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9:35pm UK, Saturday June 02, 2012
Four days of nationwide Diamond Jubilee celebrations have begun with the Queen attending the Epsom Derby.
Demonstrating her lifelong passion for horses, Queen Elizabeth II marked the start of an extended holiday weekend to celebrate her 60-year reign with a trip to the races.
The Queen, joined by the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the royal family, watched red hot favourite Camelot win the classic event by five lengths.
The royals were treated to a gala performance by the 8-13 favourite horse, who also won this year’s 2,000 Guineas race.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by his son Joseph, it is the first time a father and son duo have won the Derby.
On arrival at Epsom, the royal couple were given an affectionate welcome from a crowd of about 130,000 race-goers as they were driven along the straight and met at the winning post.
Classical singer Katherine Jenkins sang the national anthem, wowing the crowds, as the Queen took her seat in the royal box.
A huge cheer went up as many of the spectators waved union flags and lined the Queen’s route into the stand named in her honour and opened by the monarch in 1992.
A large party, including the Duke of York and his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, and the monarch’s racing manager John Warren, joined the Queen at the racing-calendar highlight.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex also accompanied the 86-year-old monarch in her royal box along with the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
The royals were also treated to an aerial display by members of the British Army’s Red Devils parachute team before the main event – the racing – began.
Grey skies threatened rain but the Queen was dressed in a white silk dress with a blue floral print, and a royal blue crepe wool coat by Stewart Parvin and matching hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan.
A host of famous names also joined the racegoers: Donna Air, Mischa Barton, Phil Tuffnell and Matt Dawson, while the London 2012 Olympics were recognised with the Great Britain women’s hockey team present.
Unlike in last year’s race, the Queen did not enter a horse in the Derby, or the other six featured races at the Epsom Downs racecourse.
Racecourse manager Rupert Trevelyan told Sky News he was “extremely proud” to be hosting the Queen at the event.
“The Queen’s horses have been competing at the highest level for more than 60 years. It’s her passion,” Mr Trevelyan said.
Anthony Cane, the racecourse’s chairman, added: “At the end of the day, her love is to come here.”
Speaking about the Queen’s passion for all things equestrian, he said: “She’s incredibly knowledgeable.
“Her knowledge of thoroughbreds and breeding goes way back. She’s absolutely amazing.”
Meanwhile, in the East End of London vessels of all shapes and sizes like the square rigger Tenacious continue to muster ahead of Sunday’s showpiece 1,000 flotilla river pageant.
New pictures released show the finishing touches being made to the royal barge – Spirit of Chartwell – at a secret and secure location.
Security will be of paramount importance as the Royal Family takes to the River Thames – but not to the point of distraction, organisers said.
“I hope that she enjoys the pageant, that she feels the affection and admiration of not only her people through the Commonwealth, but the fact that the rest of the world wants to come to the party is in itself a tribute to her,” Lord Salisbury told Sky News.
Sky’s senior correspondent David Bowden reports from Putney, south-west London, where the flotilla sets sail:
Hundreds of boats have been taking up their positions on the River Thames ahead of the Jubilee Pageant.
Among those taking part are sea cadets from across the country, dragon boat crews, rowing teams and single man kayaks.
They will paddle ahead of scores of larger craft including pleasure cruisers, lifeboats and the little ships which rescued thousands of allied soldiers from the Normandy beaches in the Second World War.
There are 40 of them here, each with their own unique history, all preparing to take part in another history making event more than 60 years on.
All day curious onlookers have watched from the Putney banks as the Pageant flotilla bobbed into formation.
Some of the boats are very old, some brand new and the crews too span the ages, yet all share common emotions, excitement, pride and just a little nervousness about what they are going to be part of.
Even the sun came out late in the afternoon to warm the mood even more.
Sky correspondent Emma Birchley reports from West India Dock in East London, where some of the boats taking part in the pageant have been setting off down the river.
The bustle of activity began by 6am as boat owners made final preparations to set off to their moorings upriver beyond Putney.
An array of vessels from historic working boats to barges and lifeboats had spent the night at the east London dock.
During the morning, first the modern cruisers then the older vessels made their way to a lock before emerging onto the Thames.
Once the tall ship Tenacious had departed, only the barges and narrowboats were left. They will leave for their muster points first thing in the morning, ready for the start of the pageant just after 2.30pm.
On Monday there will be a pop concert in front of Buckingham Palace while events will end on Tuesday with a service at St Paul’s Cathedral and appearance of the Royals on the palace balcony.
:: See how the first day of Diamond Jubilee festivities unfolded:
Read more about the Diamond Jubilee: