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Queen Elizabeth II gave her Christmas Message to the nation as her Diamond Jubilee year draws to a close.

Since her first message in 1952, The Queen has ruled through enormous historic events and periods of change.


Queen Elizabeth II gave her first Christmas message in 1952 which was broadcast in sound only on television in the UK.

However, her message five years later was perhaps more significant as it was the first to be televised.

The Queen read from the Long Library at Sandringham House and in her message she noted how it was the 25th anniversary of the first Christmas message broadcast on radio.

She also highlighted the advance of technology which allowed her message to be seen by people up and down the country in their homes.

However, despite marking how things were changing, she also spoke about the importance of holding on to ideals and values such as religion, self-restraint and honesty.


During this decade the Queen gave birth to Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. It was a period of huge social upheaval which the Queen reflected in her 1966 message.

She used the broadcast to speak about the increasingly prominent and important role played by women in society.

It was also during this year that the Aberfan disaster occurred in which 144 people were killed following the collapse of a colliery spoil tip into the Welsh village of Aberfan.

No Christmas address was given by the Queen in 1969 because Elizabeth felt that with the investiture of Prince Charles and the release of a documentary about the Royal Family she had had enough coverage on television.


A number of the Queen’s Christmas Day messages during this decade reflected on the continuing troubles in Northern Ireland.

The monarch also celebrated the wedding of her daughter, The Princess Anne, to Captain Mark Phillips.

In 1977, the Queen’s speech celebrated the Silver Jubilee. She used her message to express hope for a reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

In August of that year, she visited Northern Ireland for the first time in 11 years and she attempted to help push for peace.


The first Christmas Day Message of this decade attracted a record 28 million viewers in the United Kingdom.

The Queen reflected on celebrations for The Queen Mother’s 80th birthday and used her message to address the themes of service in all its forms.

The Queen’s 1982 message marked the 30th anniversary of the first Christmas message. She delivered this message in the library of Windsor Castle for the very first time.

The year was marked by British troops fighting in the Falklands War and so the theme of the message by the Queen was “the sea”.

Prince William was also born during this year with Prince Harry born in 1984.


In 1990, Her Majesty paid tribute to the role of the armed services as troops prepared for Operation Desert Storm in the First Gulf War.

A year later, her message highlighted the huge changes occurring across Eastern Europe and particularly the Soviet Union, which was dissolved into 15 states on Christmas Day.

In her speech in 1995, the Queen reminded the country of the 50th anniversaries of VE Day and VJ Day and paid tribute to soldiers who had died in the Second World War.

Two years later, the Queen’s message opened with a reminder of a personal loss when Princess Diana died just a few months earlier. But she also spoke of her joy of married life.

In 1999, she told how she was looking forward to the new Millennium.


The Queen used her first Christmas message of the new Millennium to reflect on the role of faith in communities.

The following year, Her Majesty made reference to foot-and-mouth disease, which had crippled Britain’s farming community, and the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Her 50th Christmas broadcast in 2002 was tinged with personal sadness for the Queen as she reflected on the deaths of The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.

But she also remembered the joyous scenes when the nation celebrated her Golden Jubilee.

In 2005, she drew attention to tragedies such as the south-east Asia tsunami which killed more than 230,000 people in 14 countries, the earthquake in Kashmir and the 7/7 bombings in London.

Critics pointed to her omission of Prince Charles’s wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles, with some in the media describing it as a “snub”.

A year later was the first time the speech was made available as a podcast.

In 2008, she addressed people’s concerns about the global economic crash and called on the nation to work for a better future and not accept defeat.

Queen Elizabeth II gave her Christmas Message to the nation as her Diamond Jubilee year draws to a close

Queen Elizabeth II gave her Christmas Message to the nation as her Diamond Jubilee year draws to a close


In 2010, the Christmas message for filmed for the first time at Hampton Court Palace.

She spoke of the unifying force of sport at building communities and featured footage of Prince William and Prince Harry playing football with orphans in Lesotho.

This year, the Queen paid tribute to the success of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes at London 2012 and reflected on the celebrations for her Diamond Jubilee.

It was filmed for the first time in 3D… in stark contrast to that audio-only Christmas message of 1952.

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Adamas is a new perfume created especially for Queen Elizabeth II by the Royal Society of Chemistry as a Diamond jubilee Christmas present.

The perfume, which was presented to the Queen this week at Buckingham Palace was created with her reign and interests in mind representing the many facets of our Queen’s personality.

Described as a beautiful green floral fragrance created in a classical style with subtle modern twists, the scent, named Adamas after the Greek word for diamond, is a Christmas gift for the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee year which has seen a host of celebrations across the globe.

It is contained in a bespoke crystal bottle specially designed by Yorkshire glassmakers David Saunders and Andrew Wallace, and in keeping with the royal family’s support of recycling the red, gold and pink bottle was fashioned from recycled Darlington crystal.

The Queen, who celebrated her 65th or Sapphire wedding anniversary this week, has sat on the thrones of seven countries for 60 years since her ascension following her father, King George VI’s death in 1952.

In partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), CPL Aromas, the British-based international fragrance house that created the scent to an RSC brief, took inspiration from the scents and natural products in commonwealth countries, such as Jamaica, Canada and India.

Perfumers Stephene Bengana and Ange Stavrevka, who collaborated to make the scent also wanted to reflect the impressive length of time her Majesty has been on the throne by using fragrances that were characteristically worn at the time of her coronation.

Ange Stavrevka  said: “Sensual floral’s were popular during this era as were fresh and lively green accords both of which feature.”

Adamas is a perfume created especially for the Queen by the RSC as a Diamond jubilee Christmas present

Adamas is a perfume created especially for the Queen by the RSC as a Diamond jubilee Christmas present

The Royal inspired perfume has a light sweet scent formed from the peach and pear notes combined with Lilly of the valley, rose, Indian Jasmine and Tuberose oils, with Canadian Cedar Leaf oil adding a deeper, slightly warmer edge to the fragrance.

Jamaican Pimento Leaf, Sri Lankan Cinnamon leaf and Australian Sandalwood oils also help form the warm subtle base behind the perfume.

There is bad news though for anyone wanting to smell like the queen, this scent will never be available to the common folk: the RSC has confirmed that the fragrance will never be offered to anyone other than the Queen.

President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Professor Lesley Yellowlees said: “The RSC, of which the Queen is Patron, wishes to mark her Majesty’s jubilee in a special fashion and with her agreement, we set about creating something that would echo her own interests while having a unique aroma.”

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have been given a glimpse of village life in Papua New Guinea.

A choir of women in floral shirts and grass skirts welcomed the couple, who are on a tour to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, to Boera.

The Prince of Wales and the duchess of Cornwall were shown crafts, canoe building and an aid project before a state dinner in capital Port Moresby.

Prince Charles, colonel-in-chief of the local Royal Pacific Islands Regiment, earlier inspected a military parade.

Dressed in the forest green uniform of the regiment, he presented infantrymen with new colors at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby.

In a speech, he introduced himself in the local Tok Pisin language as the “first child of Mrs. Queen”, which brought cheers and applause from the crowd of about 5,000 people.

His words translated as: “I bring you greetings from Her Majesty the Queen of Papua New Guinea and from all my family members during this celebration of the Diamond Jubilee.”

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have been given a glimpse of village life in Papua New Guinea

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have been given a glimpse of village life in Papua New Guinea

The event also included an open-air church service, in which prayers were said for the Queen, while the local culture was showcased in dance and music.

Tribes from across Papua New Guinea were present, including Huli men with their yellow painted faces and Asaro mudmen, with large false heads and bodies covered in grey clay.

The royal couple arrived on the island on Saturday on the first leg of a two-week tour of Commonwealth countries, which will also see them visit Australia and New Zealand.

It is the fourth time Prince Charles has visited Papua New Guinea but the first time for Camilla.

During a visit to the National Bird of Paradise and Orchid Garden, the Duchess of Cornwall was presented with a rare hybrid orchid named in her honor, the Dendrobium Camilla.

At Boera village, hundreds of residents turned out to greet Prince Charles and the duchess.

