/Spice Princess Elizabeth with her parents © Camera Press/Marcus Adams at the wedding of the Hon. Patricia Mountbatten and Lord Brabourne © PA Princess Elizabeth arrives at her home in Piccadilly, London © PA

Find out more about The Queen’s childhood and early life

The Queen was born Princess Elizabeth of York at 2.40am on 21 April 1926 at 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London.

She was the first child of The Duke and Duchess of York, who were later crowned King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

At the time of her birth, Princess Elizabeth stood third in line of succession to the throne after Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), and her father, The Duke of York. But it was not expected that her father would become King, or that she would become Queen.

The Princess was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace. She was named after her mother, while her two middle names are those of her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra, and paternal grandmother, Queen Mary.

The Princess’s early years were spent at 145 Piccadilly, the London house taken by her parents shortly after her birth, and at White Lodge in Richmond Park.

She also spent time at the country homes of her paternal grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, and her mother’s parents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore.

In 1930, Princess Elizabeth gained a sister, with the birth of Princess Margaret Rose. The family of four was very close.

When she was six years old, her parents took over Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park as their own country home. In the grounds of Royal Lodge Princess Elizabeth had her own small house, Y Bwthyn Bach (the Little Cottage), which was given to her by the people of Wales in 1932.

Princess Elizabeth’s quiet family life came to an end in 1936, when her grandfather, King George V, died.

His eldest son came to the throne as King Edward VIII, but, before the end of the year, King Edward VIII had decided to give up the throne in order to marry the woman he loved, Mrs Wallis Simpson.

Upon his abdication, Princess Elizabeth’s father acceded to the throne as King George VI, and in 1937 the two Princesses attended their parents’ coronation in Westminster Abbey.

Princess Elizabeth was now first in line to the throne, and a figure of even more intense public interest.

Listen to Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret speak to children across the world during the Second World War:

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The role of the Sovereign

The Imperial State Crown © PA
The Imperial State Crown © PA The Queen and President Obama at a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace  © PA The Queen at the Cenotaph for the 2011 Remembrance Day Service © PA

The Imperial State Crown, which is traditionally worn by the Sovereign at the conclusion of the Coronation service, when leaving Westminster Abbey, and also for the State Opening of Parliament. © Press Association

What is the role of The Queen and what part does she play in the life of the nation? Find out about Her Majesty’s official duties and working life

The British Sovereign can be seen as having two roles: Head of State and ‘Head of the Nation’.

As Head of State, The Queen undertakes constitutional and representational duties which have developed over one thousand years of history.

There are inward duties, with The Queen playing a part in State functions in Britain. Parliament must be opened, Orders in Council have to be approved, Acts of Parliament must be signed, and meetings with the Prime Minister must be held.

There are also outward duties of State, when The Queen represents Britain to the rest of the world. For example, The Queen receives foreign ambassadors and high commissioners, entertains visiting Heads of State, and makes State visits overseas to other countries, in support of diplomatic and economic relations.

As ‘Head of Nation’, The Queen’s role is less formal, but no less important for the social and cultural functions it fulfils.

These include: providing a focus for national identity, unity and pride; giving a sense of stability and continuity; recognising success, achievement and excellence; and supporting service to others, particularly through public service and the voluntary sector.

These roles are performed through different types of engagement.

By means of regular visits through every part of the United Kingdom, The Queen is able to act as a focus for national unity and identity.

Through her engagements and walkabouts, The Queen is able to meet people from every walk of life. The Queen’s unifying role as Sovereign is also shown in her special relationships with the devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales.

In addition, at times of national celebration or tragedy, The Queen publicly represents the nation’s mood – for example, at celebrations for a national sporting victory or at the annual commemoration of the war dead on Remembrance Sunday.

The Queen also has an essential role in providing a sense of stability and continuity in times of political and social change. The system of constitutional monarchy bridges the discontinuity of party politics.

While political parties change constantly, the Sovereign continues as Head of State, providing a stable framework within which a government can introduce wide-ranging reforms.

With almost six decades’ experience of reading State papers, meeting Heads of State and ambassadors and holding a weekly audience with the Prime Minister, The Queen has an unequalled store of experience upon which successive Prime Ministers have been able to draw.

The Queen is able to recognise success and achievement in a personal way. These include honours, awards, visits, patronage and sponsorship. At Investitures, for example, The Queen honours individuals for public service or outstanding achievement.

The Queen’s role is to:

Perform the ceremonial and official duties of Head of State, including representing Britain to the rest of the world;

Provide a focus for national identity and unity;

Provide stability and continuity in times of change;

Recognise achievement and excellence;

Encourage public and voluntary service.

The Queen also hosts garden parties to which guests from all backgrounds are invited, most of whom are nominated by charities or public sector organisations for their service to their communities.

Watch a video about garden parties given by The Queen:

In the thousands of messages sent by The Queen each year to people celebrating their 100th birthdays or diamond weddings, Her Majesty is able to give special and personal recognition of remarkable individuals.

