London: Queen Elizabeth II on Monday provided a temporary lift to Britain`s economic gloom by leading a 1000- strong flotilla on River Thames as hundreds of thousands gathered along the historic river and on streets across the country to celebrate 60 years of her reign.
The Diamond Jubilee pageant along the river that has played a pivotal role in Britain`s history generated a wave of patriotism among large sections of the population, while some republicans protested against the monarchy, calling for an elected head of state.
Others preferred to holiday elsewhere during the extra days off work during the extended Diamond Jubilee weekend.
Britain`s famously fickle weather was evident as rains and dank grey weather gripped London and other parts of the country, but that did not deter royal enthusiasts camping overnight along the Thames to occupy vantage points for today`s pageant to celebrate 86-year-old Queen`s rule.
Many members of the royal family joined the pageantry celebrations, including Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, as they were cheered by thousands of flag-waving people along the river.
There were reports of many passengers being stranded at train stations en route to London due to overcrowded trains heaving with royal enthusiasts heading for the pageant.
The pageant is one of several events planned for the extended weekend until June 5. London and the Thames have not seen such a collection of vessels for 350 years. It was in 1662 that a similar event was held in honour of King Charles II and Queen Catherine of Braganza. A flamboyant musical event was held on the river in 1717 by King George I.
An Indian flag was carried on one of the smaller boats represneting countries of the commonwealth as the contingent rowed by the Queen and the royal family.