Northern Ireland

Diamond Jubilee: Queen 'consistently gracious'

Secretary of State Owen Paterson and his wife Rose with the Very Reverend John Mann
Secretary of State Owen Paterson and his wife Rose with the Very Reverend John Mann

The Dean of Belfast has paid tribute to the Queen during a service at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast.

As events get under way in Northern Ireland on Sunday to mark the Diamond Jubilee, the Very Reverend John Mann said Her Majesty had been a "consistently gracious" part of life over 60 years.

Belfast's new Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson is due to attend a number of street parties later, culminating in afternoon tea at Belfast City Hall.

The guests will include couples celebrating their 60th wedding anniversaries this year.

At a service of thanksgiving at St Anne's Cathedral, Rev Mann said the Jubilee honoured the Queen's "60 years of devotion to others".

He said: "The Queen reminds us of who we are, of what our values should be, where lies the path of duty... and how she, in the hard daily grind, even in the mid-eighties of life, can demonstrate so tellingly, that duty is above the seeking of personal pleasure".

He also spoke of the Queen's visit to the Republic of Ireland last year.

"The Queen's visit to Dublin sought to build bridges and heal wounds which were both old and deep; this historic visit was one in which most people heartily rejoice, enabling us to pass and re-pass over the ground, apparently without seeing it," he said.

"This is part of the magical effect of Her Majesty's personality; maintaining a peculiarly caring presence with the untouchable distance of royalty - a gift possessed of few, and still less for such a long time. "

On Saturday, the royal family's official residence in County Down was the venue for one of the main Diamond Jubilee events in Northern Ireland.

Secretary of State Owen Paterson greeted hundreds of guests, including First Minister Peter Robinson at Hillsborough Castle.

A 21-gun royal salute marked the anniversary of the coronation in 1953.

A fly-past took place at Hillsborough fort and Diamond Jubilee medals were handed out to serving members of the armed forces and the emergency services.

On Sunday, in what is being called the Big Jubilee Lunch, people all over the UK are being encouraged to share lunch with neighbours and friends in street parties or picnics to bring communities together.

On Monday, a concert will be held in front of Buckingham Palace in the area surrounding the Queen Victoria Memorial, with performances from artists including Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Elton John, Jessie J, JLS and Ed Sheeran.

When it ends at 22:00 BST, more than 4,000 beacons are due to be lit in the UK and around the world.

The Queen will light the UK's last beacon - the National Beacon - at about 22:30 BST, to be followed by a firework display at Buckingham Palace.

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