The Queen also supports service to others, through close relationships with the voluntary and charitable sector. About 3,000 organisations list a member of the Royal Family as patron or president. The Queen has over 600 patronages and The Duke of Edinburgh over 700.

In all these roles, The Queen is supported by members of the Royal Family, who carry out many of the engagements which Her Majesty cannot undertake in person.

Watch a video of Prince William (later The Duke of Cambridge) opening the Supreme Court of New Zealand on behalf of The Queen:


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The Queen’s Accession and Coronation

In the grounds of Sagana Lodge in Kenya © PA
In the grounds of Sagana Lodge in Kenya © PA The Queen sets foot on British soil for the first time since her accession © PA The Queen on the day of the Proclamation of her Accession © PA At the funeral of King George VI © PA The Queen in her Coronation Robes © Camera Press Coronation Ceremony in Westminster Abbey © Camera Press Returning to Buckingham Palace after the Coronation Ceremony © PA Waving to crowds from the balcony at Buckingham Palace © PA The newly-crowned Queen with members of the Royal Family © PA
Princess Elizabeth with The Duke of Edinburgh in the grounds of Sagana Lodge in Kenya on the first stage of their Commonwealth tour, 2 February 1952. Four days later, she received the news of her father’s death and her own accession to the throne. The tour was abandoned, and the young Princess flew back to Britain as Queen. © Press Association

Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne as Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952 and was crowned on 2 June 1953

After her marriage in 1947, Princess Elizabeth paid formal visits with The Duke of Edinburgh to France and Greece, and in autumn 1951 they toured Canada.

Princess Elizabeth also visited Malta four times while Prince Philip was stationed there on naval duties, and enjoyed the life of a naval wife and young mother.

This way of life was not to last long, as her father’s health was deteriorating. In 1952, King George VI’s illness forced him to abandon his proposed visit to Australia and New Zealand. The Princess, accompanied by Prince Philip, took his place.

On Wednesday, 6 February 1952, Princess Elizabeth received the news of her father’s death and her own accession to the throne, while staying in a remote part of Kenya.

The tour had to be abandoned, and the young Princess flew back to Britain as Queen. She was greeted by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other officials at the airport.

View three films from the archives charting the death of King George VI and The Queen’s Accession and Coronation.

Part One, The King’s Death:

Part Two, The Queen’s Accession:

Part Three, the Coronation:

The Coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. It was a solemn ceremony conducted by Dr Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Representatives of the peers, the Commons and all the great public interests in Britain, the Prime Ministers and leading citizens of the other Commonwealth countries, and representatives of foreign states were present.

Crowds of people viewed the procession all along the route, despite heavy rain. The ceremony was also broadcast on radio around the world and, at The Queen’s request, on television for the first time.

Television brought home to hundreds of thousands of people around the Commonwealth the splendour and significance of the Coronation in a way never before possible.

The Coronation was followed by drives through every part of London, a review of the fleet at Spithead, and visits to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

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The Queen’s reign by decade

Find out more about The Queen’s reign over the past 60 years, decade by decade

The Queen’s reign has provided a focus for national unity and identity and given a sense of stability and continuity during six decades of enormous social and political change.

Choose a decade below to find out more.

The first decade of The Queen’s reign included extensive travel overseas, visits to all parts of the United Kingdom, and the birth of Her Majesty’s third child

The second decade of The Queen’s reign was marked by the birth of Her Majesty’s fourth child, historic visits and the first Commonwealth Day message

The third decade of The Queen’s reign included a number of milestone events, causes for public and private celebration

The fouth decade of The Queen’s reign was marked by conflict in the Falklands and Middle East, visits to the Commonwealth and the breaking down of political and religious barriers

The fifth decade of The Queen’s reign led into a new century and the third millennium

Milestones and historic events have been key features of The Queen’s sixth decade as Sovereign

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The Queen’s visits

The Queen has travelled more than any other Sovereign in history. Find out more about overseas visits undertaken by Her Majesty since 1952

In 60 years, The Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 96 State Visits, to 116 different countries.

Since Her Majesty’s first official overseas visit to South Africa in 1947, as Princess Elizabeth, overseas visits have become one of her most important duties.

The Queen pays two outward State visits each year, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh. She also regularly tours her other realms and member countries of the Commonwealth.

During her reign, The Queen has visited countries which no other British monarch has ever visited.

Historic firsts have included the first State visits by a reigning monarch to China in 1986, Russia in October 1994, Brunei and Malaysia in 1998, and Korea in 1999.

Another historic visit was a six-day State visit to South Africa in April 1995, the first since 1947 following the end of apartheid.

Latterly, The Queen has paid State visits to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in October 2006, and State visits to Slovenia and Slovakia in October 2008.

Her Majesty paid a State visit to The United States of America to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement in May 2007.

In March 2006 The Queen visited Australia and Singapore for the Commonwealth Games, and in 2007 The Queen was present at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Uganda.

Commonwealth visits during The Queen’s reign
Click here to view a list of every visit undertaken to a Commonwealth country by The Queen since 1952.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings
Click here to view a list of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGMs) the Queen has attended during her reign. The dates are the full dates of the CHOGM Meetings, along with the host cities.

Outward State visits since 1952
Click here to view a list of every outbound State visit undertaken by The Queen during her reign. On each occasion, Her Majesty was accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh.

Inward State Visits during The Queen’s reign
Click here to view a list of every inbound State visit which has taken place since Her Majesty’s accession to the throne.

Pinning The Queen’s History
Click here to find out more about how you can contribute to an online gallery celebrating Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.

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60 Facts about The Queen

Did you know…?

As at 1 January 2012:

1. The Queen is the second longest serving monarch. Only five other kings and queens in British history have reigned for 50 years or more. They are:
•    Victoria (63 years)
•    George III (59 years)
•    Henry III (56 years)
•    Edward III (50 years)
•    James VI of Scotland (James I of England) (58 years)

2. The Queen is the fortieth monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England.

3. Since 1952 The Queen has given Royal Assent to more than 3,500 Acts of Parliament.

4. Over the reign, Her Majesty has given regular audiences to 12 Prime Ministers.  They are:
•    Winston Churchill 1951-55
•    Sir Anthony Eden 1955-57
•    Harold Macmillan 1957-63
•    Sir Alec Douglas-Home 1963-64
•    Harold Wilson 1964-70 and 1974-76
•    Edward Heath 1970-74
•    James Callaghan 1976-79
•    Margaret Thatcher 1979-90
•    John Major 1990-97
•    Tony Blair 1997-2007
•    Gordon Brown 2007-2010
•    David Cameron 2010 – present

5. Tony Blair was the first Prime Minister to have been born during The Queen’s reign. He was born in early May, 1953 – a month before the Coronation.

6. The Queen has attended every opening of Parliament except those in 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.

7. There have been six Archbishops of Canterbury during The Queen’s reign (Archbishops Geoffrey Fisher, Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggan, Robert Runcie, George Carey and Rowan Williams).

8. There have been six Roman Catholic Popes during The Queen’s reign (Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI).

9. The Queen has received two Popes on visits to the UK (Pope John Paul II in 1982 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2010). Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1982 was the first Papal visit to the United Kingdom for over 450 years. Her Majesty has officially visited the Vatican three times in her reign – in 1961 visiting Pope John XXIII and in 1980 and 2000 visiting Pope John Paul II.

10. The Queen is currently patron of over 600 charities and organisations, over 400 of which she has held since 1952.

11. Since 1952, The Queen has conferred over 404,500 honours and awards.

12. The Queen has personally held over 610 Investitures.

13. The first Investiture of the Queen’s reign took place at Buckingham Palace on 27th February 1952.  The first person to be presented was Private William Speakman, of The King’s Own Scottish Borderers, who received the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Korean War.

14. The Queen has answered around three and a half million items of correspondence.

15. The Queen has sent over 175,000 telegrams to centenarians in the UK and the Commonwealth.

16. The Queen has sent almost 540,000 telegrams to couples in the UK and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding (60 years) anniversary.

17. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have sent approximately 45,000 Christmas cards during The Queen’s reign.

18. The Queen has given out approximately 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI

19. In 60 years, The Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 96 State Visits, to 116 different countries.

20. Many of The Queen’s official tours were undertaken on the Royal Yacht Britannia.  It was launched by Her Majesty on 16th April 1953 and was commissioned for service on 7th January 1954.  It was de-commissioned in December, 1997.  During this time, Britannia travelled more than a million miles on Royal and official duties.

21. The Royal Yacht Britannia was first used by The Queen when Her Majesty embarked with the Duke of Edinburgh on the 1st May 1954 at Tobruk for the final stage of their Commonwealth Tour returning to the Pool of London.  The last time The Queen was on board Britannia for an official visit was on the 9th August 1997 for a visit to Arran in Scotland.

22. In 60 years, The Queen has often travelled to her major Realms. Her Majesty has visited Australia 16 times, Canada 22 times, Jamaica 6 times and New Zealand 10 times.

23. The Queen’s official visits have ranged from the Cocos Islands, 5.4 square miles with a population of 596, to The Peoples’ Republic of China, 3.7 million square miles with a population of 1.34 billion.

24. Unusual live gifts given to The Queen on foreign tours include: two tortoises given to The Queen in the Seychelles in 1972; a seven-year-old bull elephant called “Jumbo” given to Her Majesty by the President of Cameroon in 1972 to mark The Queen’s Silver Wedding, and two black beavers given to The Queen after a Royal visit to Canada.

25. The only time The Queen has had to interrupt an overseas tour was in 1974 during a tour of Australia and Indonesia.  The Queen was called back to the UK from Australia when a general election in the UK was suddenly called.  The Duke of Edinburgh continued the programme in Australia, and The Queen re-joined the tour in Indonesia.

