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 96.

    Well, that's it for tonight. I'll leave the selfish pathetic flag waving to the brainwashed. I have work to do. (unlike those who don't need to) and, not forgetting those who want to work but can't, there aren't the number of jobs around these days despite the contrary propaganda from the Tory minority government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.


    Hear, hear!

    It seems OK to celebrate a bunch of highly-paid footballers, parading on top of a bus in Manchester and Chelsea, because they happened to win a couple of competitions in this one particular year. And you pay a lot more for their upkeep through ticket prices.

    Why is it so bad for HM Queen to be celebrated for her 60 years of service to the Nation?

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Once again the Editor tries his best to find the few possitive remarks made about this farce, and picks them, projecting them as a majorative opinion. The sheer arrogance of the BBC - their pr-royal bias is unapologetic. This is why I stopped paying my TV license some time ago! - I am now liberated and free :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    78. M52
    'For those wishing to attend I cannot believe how badly organised access was. My younger son lives in Shad Thames. When he attempted to walk down to the river he was told "No entry unless you have a ticket!" What on Earth were they thinking?!'
    I live on the other side of the river at Shadwell...I had the same problem at Tower of London area.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    The pageant was great, the crowds really enjoyed it, people interviewed were very enthusiastic & happy. Should have been a lot more transport put on tho, the lack of it was due I suspect to negative reporting by media who under estimated the loyalty to our Monarch,did last time too. All the boats looked awesomebut very feastive. Well done. It rained 60yrs ago, it didn't dampen spirits then either

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Congratulations to the event organisers who fought off poor weather very successfuly. Congratulations to HER MAJESTY.

    BBC you should be ashamed of your broadcast and I look forward to a public apology to Her Majesty for failing to fulfill your role of sharing the experience with the Queen's subjects!

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    I see the usual bossy, finger wagging brigade is out. The type of people who don't believe in having fun and therefore no one else should whatever the occasion. So one question to these 'republicans'.

    Who would you replace the queen with as head of state? President Blair, President Thatcher or maybe even President Galloway? Or maybe your own smug, self satisfied self? Pray tell......

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.


    did you have a party at Christmas? on your birthday? to see in the New Year? to celebrate Manchester City winning the Premiership? against a background of poverty?
    Spare us the humbug, the crocodile tears, the histrionics.

    No, I worked all these nights (except the soccer one) in the A+E department clearing up the mess caused by the current governments policies. You need to get out more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Cannot believe the bitterness and anger in a lot of the comments! What miserable lives a lot of people must have.

    Today made a lot of people happy and gave a lot of people employment - what's wrong with that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    And why shouldn't there be nasty bitter comments? Not everyone lives in Shangri- la. You have to remember or, at least open your eyes to the fact that we live in a divided and desperate land. As displayed today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.


    - the Only work the Queen has done is to maintain her vested interests and those of the Torie Party to ensure that the 1% wealthy elite maintain and increase their income at the expense of the rest of us, hence, we pay for the austerity whilst they bask in ermine, drinking Krug Chamapge & eating Beluga Caviar - an Evil regime by any other name, but passively enacted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Sorry, this is Stalinist BBC. I live in Edinburgh, probably the most English part of Scotland. Nothing happened here. No harm to them but we did not celebrate yet the smiley BBC newsreaders made it look like we did. Totally unquestioning of why we have a hereditary head of state in an alleged democracy. A disgrace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Who chose Alan Partridge to do the commentary? It was banal to say the least

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Re. post 68, rememberdurruti:
    did you have a party at Christmas? on your birthday? to see in the New Year? to celebrate Manchester City winning the Premiership? against a background of poverty?
    Spare us the humbug, the crocodile tears, the histrionics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    As far as I recollect,the whole lot shipped out of Portugal when Napoleon was knocking on the door.

    I might be wrong but I think the last was a Pedro.I do seem to remember they called themselves Emperors rather than mere kings. Must have had nicer hats.

    USA's last was German George, Indias was someone who I think took the job from a Nazi sympathiser. Again I might be wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    I was conned into watching it by my kids. They told me the royals had their own barge in the procession. Imagine my disappointment when I failed to see the royals heaving away on the oars like a 21st century
    It's a knockout episode. Wasted opportunity for a sponsored charity event, shame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Some nasty, bitter comments here, obviously from people who have no idea what work the Queen has done over the years, and still does, for the benefit of this country. Much of the rest of the world recognises this. So catch up, do your homework and cut out the envious sneering. Her Majesty is an example of honesty and dedication which puts our bickering and self-serving politicians to shame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    At least we got to see what the Sun and OK demographic look like today. There was more peroxide and primark on parade than on your average bling Hen Night. I think Diana must have asked God to turn on the water works for a bit of spite, don't you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    For those wishing to attend I cannot believe how badly organised access was. My younger son lives in Shad Thames. When he attempted to walk down to the river he was told "No entry unless you have a ticket!" What on Earth were they thinking?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Question for post 61 Surly not:
    when were Brazil, India and the USA monarchies?
    Colonies, perhaps. But the name of the last King of Brazil escapes me.


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