Diamond Jubilee: Pomp and celebrations defy the rain

Fireworks over Tower Bridge The fireworks over Tower Bridge signalled the closing stages of the royal pageant on the Thames

Fireworks scratched colours into the slate grey sky after being unleashed from the top of Tower Bridge as the historic royal flotilla finished gliding along the Thames.

This signalled the end of the Diamond Jubilee pageant in London, but other events did not survive in the wet weather - namely the cannons primed to explode confetti and a helicopter flypast, which was cancelled because of visibility.

The fine, yet unrelenting, rain did not show mercy either to the soaked singers who gamely sang the national anthem in the closing stages.

These events were the dying embers of a day that had seen fun, food, celebrations, dressing up and several renditions of the national anthem, as well as a protest against the monarchy - all stubbornly carried out despite the rain.

At the start of the day, some revellers heading to the capital had their plans disrupted by overcrowding on the train network, with reports of passengers left behind on platforms because carriages were full.

Others stayed at home to celebrate, with almost 9,500 roads shut across England and Wales for parties.

Those in the capital threw themselves into the celebrations, none more so than those who attended the Big Jubilee Lunch in Piccadilly, made up of a long line of tables in this usually traffic-choked street.

Diamond Jubilee: Key events

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


  • 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


  • 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

Wandering down Piccadilly, resplendent in their tiaras and red, white and blue outfits, were three friends - Jodie Merrylees, 27, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Charlotte Symonds, 30, from Brighouse, West Yorkshire, and Jodie Cosgrove, 27, from Leeds.

Ms Symonds said: "I really like the Royal Family and the tradition it represents. I was at the royal wedding too and that was brilliant. We wanted to dress up for the Jubilee and get involved with the atmosphere to feel part of the celebrations."

It became an even more grand event when the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall arrived, walking down the line of tables and even stopping to sit down on a potentially soggy seat to chat to some of those munching their food.

Street parties were definitely popular on the day, particularly in Bristol, which had more applications for road closures than in other city outside London.

Revellers there gathered in a red, white and blue-bedecked Millennium Square, which boasted its own "make your own corgi" attraction.

Inspired by the Thames pageant, Andrew Southerden, a landlord in Kibworth, Leicestershire, transformed his pub into HMS Coach & Horses, affixing portholes, liferafts, funnels and a bow to the building.

Party-goers in Richmond Park, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, were able to snap up food at 1950s prices. Hot dogs were 7p, bacon sandwiches 9p and a cup of tea just 2p.

In Belfast, Samuel and Margaret Sloan, 80, were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary as well as the Jubilee at a tea party thrown by the city's Lord Mayor. "It is a great honour," said Mr Sloan, a retired motor mechanic. "She is a very gracious Queen and she does care for the people."

More than 300 official street parties took place across Wales. Cardiff's St Mary's Street hosted a Big Lunch celebration while hundreds attended a similar event in Swansea.

A beach party was rained off in Rhosneigr, close to the Anglesey home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but the party went ahead regardless - a picnic was held in the village hall instead, attended by hundreds of people.

Ten street parties took place in Edinburgh, with the Scottish capital understood to have made a third of all of Scotland's street party applications.

From left: Jodie Merrylees, Charlotte Symonds and Jodie Cosgrove Jodie Merrylees, Charlotte Symonds and Jodie Cosgrove all dressed up for the Diamond Jubilee and attended the street party in Piccadilly

But not everyone taking part supported the royal family's constitutional role.

Abigail Burnyeat, who attended a street party in Edinburgh's Stockbridge, told the BBC she enjoyed herself but did not see the event as an endorsement of the monarchy.

"It's a celebration of community," she said, adding: "I wouldn't examine it too closely."

As the Diamond Jubilee pageant began, its 1,000 vessels were greeted along the route by 1.2 million spectators, according to the organisers.

Crowds lined the banks of the Thames, some climbing up onto window ledges of nearby buildings to try to get a better view, all thankful that by now the skies were holding onto their raindrops.

Marilyn Griffiths Marilyn Griffiths said she found the royal pageant an emotional experience

On Lambeth Bridge, a carefully controlled number of the public were allowed on, each choosing a side to stand on, to either watch the pageant arrive or see it pass off into the distance.

As it approached, the smaller boats before the bigger ones, great cheers rose up, as did the crackling of plastic flags. That sound reached a crescendo when the royal barge approached, prompting many hands to raise mobile phones and cameras, like electronic meerkats desperate for a view.

Among those on the bridge was Marilyn Griffiths, 59, from Ledbury, Herefordshire, decked out in a union jack hat, earrings and carrying a flag.

She described the pageant as "spectacular", adding: "I just love the Royal Family and admire them all for what they do. They all work so hard. I wanted to come here to show my support."