26. Her Majesty’s first Commonwealth tour, as Queen, began on 24 November 1953, and included visits to Canada, Bermuda, Jamaica, Panama, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, the Cocos Islands, Ceylon, Aden, Uganda, Libya, Malta and Gibraltar.  The total distance covered was 43,618 miles.

27. The Queen made an historic visit to the Republic of Ireland in May 2011, the first visit by a British Monarch since Irish independence (King George V’s had visited in 1911).

28. There have been 102 inward State Visits from 1952 to the end of 2011 (up to and including Turkey in November 2011).

29. The first football match The Queen attended was the 1953 FA Cup Final.

30. The Queen has laid her wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday every year of her reign, except in 1959, 1961, 1963, 1968, 1983 and 1999 when she was either pregnant or overseas on an official visit.

31. The Queen has attended 56 Royal Maundy services in 43 Cathedrals during her reign.  A total of 6,710 people have received Maundy Money in recognition of their service to the Church and their communities.

32. The Queen has been at the saluting base of her troops in every Trooping the Colour ceremony since the start of her reign, with the exception of 1955, when a national rail strike forced the cancellation of the parade.

33. The Queen has attended 35 Royal Variety performances.

34. The Queen has launched 21 ships during her reign.

35. Since it was launched to mark The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service has been awarded to over 750 voluntary organisations across all four countries in the UK. Winners of the award have included local scout groups, community radio stations, groups who care for the elderly and environmental charities.

36. Over the course of the reign, almost a one and a half million people have attended garden parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse (The Queen ended Debutante Presentation Parties in 1958).

37. The Queen has sat for 129 portraits during her reign.

38. The first ‘Royal walkabout’ took place during the visit by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to Australia and New Zealand in 1970. The practice was introduced to allow them to meet as many people as possible, not simply officials and dignitaries.

39. In 1969 the first television film about the family life of the Royal Family was made, and shown on the eve of the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales.

40. An important innovation during The Queen’s reign was the opening in 1962 of a new gallery at Buckingham Palace to display items from the Royal Collection. The brainchild of The Duke of Edinburgh, the new Queen’s Gallery occupied the space of the Palace’s bomb-damaged private chapel. It was the first time that parts of the Palace had been opened to the general public.  The new Queen’s Gallery was redeveloped and re-opened in 2002 for the Golden Jubilee.

41. The Queen has made a Christmas Broadcast to the Commonwealth every year of her reign except 1969, when a repeat of the film ‘Royal Family’ was shown and a written message from The Queen issued. In 2002 The Queen made her 50th Christmas Broadcast and in 2004 The Queen issued her first separate broadcast for members of the British Armed Forces.

42. In 1953, The Queen made the first Christmas Broadcast from overseas, (rather than from the UK), broadcasting live from New Zealand. The first televised broadcast was in 1957, made live. The first pre-recorded broadcast took place in 1960 to allow transmission around the world. In 2006 the Christmas Broadcast was first made available to download as a podcast.

43. The Queen launched the British Monarchy’s official website in 1997. In 2007 the official British Monarchy YouTube channel was unveiled, swiftly followed by a Royal Twitter site (2009), Flickr page (2010) and Facebook page (also 2010).

44. The Queen hosts “theme days” and Receptions to promote and celebrate aspects of British culture. Recent examples from 2011 include a reception for Young People and the Performing Arts and for Explorers. Other themes have included Publishing, Broadcasting, Tourism, Emergency Services, Maritime Day, Music, Young Achievers, British Design, and Pioneers.

45. In an average year, The Queen will host more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace. The Queen also hosts more than 8,000 people each year at garden parties and investitures at Holyroodhouse, during Holyrood Week.

46. The Queen was born at 17 Bruton St, London W1 on the 21st April, 1926, was christened on the 29th May, 1926 in the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace and was confirmed on the 28th March, 1942 in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle.

47. The Queen learnt to drive in 1945.

48. With the birth of Prince Andrew in 1960, The Queen became the first reigning Sovereign to have a child since Queen Victoria, who had her youngest child, Princess Beatrice, in 1857.

49. The Queen’s real birthday is on 21st April, but it is celebrated officially in June.

50. During the Silver Jubilee year, The Queen toured 36 counties in the UK and Northern Ireland, starting in Glasgow on the 17th May. During her Golden Jubilee year The Queen toured 35 counties beginning in Cornwall on 1st May.

51. The Queen’s first foreign tour of the Silver Jubilee year was a visit to Western Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea.  The first foreign tour of The Queen’s Golden Jubilee year was to Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia.

52. The Queen has 30 godchildren.

53. The Queen has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign, starting with Susan who was a present for her 18th birthday in 1944.  A good proportion of these have been direct descendants from Susan.  Her Majesty currently has three corgis – Monty, Willow and Holly.

