Accessibility links

Breaking News

Hundreds of Thousands Celebrate Queen Elizabeth's 50 Year Reign - 2002-06-04

Britain is wrapping up four days of festivities to mark Queen Elizabeth's 50 years on the throne with a day of prayer and pageantry.

Queen Elizabeth II traveled to London's historic Saint Paul's Cathedral aboard an 18th century Gold State Coach in a procession that began at Buckingham Palace.

Hundreds of thousands of her subjects lined the route, many waving Union Jack flags as they cheered and waved to their monarch.

The cathedral was packed with the high and mighty of British society, including many members of the royal family, Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cabinet.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, led the congregation in thanking Queen Elizabeth for her long service to the British people. "Here now in this great cathedral, we give thanks, your majesty, for your devotion and dedication over 50 extraordinary years," he said. " And we offer in return our respect, our admiration, and yes, our love."

After the service, the queen attended a luncheon, at which Prime Minister Blair praised her patriotism and commitment to her subjects. "They know you care for the people, are dedicated to their welfare and will never let them down," he said. "Deference may be inherited, but affection is earned. And the affection this country feels for you is real."

The solemn tributes to the monarch came after a raucous night in London, where the queen hosted a pop music concert at Buckingham Palace, capped by a spectacular fireworks display. Police estimate one million people jammed the streets and parks around the palace for the event.

The festivities were winding up Tuesday with parades, an aerial show and an appearance by the queen and her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.