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There might be something to the age-old chant, “Long live the Queen!” because Queen Elizabeth II will commemorate her 60-year reign this summer. Diamond Jubilee celebrations will take place in London from June 2-5, and the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant is set for Sunday, June 3. The pageant will feature a procession of 1,000 boats traveling along the River Thames, from Battersea to Tower Bridge, flanking the Royal Barge which will transport the Queen. The procession — which will include vessels of all shapes and sizes from around the world, including tall ships and square riggers, fishing and cargo boats, yachts, tugs, steamers and canoes — is expected to be one of the biggest televised events in history, according to tourism board, VisitEngland.
“The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant is a remarkable undertaking and a fantastic draw for London,” said VisitEngland chairman, Lady Cobham. “However, the rest of England has also been gripped by the occasion, and there are celebrations taking place throughout the country, from the royal family’s official residences, stately homes and national galleries to parks and public spaces.”
Here are a few of VisitEngland’s highlights of the Jubilee year calendar:
Sixty Photographs for Sixty Years — The Drawings Gallery, Windsor CastleOn Feb. 4, an exhibition of 60 photographs of Queen Elizabeth II will go on display at Windsor Castle. The exhibition presents a portrait of the Queen’s reign as captured in fleeting moments on both official occasions and family gatherings. The exhibition includes pictures of Queen Elizabeth II on regional and international official visits, leading the nation on Remembrance Day, in the Garter Day procession at Windsor, hosting heads of state and inspecting the graduating officer cadets at Sandhurst. The exhibition will run until January 2013. www.royalcollection.org.uk
The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned — Hampton Court PalaceRunning from April 5 to Sept. 30, this royal-themed exhibition tells a story about love, celebrity and power and involves some of the key dignitaries that lived and died at Hampton Court Palace — Charles II, James II, William III, Queen Mary II and Queen Anne. This temporary exhibition will contain artwork and include items from the Royal Collection that reveal the stories and scandals of royal life. www.hrp.org.uk
Diamond Jubilee Pageant — Windsor CastleHeld in the private grounds of Windsor Castle on the evenings of May 10, 11 and 13, the Diamond Jubilee Pageant will pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II’s 60-year reign in a performance that brings together more than 500 horses and 800 international performers. The 90-minute show will feature dance, music and military and equestrian displays from around the world. www.diamond-jubilee-pageant.com
Diamond Jubilee Beacons — Various LocationsEngland has a centuries-long history of beacon lighting to mark national events, and the beacon is widely recognized as a symbol of united celebration. On June 4, beacons will be lit across the U.K. as they were for the Queen’s Silver and Golden Jubilees. www.diamondjubileebeacons.co.uk