54. The Queen also introduced a new breed of dog known as the “dorgi” when one of Her Majesty’s corgis was mated with a dachshund named Pipkin which belonged to Princess Margaret.  There have been 11 dorgis – Tinker, Pickles, Chipper, Piper, Harris, Brandy, Berry, Cider, Candy and Vulcan.

55. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have been married for 64 years.  They were married on 20th November, 1947 in Westminster Abbey.  The Queen’s wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell and was woven at Winterthur Silks Limited, Dunfermline, in the Canmore factory, using silk that had come from Chinese silkworms at Lullingstone Castle.

56. The Queen’s wedding ring was made from a nugget of Welsh gold which came from the Clogau St David’s mine near Dolgellau.  The official wedding cake was made by McVitie and Price Ltd, using ingredients given as a wedding gift by Australian Girl Guides.

57. The wedding of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh was the first and so far the only time in British history that the heir presumptive to the throne had been married.

58. The Queen’s racing colours are a purple body with gold braid, scarlet sleeves and black velvet cap with gold fringe. They were adopted from those used by King Edward VII; one of his most successful horses was called Diamond Jubilee.

59. Queen Victoria was the last and to date the only British Monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. The Queen, who was aged 85 on Accession Day in 2012, is the oldest monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. Queen Victoria was 77 when she celebrated hers in 1897.

60. There have been only three Diamond Jubilees of Heads of State celebrated throughout the world during The Queen’s reign. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand celebrated 60 years on the throne in 2006; the former Sultan of Johor (now a part of Malaysia) celebrated his in 1955; and the late Emperor Hirohito of Japan celebrated his in 1986.

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Queen’s jubilee:

By Ruth Holmes and Sarah Titterton (AFP) – 1 day ago

THAT’S THE END of the celebrations for today, but they will continue on Monday, notably with a concert at Buckingham Palace featuring the likes of Paul McCartney and Elton John, which AFP will also cover in a Live Report.

Just to recap on today’s events, up to one million people braved pouring rain to watch more than one thousand boats escort Queen Elizabeth down the Thames to celebrate her 60 years on the throne.

The celebrations came to a climax when the orchestra played Rule Britannia and God Save The Queen at Tower Bridge before the royal party. Fireworks were then let off from the top of the landmark bridge to rapturous applause from the crowd.

1713 GMT: Scotland Yard hailed the day a success but warned of travel delays as revellers head home.

In a video message, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Stephen Kavanagh said: “So far everything’s gone extremely well. The crowds have been very large and very good humoured, and have effectively policed themselves.”

But he urged people to take “a big dose of patience” as they travelled home, warning there was “a lot of waiting to be done” at some Tube stations.

1709 GMT: The royal family are now stepping off the boat back on to dry land after several hours watching the celebrations on board.

1703 GMT: The pageant is brought to its grand conclusion with a rousing rendition of “God Save The Queen”.

As the music finished, a flurry of fireworks are let off from the top of Tower Bridge, followed by a cacophony of ships? horns saluting the queen as the smoke settles.

She could be seen standing next to her smiling grandson Prince Harry, looking up to the sky with a smile before turning to give her signature wave to the boats on the river once more.

1702 GMT: The Queen has just turned to Prince Charles and observed: “It’s pouring.”

1659 GMT: The Queen herself is moving in time with the music, as are the other beaming members of the Royal family, as the orchestra plays the jaunty sea shanty The Sailor’s Hornpipe.

The rain is absolutely pouring down as they move in to Rule Britannia.

1651 GMT: The final boat in the flotilla has passed beneath the bridge and The London Philharmonic Orchestra, on board one of the barges, has broken into a spectacular rendition of Land of Hope and Glory as it passes before the Queen.

The orchestra’s singers look soaking wet and chilled to the bone — but as they bring the song to a close they are still jumping up and down and waving to thunderous applause from the thousands lining the Thames.

1646 GMT: The rain still cannot dampen the spirits of those watching, however. Durham University PhD student Steph Smits tells AFP’s Judith Evans that she “absolutely loved it”.

“When the queen came the rain came,” she said, “but everyone was still loving it.”

1642: The BBC have confirmed the flypast that was set to bring the pageant to its conclusion has been cancelled due to the weather.

1639 GMT: There are unconfirmed reports that some of the fly-pasts planned for the end of the pageant — namely the helicopters and the Swordfish bi-plane — are having to be cancelled due to the weather.

1625 GMT: Organisers said that around six million people had joined special jubilee lunches around the country, as well as in the Indian capital New Delhi, the Pakistani capital Islamabad and Durban in South Africa.

British Prime Minister David Cameron hosted a jubilee lunch party for 120 people at Downing Street ? but was forced to move it indoors at the last minute due to the wet weather.

1620 GMT: Onlookers’ enjoyment of the scene despite the weather has been characterised as “Dunkirk spirit” by an air force reservist acting as an usher on Tower Bridge.

Major Ray Rock, clad in a ceremonial uniform with his medals on display, told AFP’s Judith Evans: “There were a few glum faces earlier when the weather was bad… but our job is to lift the spirits. You’ve got to keep smiling. It was great, real Dunkirk spirit.”

