News / Europe

    Britain's Queen Joins Giant Flotilla for Jubilee Celebration

    Al Pessin

    LONDON - This weekend marks the culmination of year-long celebrations in Britain marking the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

     

    A specially outfitted ship carried the 86-year-old queen and her family along the River Thames at the head of a 1,000-boat parade. Rain and cold kept many people away, but tens of thousands came out anyway to cheer, underlining the queen's popularity. 

     

    “The monarchy has gone through a lot of ups and downs in its time, in her time on the throne, high peaks and then very low troughs. She has fulfilled her oath to her people," said one man in London. 

     

    Historian Miles Taylor of the University of London says the monarchy continues to be relevant.  “I think there is still a place for monarchy.  It is the most visible and familiar symbol of our national identity. Yes, there’s the glamor, there’s the glitz, there’s the tradition, but the monarchy by the early 20th century was playing a hugely important role in the voluntary sector, in making all charities, philanthropy, all the kind of civic-mindedness work in the country," he said. 


    • Britain's Prince Charles, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William stand on the balcony at Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London, June 5, 2012.
    • Revelers on the Mall in London watch Queen Elizabeth II appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
    • The British Royal Air Force Red Arrows fly in formation over Buckingham Palace.
    • Britain's Prince Willam, his wife Kate, and Prince Harry stand on the balcony at Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
    • Guardsmen march onto the Mall in London to take up their positions ahead of the formal carriage procession.
    • The Queen departs St Paul's Cathedral with the Dean of St Paul's David Ison, left, following a service of thanksgiving on the last day of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
    • A boy blows a horn as crowds gathered along The Mall in St James Park, London June 5, 2012.
    • The Queen departs St Paul's Cathedral with the Dean of St Paul's David Ison, left, following a service of thanksgiving on the last day of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
    • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince Harry, right, attend the Diamond Jubilee concert, June 4, 2012.
    • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, center, and Prince Philip, right, arrive at Chelsea Pier in London, before boarding the royal barge to participate in the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant, June 3, 2012.
    • Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip leave from Chelsea Harbour in London on a launch on the first part of their journey in the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant, June 3, 2012.
    • Britain's Royal Family from left, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Philip Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth, Prince William and Prince Harry on the royal barge.
    • Britain's Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, right, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, center, and Queen Elizabeth, look at the proceedings on the royal barge, the principal boat of a flotilla of 1,000 vessels.
    • The Gloriana is seen leading the flotilla during the Thames Diamond Jubilee River Pageant in London, June 3, 2012.
    • Children of British expatriates enjoy an elephant ride as others arrive for an event to commemorate the Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebration at the British High Commission, in New Delhi, India, June 3, 2012.


    The queen also maintains a political role, speaking for the government and advising prime ministers.  

     

    She meets with foreign leaders from all corners of the world.

     

    And she is the leader of the the Commonwealth, the nations once part of the British Empire.

     

    During Queen Elizabeth’s 60-year reign, Britain has endured a variety of troubles, including terrorist attacks. When Princess Diana died in 1997, the queen had some of her toughest days, enduring criticism for not sharing the depth of the nation’s grief.

     

    But the queen emerged with a status unparalleled in Britain and many other countries.  

     

    And in recent years, she has allowed the spotlight to focus on the most popular members of her family.

     

    An 80-year-old British army veteran, who gave his name only as Tom, is among relatively few people here who can remember a time when Elizabeth was not their queen. “I was at Windsor when King George VI died.  I attended his funeral down there, and then I had to go around the town, march around the town, with the proclamation of the queen, Princess Elizabeth then, becoming our queen.  And that sticks in my heart now.  I think she’s held this country together," he said. 

     

    So Britons pause for four days to celebrate their queen and their heritage.  They put aside concerns about the economic downturn and foreign wars and crises, at least for a while.

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    Comment Sorting
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    by: Larrymoe1960@yahoo.com from: deep south
    June 03, 2012 2:34 PM
    Do you really need a queen? All this pomp for a woman? Give me a break!

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