By the end of the pageant the rain had become almost torrential, with everyone wet through.

And yet the good humour of the crowd survived, with one man even enjoying a rather soggy ice cream.

The last of the steam boats sailed by sounding their horns together and drawing cheers from the flag-wavers along Tower Bridge.

"I saw the Queen," shouted one small child to his mother. It was certainly an achievement for all.

See all the latest Diamond Jubilee news and features at bbc.co.uk/diamondjubilee


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  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Brilliant. Thrilled by it. Watched it all, start to finish.
    Mrs. Queen, don't listen to the miseries. They're few in number, though loud of voice - the rest of us love you. And I for one don't envy you in Buck Palace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    It's obviously a highlight of some people's lives to see how the country was run in medieval times. However, we live in the 21st century now and although I have no personal grudge against or interest in the monarchy I do find all this blind obedience to a throwback from the past somewhat embarrassing.I'm sure they do a lot for charity they can afford to they have time and money something we don't

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.


    So Switzerland is broke is it ?

    And another thing...... Hang on new series of Family Guy

    Now there's a queen worth watching.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    I have been dancing a Shamanic rain dance with my friends these past 24hrs, such was my determination that this farce would be a washout. No matter how much spin or photo shopping they do, it was a gray, wet, cold and miserable event.
    Poetic Justice - Sycophants drip.... drip.... drip.... away!

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Luxury for a few, austerity for the rest of us. Business as usual.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Off with their heads.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    How much tax payers money went into this event. I find this objectionable. The royals live in luxury and we pay for it and quite frankly I see this as a watse of part of my taxes

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    And you really think that the monarch wouldn't step in if an authoritarian government ordered mass arrests or the shooting of protestors?

    Why on Earth would the Tory party want to do that? Oh, I see now, we're not really all in this together are we? Protestors in other countries are encouraged to protest by the Tories, we are not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Seems a shame there is no mention of the thousands that were stopped by lines of police and security guards from getting near the river. Children were crying as they didn't get to see anything of the Flotilla and there was no information or help to direct you to where you could see something. Trudging in the rain for over two hours looking for a space - horrendous day badly let down

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    On a chat programme this morning someone said other countries look at us and marvel at our monarchy and how we celebrate occassions like this. Sorry but other countries look at us as though we still live in victorian times and total idiots. Its all well and good to have history to look back on but so does every other country. We just keep re-living ours from a by-gone age. We need to move on!

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    My top memory will be of the (LPO?) choir with rain bedraggled hair and running makeup singing their hearts out. Well done girls and chaps!

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.


    "And you really think that the monarch wouldn't step in if an authoritarian government ordered mass arrests or the shooting of protestors?"

    One of the best arguments I've seen in a long time for retaining our current Monarchy.

    What we need as a Nation is a proper balance of power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    43 tobamory

    What power does the Queen deny others, apart from the power of people to elect their head of state?

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    THe river was absolutley fantstic,don't know who's idea it was but what a blinder. It would have been a real hoot if Lyddon and whatever is left of the rest to bring up the rear as in 77. The state and art history imagiary was superbly done. I absolutley agree with C40. Regarding the monarchy it is not the power they wield that is important but the power they deny others. God save the queen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Roundheads and Cavaliers again. Seems to me the Cavaliers outnumbered the roundheads by about 10,000 to 1 this time!

    When someone comes up with a credible name for a president I may be prepared to listen. Until then I'll stick with the professionals who are trained to do the job from birth. We don't need amateurs to lead our nation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    36. rememberdurruti
    No, it makes it easier. The Queen has no say in how the country is run. That is the job of parliament. It is parliament who decide how the police and armed forces are deployed not the Monarchy.


    And you really think that the monarch wouldn't step in if an authoritarian government ordered mass arrests or the shooting of protestors?

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.


    If you had to choose, for a Head of State, between the Queen, Dave, Tone, Gong or Maggie, there is and always will be one winner. It is the former.

    No, it would be none of the above

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Shame on you, BBC, for being so supportive of the monarchy on what is supposed to be a news site.

    And as for British readers of the BBC, next time you marvel over the stupidity of U.S. voters, remember that your country has its baffling blind spot as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Absolutely brilliant day.1.2million people watched in london alone against a 100 anti-royals.Says it all.As well as the 60yrs being celebrated we even get a Guiness world record for the largest ever floatilla, over a 1000 boats.A brilliant day for a brilliant Monarch.Long may she reign.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    35. shovehalfpenny
    @32 - Western Europe is full of examples of elected republican presidents being used as 'instruments of repression', isn't it?


    Fine, but when it happens here, just remember who warned you!


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