Video, Photos: One Million Turn Out at Buckingham Palace Balcony for Climax of Queen Elizabeth’s Four-Day Jubilee


queen-elizabeth-jubilee-33[Video and photos below.] England – The Jubilee celebrations came to a frenzied climax today as the Queen of England was met with a huge outpouring of adoration from a sea of people head-to-toe in red, white and blue who gathered below the balcony at Buckingham Palace to see her.

In what was the crowning event of a spectacular weekend that saw one million people descend on a rainy London, a huge crowd sung themselves hoarse as they marched to the gates of the Palace to watch the Royal Family acknowledge their affection.

The Queen emerged to a deafening roar flanked by Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Camilla and Prince Charles. The only senior member of the Firm missing was Prince Philip, who is in hospital.

To the strains of Land of Hope and Glory, led by a military brass band, the patriotic crowd gathered in anticipation before she and the rest of the Royal Family emerged for the military fly past and feu de joie gun salute.

The Jubilee well-wishers surged along The Mall led by police on horseback in an extraordinary scene, and as ever, the drizzle did little to dampen their spirits.

If anybody was in any doubt that Britain’s love for the monarchy had waned, this national outpouring of pride would soon dispel that belief, in a week that witnessed a huge surge in popularity for the Royals, and particularly the Queen.

They then gave three cheers, with the words ‘hip hip hooray’ echoing down the Mall.

And when she appeared, the Queen broke into a smile – visibly pleased – and waved as the thousands of people roared with applause, some breaking into impromptu renditions of the National Anthem.

It is only the second time that a feu de joie has been fired in Her Majesty’s reign. The first was following the Queen’s Birthday Parade in 2006 in celebration of her 80th birthday.

Next came the flypast and gun salute, but missing from the Queen’s side was the Duke of Edinburgh, who she famously described as her ‘strength and stay’ on her golden wedding anniversary in 1997.

His absence is likely to give the day a bittersweet taste for the monarch, who carried out a series of Diamond Jubilee engagements without her consort.

As a rousing rendition of God Save The Queen rang out the fly-past began, despite worries it might be halted by rain.

A Dakota flanked by two King Airs, a Lancaster, four Spitfires and a Hurricane from the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight hurtled through the skies, met with a broad smile of approval by the monarch.

Next, the Red Arrows made a spectacular appearance tearing through the skies leaving trails of red, white and blue smoke behind.

The Diamond-nine formation, in tribute to the 60-year-reign, was greeted with rapturous applause by the throng of well-wishers outside the palace.

Finally the shots of the Feu de Joie, a celebratory cascade of rifle fire from Buckingham Palace Guard of Honour, the 1st Battalion Irish Guard, rang out followed by a rousing three cheers from the troops.

The crowd showed their approval with a round of three cheers, marking a spectacular end to a truly historic Diamond Jubilee weekend.

Since 1851, when Queen Victoria made the first recorded balcony appearance during the opening of the Great Exhibition, it has been the place where monarchs have come during important national events to acknowledge the people.

But now the crowds  – many of whom camped overnight on the Mall before the back gates were opened first – were massed at the Palace’s gates.

They cheered at the sight of the woman who never expected to be Queen but has now reigned for six decades.

Union flags covered their hats, clothes, posters and flags with many wearing paper crowns in good humoured homage to the Queen.

One banner summed up the mood of the crowds and simply read – ‘Elizabeth the Great, she’s a diamond.’

The rain began to fall just before the royals appeared but did not put off the well-wishers, many of whom simply put up union flag umbrellas or donned headscarves.

Earlier, the Queen’s Guard had awaited her arrival at the palace forecourt in the 1902 State Landau carriage, which swept in to rapturous applause and the band of the Irish Guards playing the national anthem.

The first and second divisions of the Sovereign’s Escort had led the way ahead of the Queen’s carriage, and as each section of the crowd saw the monarch, screams and shouts went up.

The Queen sat next to Camilla and opposite was Charles, with all three royals waving and smiling at the spectators.

In a separate carriage, William and Kate also acknowledged the crowds and appeared to be enjoying the moment, with Harry sitting in front of them, chatting happily.

The procession had travelled down Whitehall past Downing Street and the Cenotaph and into Trafalgar Square, packed with well-wishers. When they reached The Mall, thousands cheered them as the royals waved.

Overhead were huge Union flags and the crowds stretched back into St James’s Park waving their smaller Union flags and shouting.

The procession finally reached the Palace forecourt and disappeared out of view through an arch into the quadrangle.

Prime Minister David Cameron today led salutes to the Queen and declared the Diamond Jubilee ‘above politics’, but the magnificent celebrations proved to be above borders too.

On a triumphal day, tributes poured in from across the word as well as from the pavements of the Mall in London where hundreds of thousands had gathered to celebrate.

‘I think really it is the best of Britain,’ said Mr Cameron. ‘We have seen the country come together with a sense of celebration and unity but also tremendous resilience, resilience from people who want to celebrate despite the weather and resilience of course from Her Majesty – nothing stops her doing the job she does.

‘This is something that has brought the country together and you definitely notice that in my constituency, in the smallest villages that I went to. In the whole country, everyone’s talking to each other, everyone is chatting with their neighbours. It brings communities of people together, whatever your politics.

‘These are moments when we get the chance to show off the best of Britain and that includes the institutions, the past, the history, the pageantry that we have seen today. It is above politics.’

As well as the magnificent achievement of 60 years on the throne itself, the genuine warmth of the Queen’s subjects grabbed attention around the world too.

President Barack Obama sent a personal message expressing the ‘heartfelt congratulations of the American people.’

Celebrations such as these are never seen in New York or Washington, and there was an echo of Cameron’s words when Obama pointed out that presidents and prime ministers have come and gone, but the Queen’s ‘reign has endured.’

In a video message posted on the White House website, he said the Queen was a living witness to the power of the alliance between the two nations, but there is also a personal connection.

The US president’s father, also named Barack Obama, was born in Kenya when it was part of the British Empire, before moving to the United States and beginning a degree in business administration in autumn 1959, aged 23.

In a message to the Queen, the British people and members of the Commonwealth, Mr Obama said the Queen was ‘a chief source’ of the resilience of the links between his country and the UK and called her 60-year reign ‘extraordinary’.

‘As a steadfast ally, loyal friend and tireless leader, your majesty has set an example of resolve that will be long celebrated,’ he said.

‘And as we work together to build a better future for the next generation, it is gratifying to know that the bonds between our nations remain indispensable to our two countries and to the world.’

He invoked the Jubilee beacons lit yesterday across the United Kingdom, adding: ‘May the light of your majesty’s crown continue to reign supreme for many years to come.’

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{The Daily Mail/ Newscenter}