“Dunkirk spirit” is the phrase used to describe the British public’s ability to pull together to overcome adversity. It was coined during the World War II Battle of Dunkirk, when hundreds of civilian Britons sailed their own boats — the “Dunkirk little ships” — across the English channel to rescue British Army soldiers stranded on the beaches of France in a mass evacuation Winston Churchill called a “miracle of deliverance”.

1605 GMT: The official River Pageant @riverpageant Twitter account has just announced: “Confirmed: Today’s @riverrpageant sets a new Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Parade of Boats — 419 so far, over 1000 expected!”

Queen Elizabeth is also only the second British monarch in history to have a diamond jubilee.

1602 GMT: Crowds are dispersing now as the rain is bucketing down but a group of retired ladies are among a hardcore remaining, trying to stay dry under plastic union jack bowler hats near Vauxhall Bridge, reports AFP’s Katy Lee.

“The weather hasn’t dampened our spirits, not a bit,” says Valerie Warboys. “But we are in quite bad need of a cup of tea.”

“The pageant is just wonderful and it’s something we’ll never see again. We saw the queen waving. It’s been a wonderful day,” says her friend Blanche Cole.

“It makes you proud to be British,” agrees Tessa Pierce. “We love the queen, she’s so hard-working.”

1555 GMT: As if it’s not wet enough, officers on board a fire ship are spraying their hoses high into the air, in huge cascades of water that make the boat look like a giant fountain from a distance. They’ve got their siren going off, but are smiling and waving at the crowds — no emergency here.

1547 GMT: The weather in London has got progressively worse as the day has gone on, with pouring rain drenching spectators gathered under gloomy skies. But many revellers along the Thames remain bouyed by the patriotic atmosphere and general euphoria.

“It was brilliant, the atmosphere, everyone seemed in a good mood, pensioner Barbara Barke, from Essex, tells AFP’s Judith Evans. “The queen’s boat was beautiful, really colourful, and Kate looked lovely in red.

Ted Petchey, another Essex pensioner says: “It’s a glimmer of hope for everyone when the recession is biting. The only problem was not being able to get close enough but 95-percent of people were really positive anyway. I think the queen must feel really satisfied.”

1537 GMT: Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, has voiced her family pride on Twitter, writing: “Sooo proud of my girls smiling broadly, celebrating Granny with the Nation and Eugie with her flag and both happy smiles”. She also noted that Prince Andrew was looking “very dashing in his naval uniform”.

“Princess Eugenie” was trending earlier worldwide. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were travelling on board the Havengore ship with the Duke of York.

1532 GMT: Back on the banks of the river where it’s still raining heavily, Diane Anderson, a retired florist from Basingstoke in southeast England, tells AFP’s Katy Lee: “All the boats are wonderful, but the queen’s boat was absolutely fabulous. I think she works hard for the country and brings in a lot of money for us. And I think Prince Philip has supported her a lot.”

Pat Neal, a housewife also from Basingstoke, agrees that Philip goes under-appreciated: “We mustn’t forget the Duke of Edinburgh — he’s been in the job for sixty years too.”

1528 GMT: The Spirit of Chartwell is now mooring up next to the Royal Navy vessel HMS President where the queen and her party will be able to watch the rest of the flotilla go past. The other boats — around 1,000 of them travelling at a speed of around four knots — will carry on to the West India Docks.

1522 GMT: Veterans and sea cadets on decommissioned warship HMS Belfast salute the queen by sounding the ship?s horn and giving her three cheers. The famous Tower Bridge opens to a fanfare from a band of the Royal Marines to allow the vessel carrying the queen to pass through.

1516 GMT: On the banks of the river, Stefano Dallarmi, Italian, and his Portuguese partner Susanna Rodriguez, tell AFP they came “out of curiosity”. Susanna says of the queen: “She’s very composed. She’s had some tough moments, but I think she’s done a good job, she does it with a lot of dignity.” Stefano is “very impressed” to see the flotilla, “and to see such a great celebration by the people, to see people being proud of their country.”

1512 GMT: Observers have honed in on the queen’s impressive ability to stay on her feet throughout the pageant despite rain, wind, and being on a boat. Singer Tracey Thorn tweets: “If I was a granny, and I was steaming along the Thames on a barge, I’d probably want to sit down. Tough old bird the queen.”

1500 GMT: As the royal boat passes further along the river towards the City of London financial district, it travels past a huge black and white photo displayed on Sea Containers House, taken for the queen’s silver jubilee of the royal family. A fanfare of trumpets plays as the boat approaches Tower Bridge.

1458 GMT: As the queen passes the National Theatre, the puppet horse from the play ?War Horse? — which played at the National Theatre and was later made into a film by Steven Spielberg — cantered along the roof in her honour. The queen, whose passion for horses is well known, beamed broadly in acknowledgement.

