A Celebration Fit For A Queen

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by her husband the Duke of Edinburgh wave to wellwishers as they ride Tuesday June 4, 2002, in the State Gold Coach from Buckingham Palace to St Paul's Cathedral, in London for a service of thanksgiving to celebrate her Golden Jubilee. AP

Moved by a massive show of public affection during her Golden Jubilee party, Britain's Queen Elizabeth thanked her subjects Tuesday for uniting behind celebrations of an "up and down" 50 years on the throne.

A centuries-old gold carriage carried Elizabeth through the crowd-filled streets of London during a pomp-laden climax to four days of celebrations of her 50 years on the throne.

Hundreds of thousands of people — her subjects, her fans, curious tourists — were on the streets, reports CBS News Correspondent Sam Litzinger, waving and cheering Queen Elizabeth as she continued to mark 50 years on the throne of Great Britain.

Elizabeth was not in the line of succession when she was born. It was only the abdication of her uncle "for the woman I love" that made her father king, and, upon his death in 1952, her queen.

"Yours was a vocation which you did not seek; it was a task to which you were anointed," Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said during the St. Paul's service. "It came to you at an age when few people are ready to assume burdens of responsibility, even far lighter ones.

"Here, now, in this great cathedral, we give thanks, Your Majesty, for your devotion and your dedication over 50 extraordinary years," he said. "And we offer in return our respect, our admiration and, yes, our love."

The royal couple went afterward to the medieval Guildhall for a luncheon, where the queen said she had been "overwhelmed" and "deeply moved" by the public response to her Golden Jubilee.

She also made a rare personal statement about her family, in obvious response to comment that her children's divorces mean that she and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, must have been distant parents.

"I take this opportunity to mention the strength I draw from my own family," the queen said in the broadcast speech.

"The Duke of Edinburgh has made an invaluable contribution to my life over these past 50 years," she said. "We both of us have a special place in our hearts for our children."

She singled out Prince Charles, saying, "I want to express my admiration for the Prince of Wales and for all he has achieved for this country.

"Our children, and all my family, have given me such love and unstinting help over the years, and especially in recent months," she said, referring to the deaths of both her mother and sister since February.

Earlier, the four-ton, horse-drawn coach — first used by King George III in 1762 — drew the queen slowly from her Buckingham Palace residence to St Paul's Cathedral for a thanksgiving service.

Guns fired in salute, trumpets played and footmen walked alongside, as the queen waved to her subjects and held the same restrained smile she always shows, no matter what the occasion.

Also in the procession were the rest of the royal family, with the queen's handsome teenage grandson Prince William — second in line to the throne after his father Prince Charles — drawing cheers and screams from his legions of female fans.

Hundreds of people camped on sidewalks overnight to secure good spots for Tuesday's procession. Many had attended the concert Monday and decided to wait for the parade despite wet and chilly weather.

Security along the route was massive, with thousands of police officers lining the streets. Helicopters hovered over London and police boats cruised the River Thames.

The queen looked happy but tired during Tuesday's ceremonies, following an unprecedented pop concert in her honour on Monday night in Buckingham Palace gardens.

One million people gathered inside and outside the grounds for the "Party at the Palace" where a Who's Who of British rock and pop over the last half-century shook the normally sedate surroundings, and comics struck some irreverent notes.

The Golden Jubilee — only the third for a British monarch, the last being Queen Victoria's in 1887 — has sparked a wave of nostalgia across Britain and affection for the 76-year-old monarch.

After the formal luncheon, the royals threw off their solemnity and headed back to the palace for a lighthearted parade of Commonwealth displays, music, dancing and rather comic floats depicting 50 years of cultural history from old cars and TV shows to dances and fashion.

After the parade, a river of flag-waving humanity flowed down the Mall toward the palace while the royal family went to their viewing balcony to receive a deafening cheer and watch a 27-plane flypast ranging from a huge Globemaster transport and the supersonic Concorde, escorted by eight Red Arrow aerobatic jet fighters.

As the last jets moved away and the family went inside, an ecstatic crowd burst into "Land of Hope and Glory," the country's favorite patriotic sing-along, followed by chants of "We Want the Queen!" "We Want the Queen!"

The queen and Prince Philip, clearly moved, returned to the balcony, followed by their family for another chorus of song.

These days, at least, reports Litzinger, it's hard to find any Briton who's not a royalist.
  • Brian Dakss

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