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Comment 02 JUNE 2012

The Queen arrives at Epsom Derby to kick start Diamond Jubilee festivities

02 JUNE 2012

As Katherine Jenkins sung the final notes of the National Anthem at the Epsom Derby, 130,000 well-wishers roared their approval. 

This was the reception given to the Queen at the start of the Diamond Jubilee festivities, and the monarch seemed genuinely thrilled with her warm welcome.   

 

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Earlier, to the fluttering of countless flags, she had arrived in the State Bentley given to her for the Golden Jubilee ten years ago.

In a bid to ward off the chill, a blanket was draped over her elegant royal blue ensemble by Stewart Parvin.

There will, no doubt, be even more spectacular events this weekend, but this is a fitting start to the celebrations.

Ever since the Forties, when she would attend with Prince Philip and her sister Margaret, the royal matriarch has always loved the Derby.

 

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And she was joined once again by the Duke of Edinburgh, who was smartly turned out in a morning suit. 

Her Majesty comes not just as a spectator, but as an expert in breeding and training, who knows each of her own horses by sight. It is speculated that she also likes to have a flutter herself.

And every year, she organises a sweepstake amongst members of her family.
 
Those likely to have had their names included in the hat are Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, who attended with their father, the Duke of York.

 

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Eugenie paid her own fun tribute to the unique occasion – her grandmother is the only sovereign in British history apart from Queen Victoria to reach 60 years on the throne – with Union Jack-themed nails.

Also present are the Earl and Countess of Wessex, as is Princess Michael of Kent.

In anticipation of the royals' arrival at 1 pm, the Red Devils parachuted from the sky, draped in Union flags.

Elsewhere the entire nation is getting into the spirit of the celebrations, with some 9,500 street parties organised.

 

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The jewel in the crown of the festivities is Sunday's Thames River Pageant, involving a 1,000-strong flotilla – a tradition that goes back to the coronation of Anne Boleyn as Henry VIII's queen.

On Monday, Buckingham Palace will rock to the sounds of a stellar line up of British and international musicians.

 

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Eighties ska band Madness will serenade the Diamond sovereign from the roof of the Palace and Stevie Wonder, Kylie, JLS, Sir Tom Jones and Dame Shirley Bassey will also perform.

The bank holiday concludes with a service of thanksgiving in St Paul's Cathedral, attended by 2,000 people, a flypast and a procession along the Mall.

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