British Queen marks 60 years since coronation



London: Queen Elizabeth II kicked off the four-day Diamond Jubilee celebrations this weekend to mark 60 years since being officially crowned Queen of England.

The 87-year-old monarch was joined by husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the Epsom Derby yesterday, one of the key events in Britain's racing calendar which was also their first official engagement soon after the coronation ceremony in 1953.

Today, the official day she was crowned back in 1953, was spent in private at Windsor Castle, one of her royal weekend residences west of London.

"They are spending the day privately," a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said, adding that the main focus of the celebrations will be on Tuesday when the Queen will be joined by the royal family and 2,000 guests at an official service at Westminster Abbey in London to mark the milestone.

Tomorrow, she and 91-year-old Prince Philip will attend a reception for the Royal National Institute for the Blind at St James' Palace in London.

The Queen took the throne on February 6, 1952 upon the death of her father King George VI, but to allow for a period of national mourning, she was crowned 16 months later at the same Abbey.

It was the first coronation to be televised and more than 20 million people in Britain watched it live while another 11 million listened on radio.

The event sparked the popular growth of TV in Britain.

Prince Charles created history when he became the first child to witness his mother's Coronation as Sovereign.

Today, the BBC broadcast a digitally remastered version of its original black-and-white footage from 1953 for the first time.

Prayers for the monarch were said across the country today, with the Church of England having written a new prayer to mark the occasion, giving thanks for her "long and glorious reign".

The coronation anniversary is far more low-key than the Diamond Jubilee celebrations last year and include exhibitions of memorabilia, gun salutes and a series of garden parties.

The Royal Collection Trust has released an official range of commemorative China embellished with 22-carat gold.

Around 100 boats took part in a river pageant at Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, to mark the occasion today as a floating tribute to the Queen.

PTI