Diamond Jubilee: Final preparations under way

Members of the armed forces and the Household Division were among those rehearsing the carriage procession

Union jacks and bunting are being put out across the UK, as final preparations are made for the weekend's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Earlier, a rehearsal of Tuesday's carriage procession between Westminster Hall and Buckingham Palace took place.

And crews of the 1,000-strong flotilla that will escort the royal barge along the Thames on Sunday were briefed.

Events are planned across the UK over the next four days to mark 60 years since the Queen came to the throne.

Last-minute preparations are under way for the many street parties, outdoor concerts and fairs being staged for the royal celebration:

In the early hours of Friday, members of the armed forces and the Household Division were among the 2,000 servicemen and women rehearsing the carriage procession - one of the final events of the Jubilee celebrations.

Thames pageant preparations

Under the gaze of some of London's biggest skyscrapers, an eclectic collection of boats, ships and kayaks are gathering for what one captain has described as a "uniquely British event".

The noise of chugging engines at West India Dock and the occasional seagull is broken by the excited conversations of the boat crews anticipating Sunday's events.

Those on board are busily attaching a collection of multi-coloured flags, including a special Jubilee ensign, and even touching up the paint work on their largely immaculately turned out boats.

Among them will be the Dunkirk Little Ships - famed for rescuing thousands of troops in World War II. They will hope to bring some of their celebrated spirit to the Thames on Sunday.

Boats set to make waves for Queen

Roads in central London were closed off for the rehearsal of Tuesday's carriage procession, which ended at 06:00 BST.

Members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Division rode from the Palace of Westminster along Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, before travelling along the Mall to Buckingham Palace.

The procession included the 1902 state landau carriage - used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their wedding day - which will be used to take the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh from a thanksgiving service at St Paul's Cathedral on Tuesday.

The BBC's Daniela Relph said the full ceremonial rehearsal had been a display of the pomp and pageantry expected during the Jubilee celebrations.

Soldiers rehearsed their three cheers for the Queen and the national anthem was played, she added.

Major Andrew Chatburn, the ceremonial officer for the Household Division, said the rehearsal had been "spectacular".

Diamond Jubilee: Key events

The main weekend events to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee include:

Saturday

  • The Queen attends the Epsom Derby
  • Katherine Jenkins sings the National Anthem and a Red Arrows display takes place

Sunday

Monday

  • The BBC's Jubilee concert takes place, featuring performances by Sir Paul McCartney and Madness
  • At 22:00 BST, more than 4,000 beacons will be lit around the world to mark 60 years of the Queen's reign. The Queen lights the National Beacon at 22:30 BST

Tuesday

  • A national service of thanksgiving takes place at St Paul's Cathedral at 10:30 BST, attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh
  • A lunch at Westminster Hall and a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace is planned, with a balcony appearance by the royals, and fly-past, at 15:30 BST

The state ceremonial training officer for the Royal Navy, Warrant Officer Paul Barker, said it had gone "very well".

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will be joined by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry for Tuesday's event.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who will join the royals for the celebratory events during the weekend, paid tribute to the Queen's "extraordinary energy" and "devotion to her people", in an interview with Sky News.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the weekend's festivities would celebrate "everything that is best about our country" and praised the Queen's "selfless dedication to duty".

Preparations have also been continuing for the BBC's Jubilee concert, which will be held in front of Buckingham Palace in the area surrounding the Queen Victoria Memorial on Monday.

Artists including Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Elton John, Jessie J, JLS and Ed Sheeran are due to perform.

The concert will be broadcast live on BBC One, BBC One HD and on BBC Radio 2 in the UK and to millions around the world.

Take That singer Gary Barlow said the concert - which he helped to arrange - would be an "incredible" experience.

Other preparations on Friday have included the mustering at West India Quay, near Canary Wharf, of boats taking part in the Thames Jubilee Pageant.

More than 1,000 vessels of all shapes and sizes will form a flotilla and sail along the Thames from upriver of Battersea Bridge to down river of Tower Bridge on Sunday. More than a million people are expected to line the River Thames for the event.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury has paid tribute to the Queen, who he describes as being "unfailingly supportive and kind".

Rowan Williams, who will step down as Archbishop in December after 10 years, said in a video that during private meetings, he discovered that Her Majesty is "extremely funny and prepared to be teased", and helped him through difficult periods of his own life.

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