1456 GMT: A team of people with flags are standing on the balcony of the Royal Festival Hall concert hall sending semaphore messages to the queen as she passes by. Although it is not clear exactly what they are saying, the display is a nod to Britain?s maritime heritage which the river pageant is celebrating.

1452 GMT: Online, there’s more support for the queen on Twitter. Even singer Neil Diamond @NeilDiamond is a fan: “Happy celebrations to my friends in London, wish I could be there with you for the (wonderfully named) #DiamondJubilee!”.

@riverpageant is trending in Canada as the Commonwealth celebrates.

Inevitably, Twitter is also full of jokes about the flotilla invading France — led by the monarch’s parody account, Elizabeth Windsor @Queen_UK, where this warning has been tweeted: “Ok, cast off. We want to land in France by tea-time #thebritisharecoming.”

1447 GMT: “They’ve been saying we’re party poopers but we’re standing up for democracy,” Andrew Child, a director of campaign group Republic, bellows through a megaphone at a second group of protesters outside the security barriers.

“This will be a day you can look back on with a great deal of pride.

“The queen is a woman who pays hardly any tax — she could show she understands the plight of her subjects by paying more tax.”

To huge cheers, he adds: “You’ve all heard the phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Well, it is broke!”

1443 GMT: AFP?s Judith Evans is at the anti-monarchy protest at Tower Bridge. She reports that there are now around 500 people protesting against the jubilee festivities. They are chanting slogans like ?Monarchy out! Republic!? and waving placards saying: ?We want a vote, not a boat.?

1441 GMT: The queen’s boat, the Spirit of Chartwell, is heading towards Westminster now. It’s surrounded by police close protection boats as it has been throughout the river parade.

A 41-gun salute goes off as the queen passes London Bridge.

1424 GMT: At Battersea, we can see the first boats passing under Chelsea Bridge, reports AFP’s Katy Lee. A frisson of excitement’s passing through the crowd.

Huge cheer goes up as the first barge sails past with bells chiming. Everyone waving their flags and frantically snapping pictures with cameras and mobile phones. Periodic whoops from the crowd.

“It’s glorious. It’s a momentous occasion. It makes you proud to be a Brit,” says Neil Munn, who works in advertising and is there with his wife and four daughters. “We’re here to salute the queen after sixty years’ hard work.

His wife Amanda says: “It’s a fantastic day for the kids — and the weather hasn’t been that bad, we thought it was going to pour!”

1418 GMT: In addition to a cocophony of shouting, cheering, tooting of horns, and chiming of bells, there are 10 dedicated music boats among the flotilla, playing a mix of classical and contemporary pieces, including works specially commissioned for the event.

1413 GMT: The Middleton family are assembled on one of the boats — Kate’s sister Pippa, brother James and parents Michael and Carole have all been spotted.

1409 GMT: There is a carnival atmosphere along the banks of the River Thames as the hundreds of boats in the flotilla pass up the river.

Brass bands are playing, bells are ringing, crowds are cheering. The brightly coloured flotilla features everything from Maori rowers from New Zealand to a team of cancer survivors to rowers dressed up in historical costumes evoking the golden age of the Thames in the 17th and 18th century.

1406 GMT: Such is the queen’s star power that she has commanded the attention of some of Hollywood’s greatest. Actor Danny Devito @DannyDeVito has tweeted “Queen Elizabeth II looking good on the Royal Barge”.

1404 GMT: Britain’s monarchy may have suffered from waning popularity in recent years, but you would not know it today. Nicola Glanville, who works for a yachting company, is wearing a Union Jack as a cloak as she tries to spot friends on the flotilla. She tells AFP: “I think [the queen] does a jolly good job. She’s open to different opinions and she’s a great figurehead. I think she does a very good job at promoting England. She has a very stabilising effect on politics.”

1357 GMT: Along the river, in nearby flats, bunting and balloons are hanging from balconies.Crowds 15 to 20 deep stretch along large swathes of the riverbank.

Nick Smith, a 31-year-old teacher who was wearing a Prince Charles mask, tells AFP’s Katy Lee: “I am not much of a monarchist. I just wanted to join in. I’m not one for too much flag-waving but the sense of community down here has been great, even if the weather’s terrible.”

1352 GMT: The Thames flotilla is being led by “Gloriana”, known as the royal rowbarge, which is nearly 30 metres long. It is being rowed by a team of 18 oarsmen including multiple British Olympic rowing gold medallists Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent, as well as military veterans. Like the ?Spirit of Chartwell?, it is lavishly decorated with gold embossings, like something from a Canaletto painting.

1347 GMT: Annabel John @Anniejohn88 is just one of hundreds on Twitter commenting on the queen’s obvious joy at the occasion: “Loving how happy/excited the queen looks!”

Lee Oggy Mosby @oggmoz1980 agrees: “The queen is smiling 😀 awesome”.

1346 GMT: The queen is now aboard the Spirit of Chartwell, a 64-metre long boat which is usually a pleasure cruiser on the Thames but has been transformed into a magnificent vessel fit for royalty for today?s events.

