Recap: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Service and Procession

Crowd gathered on London’s Strand in front of Charing Cross Station, waiting for the Queen’s motorcade to travel from St. Paul’s to Westminster Palace. (Photo: Sean O’Neill)

On Tuesday morning (June 5), the United Kingdom formally marked the Diamond Jubilee, marking Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne, with a National Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The Queen rode to St Paul’s in the state Bentley, seated beside her lady-in-waiting Lady Susan Hussey because her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, was unable to attend the event due to his hospitalization from a bladder infection.

A crowd gathered around the cathedral shouted “God Save the Queen” on her arrival. But spectators then fell mostly silent as they watched the Queen walk up the steps dressed in a light-mint-green outfit with hand-sown beading designed by Angela Kelly.

“She is so astonishingly dignified,” said Emma McGhee, of Blackpool, who listened to the proceedings by loudspeakers posted along the length of The Mall. “I simply had to be here to show her support.”

Inside St Paul’s, the Queen sat next to Prince Charles and Camilla. Seated nearby were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and other members of the Royal Family.

The service included the performance by St. Paul’s Diamond Choir of an anthem specially commissioned for The Queen on her Diamond Jubilee.

Spectators had much praise for Kate‘s cream lace dress by Alexander McQueen and a hat by Jane Taylor. Crowds were able to glimpse her as she entered the Palace of Westminster, where the Royal Family attended a lunch reception at Westminster Hall.

“Kate has a superb sense of style,” said Cornwall resident Sarah Brathwaite, one of the spectators in London. “I think it’s lovely how she uses her position to show British talent in fashion.”

In the afternoon, crowds lined 12-deep along a route from Westminster Palace, along Whitehall, past Trafalgar Square and along The Mall, angling for views of the procession of the Royal Family to Buckingham Palace.

The Queen rode in the 1902 State Landau, the same carriage that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge rode in after their wedding ceremony last year. The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, whose shiny armor brought to mind medieval soldiers on horseback, accompanied the carriage.

One mother, Emma Bramley of Wolverhampton, half-jokingly instructed her young daughter on the protocol if the Queen were to stop her carriage and say hello. “You should curtsey, and you shouldn’t extend your hand to shake until she extends her arm first.” Bramley also explained that you refer to the Queen as “Her Majesty” and not “Her Royal Highness,” which is a designation for lesser-ranked members of the royal family.

Back at the palace, the Queen and the Royal Family made an appearance on the balcony. The Queen’s Guard, standing in the forecourt of the palace, fired a “feu de joie,” a French term for when each soldier fires in succession along the ranks to make a continuous sound.

In a fly-past by the Royal Air Force, about 18 military aircraft, including famous names like the Lancaster, the Spitfire and the Hurricane, flew over Buckingham Palace at about 1,500-feet over the Mall. The Irish Guards led three rounds of “Hip, Hip, Hurray,” which was echoed by the crowd.

In deep gratitude for the nation’s show of support, the Queen recorded a video message of thanks, which is to be posted online at 6 pm BST on The Royal Monarchy’s YouTube channel.

Sean O’Neill is a London-based correspondent for BBC Travel.