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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