5 Jun 2012

Crowds cheer Queen's Thames pageant

6:46 am on 5 June 2012

The Queen has joined a spectacular armada of 1000 vessels on London's River Thames, watched by cheering crowds celebrating her 60th year on the throne.

Hundreds of thousands of onlookers, undeterred by wind and rain, packed the 11km route for the massive flotilla to mark the Diamond Jubilee on Sunday.

Typically cold, wet and windy British summer weather was not enough to deter more than a million people from lining the River Thames.

Pealing bells greeted the flotilla as the Queen's gilded royal barge sailed alongside an array of boats, including Maori waka Te Hono Ki Aotearoa, leisure cruisers, yachts, Venetian gondolas, tugs, steamers, dragon boats and kayaks.

Organisers said the river pageant was the largest of its kind since a spectacle held for King Charles II in 1662.

The Queen, wearing a silver and white dress with matching coat designed by Angela Kelly, smiled broadly and waved to the crowds from the royal barge The Spirit of Chartwell alongside her 90-year-old husband Prince Philip.

They were accompanied on the barge by Prince Charles, and Prince William and new wife Kate who wore a vivid red dress and matching hat.

There were 10 musical barges, carrying choirs and orchestras.

Elsewhere in Britain, organisers said millions of people attended street parties in honour of the 86-year-old sovereign.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla dropped into one in central London before the pageant, joining in a rousing rendition of the national anthem.

Celebrations will shift to Buckingham Palace in central London on Monday, when it provides the backdrop for a special concert.

Artists including Elton John, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder will perform on a stage constructed around the Queen Victoria memorial in front of the palace.

Some 4500 beacons are being lit around the world in honour of the Diamond Jubilee. At the end of the concert, the Queen will light the last beacon.