It is decked in red and gold with sculptures of Old Father Thames — a mythical figure embodying the spirit of the river — and dolphins. It has mini-gardens planted on the top deck, from which the royals will greet revellers on the river bank while cruising down the river. It is designed to echo historic royal barges from the 17th and 18th century.

1343 GMT: Bells are ringing out from the floating belfry which will lead the flotilla on its 13-mile (22-kilometre) route. Its chimes will be echoed by churches across London and Britain.

1337 GMT: More details on those royal outfits… the queen is wearing a silver and white dress and matching coat, made from boucle fabric, embroidered with gold, silver and ivory spots, adorned with Swarovski crystals and threaded with silk ribbon. It was designed by Angela Kelly and made by Buckingham Palace’s own dressmakers.

1332 GMT: The queen is making the first part of her journey up the river on the royal barge, which will take her to the Spirit of Chartwell, the main boat in the pageant. The royal barge used to be attached to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which the queen was reportedly very attached to. Her broad smile as she travels up the river suggests she is glad to be back on board.

1328 GMT: On the web, Kate Middleton and Duchess of Cambridge are now trending on Twitter, while the queen herself, it seems, is not.

Kate arrived earlier wearing a striking red Alexander McQueen outfit. The river pageant official account @riverpageant says: “Kate looking fabulous and jubilee ready in red!”.

1322 GMT: There are thousands of people lining the banks of the River Thames, which winds its way through the centre of London. Some are wearing masks of the queen’s face, while some have even dressed up their dogs in patriotic garb, AFP?s Katy Lee reports.

Katy spoke to Robert Drummond, a reveller wearing a Union Jack bow tie and cummberbund. “It doesn’t matter if it’s sun or rain. As you can see, people are here for her majesty’s special day — which is also our special day.” Asked if the queen has done a good job over the last 60 years, he said: “She’s hardly wobbled at all. She might have wobbled a little bit in 1997 with Diana’s death, but that’s about it.?

1317 GMT: The queen and Prince Philip board the royal barge and set sail along the Thames. Jubilant crowds line the banks, cheering and waving Union Jack flags.

1315 GMT: The queen, dressed in a white, delicately detailed coat and matching hat is accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, in ceremonial dress. Greeted, by cheering crowds and a chorus of the National Anthem they review the guard of honour of 20 Chelsea pensioners before being welcomed by a fanfare of trumpeters from the Royal Marines.


1310 GMT: The royal party take their place on the royal barge, “The Spirit of Chartwell”, where the queen is due to join them. The boat will form the centrepiece of the flotilla, which will sail from Battersea to Tower Bridge.

1308 GMT: Prince William and Kate arrive nearby. Kate, wearing a bright red outfit and hat, stops to shake hands with delighted onlookers on the way to the river. William is also in military uniform, along with his brother Prince Harry.

1305 GMT: Prince Charles and Camilla arrive at Chelsea Bridge to get on the royal barge. Camilla, in a beige outfit, unfurls a see-through umbrella. Charles is in ceremonial military attire. The pair receive loud cheers as they arrive and greet some of London?s iconic Chelsea pensioners, who are military veterans.

1300 GMT: The Republican movement has been muted in the run-up to the jubilee celebrations ? and the turnout for an anti-monarchy protest at London?s Tower Bridge today is only around 30, AFP?s Julie Jammot reports.

She says the protesters are being kept behind barriers and are not being allowed close to City Hall, where they had hoped to go. They are waving placards saying ?Citizen Not Subject? and ?Power to the People? ahead of the flotilla?s arrival.

1255 GMT: While crowds throng the Thames, many Britons are also celebrating in their own villages, towns and cities. There are thought to be around 10,000 street parties taking place across the country this weekend, with local councils receiving more than 9,000 applications for road closures.

Earlier, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla joined a party in London?s Piccadilly — Charles sporting a double-breasted suit and Camilla a raincoat.

1250 GMT: Despite the persistent rain, loyal subjects are turning out in droves for the event, armed with umbrellas and sporting raincoats. The iconic Tower Bridge has become so packed that it has already been closed to new arrivals.

Pageant Master Adrian Evans, who is in charge of the extravaganza, brushed off the sodden conditions. He said: “There is some rain around, but it has not dampened any spirits. We in Britain are experts at not letting the weather spoil our fun.”

1245 GMT: With just 15 minutes to go until the start of the river pageant, crowds of onlookers are gathered in central London, along the Thames, where boats of all shapes and sizes are taking part in the pageant.

Some 20,000 people are on board the flotilla which includes rowing boats, working boats and pleasure vessels, alongside ships from the armed forces, police and rescue services.

WELCOME TO AFP’s LIVE REPORT on Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London, where more than 1,000 boats are parading on the River Thames for one of the biggest river pageants in the British capital’s history.

Around 1 million spectators have lined the banks of the river, undeterred by the wet British weather, for the highlight of four days of events to mark the queen’s 60 years on the throne.

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