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 116.

    Congratulations to Her Majesty on achieving 60 years on the throne. Also, I am sorry the weather was so bad, but delighted that everyone seemed to have a great time. But! I was delighted to be able to avoid the whole thing. Not that I have anything against the Queen. It's just a can't stand the hype. so with the twin bores of Euro football and Olympic games to come, I am glad I have my allotment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Amazing day, rubbish commentary from the BBC. There's a time & place for a 'One Show'-style broadcast, and this wasn't it. . Come on BBC, you used to do this stuff so well - bring back commentators who have some knowledge of their subject. Until then, well done Sky for a much more informed afternoon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    An historic day when Britain could rally round to pay tribute to a great monarch for 60 years service. The real significance is the opportunity for the younger generations to experience this incredible show of pageantry - God save the queen.
    Ps miserable republicans no-one really wants to hear you today!

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    What a flop. A million plus watching on the Thames?? Be real. Most people were out in their local shopping centre. The monarchists are living in cloud cuckoo land as are the republicans. The majority has their bank holiday ruined because it was moved a week to pay homage to the Saxe-Coburg family that did'nt even the decencyto thank taxpayers for subsidising them for sixty years of decadence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Sadly, unlike the French, many British have no desire to be Free.They want the likes of Rupert Murdoch to determine their entertainment or possibly even worse - the BBC. and have all their thinking done for them. What other country produces 'public information films' and Nannies its people? What we saw today is as plastic as the Union flags being waved and as bland as the fairy cakes consumed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Horrible weather for a big occasion, that British stiff upper lip was required today

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    On the whole I enjoyed watching the pageant on TV, but I was dosappointed with some of the commentary. The stars of the show were obviously the boats, but, we didn't get to see enough of them. And where were all the music boats? We had to wait till the last 10 mins.

    However, what heroes the choir on the LPO boat were! Cold, wet, & singing their hearts out! True British spirit. Well done, guys!

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    What happens when you get 900,000 slaves singing 'Long to rain over us'?

    - Exactly!

    Poetic Justice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    What a fantastic day. Well done to all those who celebrated 60 years of service. 6 Million celebrating with street parties alone say's a great deal about our Monarchy. God save the Queen.

    Great to see the youngsters have such a great time too. A day to remember.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    What a load of codswallop and waste of money.

    One can only hope that this is the last Jubilee celebration for a monarch and, even better, that Elizabeth is the last British monarch.

    For Britain to have a hereditary Head of State living in luxury at our expense in the 21st century is beyond absurd.

    It's time for a republic; way past the time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    how many of you watched the TV program about Michael Fagin who broke into the queens bedroom in buckingham palace that is the only time she has ever had to talk to anybody not sycophantically bending over in a freshly painted hospital or saying thank you for a piece of shiny metal on a pretty ribbon in the palace she has no idea what its like for us without the hundreds of millions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Am I the only one who was shocked at how dull and lacking in pageantry the whole affair was? Wasn't it meant to be a celebration? Where was the fire-breathing boat or carnival boats, all I saw was 1000 boats with a sprinkling of bunting... It was obvious that the BBC presenters were struggling to maintain enthusiasm in their search for entertainment. A very dull show.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    I tried walking East along the South side of the Thames. Every single access point to the river was blocked off with security and police, most places demanding tickets or for 'residents only'. It just wasn't possible to get within a block to see the actual river. Several miles of riverbank should have provided space enough for everybody but so much of it was totally inaccessible. Disappointing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    The whole thing smacks of Eurovision or It's a knockout mentality. I've nothing against the royals as people but today was pretty farcical and they must have felt that too. It's the 21st century for heaven's sake. If getting cold and wet and waving flags or having street parties in the rain is the British way it's about time we grew up and found a better expression for our national character!

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Well they've all got home now, taken off their ermine and Medals (can someone tell me one thing any of those men did to deserve a medal?)
    I was waiting all day for the explosions and all we got was a few fireworks on Tower Bridge. What a disappointment.
    Apprentice was good, just a shame it wasn't Lizzie who got 'fired'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    All the pomp and ceremony unsettles me a bit. I have nothing against the monarchy, but I get quite scared when I see the masses celebrate something that has no effect on their lives. Open minded, critical thinking seems to be at a premium.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    A fabulous event marred by presenters being jolly as if we are 3 years old. The boats were great, we wanted to SEE THE BOATS!!! not watch Annika Rice, etc. In the past we had good, informed commentry whilst watching all the action but this time we hardly saw the Dunkirk Little ships and where were the historic boats? The BBC has let itself down -- dumbed down.
    Her Majesty however was superb!

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    This was no Party!

    Just the head of the Tory Party electioneering and ensuring victory so that they can take even more £ from you in the coming years.
    - Hey don't worry, what do you need £ and services for? - Just have them in a surrogate way through your Masters. Spam Fritters for you, Just like in the old days, old chum. Now sing along... ' Yes we have no bannannas...we have no ......'

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    94. If no TV you cant comment, but in fact the BBC are anti Royal & support Labour. We in fact need an unbiased TV channel. If you had seen the news it reported a max of only about 100 protesters,they had very little support, they should move from this country if want president. The well over a million spectators despite getting wet were clearly having a great time,you always get some whingers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    I remember standing in the rain as the Funeral of King George passed. It was raining when I watched the Coronation procession. Today was only drizzle on a great day.


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