Queen, 85, vows to continue her life of service06 FEBRUARY 2012
February 6, is usually a time of quiet reflection when she honours George VI, the father she loved with all her heart and who died on that day thrusting her onto the world stage.
But mindful that many of her subjects would be keen to see her at what was the start to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Queen stepped out for two engagements on Monday.
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One of them was to a nursery near the Sandringham estate, where children were to perform a play celebrating her time on the throne.
The other was to Kings Lynn in Norfolk where, despite freezing conditions, crowds had gathered with placards and flowers in her honour.
Greeting admirers, her face positvely wreathed in smiles, the royal matriarch was clearly touched by their effort.
In a message of thanks to the public for the outpouring of "support and encouragement" on the 60th anniversary of her reign, the monarch dedicated herself anew to the task she assumed as a shy but dutiful young woman of 25.
The statement, released by Buckingham Palace, scotched any talk of her abdicating in favour of Prince Charles.
She said: "In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness."
A magnificent new portrait has been issued of the sovereign to celebrate the milestone.
The picture taken in the Centre Room at Buckingham Palace shows the sovereign in full royal regalia.
She wears a white satin and lace gown by Angela Kelly, her personal dresser and Queen Victoria's Collet, a necklace worn by Victoria in 1897 for her own Diamond Jubilee photo.
And the crowning glory is the State Diadem, which usually adorns her head at the official Opening of Parliament and was used for her Coronation in 1953.
In another photograph, the much-loved monarch is accompanied by Prince Philip wearing the Royal Navy ceremonial dress of the Admiral of the Fleet.
To mark her life of devotion to the country HELLO! has released a special souvenir edition, packed with fabulous pictures and tributes.
Pick up your copy with the magazine this week
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee message
Today, as I mark 60 years as your Queen, I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Philip over these years and to tell you how deeply moved we have been to receive so many kind messages about the Diamond Jubilee.
In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign and which my family and I look forward to seeing in many forms as we travel throughout the United Kingdom and the wider Commonwealth.
I hope also that this Jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future with clear head and warm heart as we join together in our celebrations.
I send my sincere good wishes to you all.