London gets ready for Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend of celebrations
09:10 01 June 2012
Final preparations are under way for the massive weekend of Diamond Jubilee celebrations to mark the Queen’s 60-year reign.
Up to a million people are expected to line the banks of the River Thames and nearby open spaces to watch a majestic 1,000-strong flotilla sail through London on Sunday.
And stars including Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John will perform at a concert at Buckingham Palace on Monday in honour of the longest reigning monarch since Queen Victoria.
Almost six million Britons plan to throw a Jubilee party this weekend, according to a study.
A St Paul’s Cathedral service of thanksgiving will be the highlight of Tuesday, ending with the Queen appearing on Buckingham Palace’s balcony to acknowledge the tens of thousands expected to fill The Mall.
The celebrations begin on tomorrow with the Queen enjoying her traditional outing to the Epsom Derby. A family festival takes place in Hyde Park.
With London expected to be packed to see Sunday’s river pageant, the event could be accompanied by showers and cold conditions.
While Monday - the first of two Jubilee bank holidays - could be drier and brighter, bank holiday Tuesday could see another weather front arriving from the west, bringing more rain.
Transport for London advises motorists to avoid central London for all but essential journeys over the weekend.
London transport commissioner Peter Hendy said: “Central London will be very busy throughout the weekend and everyone intending to be in central London should use public transport, plan their journeys ahead and check before they travel.”
Traffic information company Inrix said severe congestion is likely in London on Sunday, with the river pageant closing seven Thames bridges.
At dawn today hundreds of soldiers rode on horseback through the deserted streets of London to rehearse the state procession for the Jubilee.
Members of the Armed Forces performed a full dress rehearsal ahead of the spectacle on Tuesday.
The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment rode from the Palace of Westminster along Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, then through Admiralty Arch and along the Mall to Buckingham Palace.
The route was lined with personnel from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, Foot Guards and Massed Bands of the Household Division, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the Queen’s Colour Squadron of the Royal Air Force.
The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery simulated firing a 60-gun salute on Horse Guards Parade as some 2,000 servicemen and women took part in the rehearsal.
The 1902 state landau carriage, which will transport the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh from a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Tuesday and was used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their wedding day, followed behind the mounted regiment, but remained empty.
Warrant Officer 1 Paul Barker, state ceremonial training officer for the Royal Navy, said he was delighted by how well it had gone.
“It went very well this morning. We are at the right stage that we need to be at, we don’t want to peak too early but it’s everything I expected them to achieve.
“On Tuesday there will be a mixture of nerves and pride; this is a one-off event, it’s not going to happen again in our lifetime and it will give us lots and lots of memories for the future.
“We have lots of pep talks with our sailors and it’s nice to see young sailors in naval uniform on the streets of the capital.”