Jenny Lohia, 24, topless and dressed traditionally in a leaf skirt and body paintings, gave Camilla a peck on the cheek as she placed a necklace of shells around her neck as a welcoming present.

They royal couple were shown local painting, weaving and pottery and toured the aid project concerned with the replanting of coastal mangroves.

The couple were guests of honor at the state dinner later, which was hosted by governor general Sir Michael Ogio and his wife.

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Queen Elizabeth II and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness shook hands for the first time

Queen Elizabeth II and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness shook hands for the first time

The last day of Queen Elizabeth’s two-day visit to Northern Ireland was marked by an historic handshake and a huge party.

Her Majesty and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness shook hands for the first time.

The meeting between the Queen and Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister took place at a charity event in Belfast on Wednesday morning.

In the afternoon she attended a Diamond Jubilee party attended by 20,000 in Stormont.

The Queen and Martin McGuinness shook hands at a private meeting and later shook hands in public.

The private meeting, in a room at the theatre, involved a group of seven people, including Irish President Michael D. Higgins and Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson.

It is understood Martin McGuinness welcomed both the Queen and the Irish president in Irish.


The deputy first minister is said to have commented on the Queen’s visit to Dublin last year, and in particular her comments regarding all the victims of the Troubles.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: “He emphasized the need to acknowledge the pain of all victims of the conflict and their families.”

Sinn Fein said Martin McGuinness told the Queen that their meeting was a “powerful signal that peace-building requires leadership”.

Later, as the Queen left to continue her Diamond Jubilee tour of Northern Ireland, the pair shook hands again, this time in public.

As they shook hands for a second time, Martin McGuinness wished the Queen well in Irish, which translates as: “Goodbye and God bless.”

When asked how it was to meet the Queen, Martin McGuinness replied “very nice.”

The main event had been billed as one to celebrate the role of the arts in contributing to reconciliation and peace-building and not as part of the Jubilee celebrations.

President Michael D. Higgins said he and his wife, Sabina, had been delighted “to have the opportunity for a brief but very warm meeting” with the Queen.

He said it marked “another important step on the journey to reconciliation on this island”.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said the Queen’s visit to the Republic of Ireland last year had “taken relations between the two countries to a new level”.

The spokesperson added: “We think it is right that the Queen should meet representatives from all parts of the community.”

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said he very much welcomed the meeting between the Queen and Martin McGuinness.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin, Gerry Adams said: “It brings our journey of relationship building within this island and between these islands onto a new plane.”

He added: “I think the vast majority of unionists will be pleased this happened because they know it was essentially a real gesture towards their sense of identity and their sense of allegiance.”

“Whatever personal feelings Martin may have, no more than myself, doesn’t come into it. It was a good thing for him to do and I commend him for it,” he added.

Those present at the Lyric event included the pianist Barry Douglas, poet Michael Longley and actors Adrian Dunbar and Conleth Hill.

The Queen and Prince Philip later toured Titanic Belfast, a new visitors’ centre located near where the ship was built. She has also unveiled a plaque to commemorate the visit.

She enjoyed a lunch which included traditional Irish soda bread, Comber potatoes, the sweet toffee yellow man, and ice cream.

At the end of the day the Queen and Prince Philip were driven through the grounds of Northern Ireland’s seat of government in an open-topped vehicle.

The royal motorcade was cheered by around 20,000 attending a party to mark the monarch’s 60-year reign.

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The Queen’s Jubilee celebrations are to conclude with a glittering procession and service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.


The Queen's Jubilee celebrations are to conclude with a glittering procession and service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral

The Queen's Jubilee celebrations are to conclude with a glittering procession and service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral

10:30 St Paul’s service begins

11:30 The Queen is driven to Mansion House reception

12:45 Livery hosts Diamond Jubilee Lunch at Westminster Hall

14:20 Carriage procession begins

14:40 Royal Family arrives at Buckingham Palace


The A-list concert for Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is taking place outside Buckingham Palace.

The event kicked off with the Massed Bands of the Household Division playing for the 12,000 ticket holders and the thousands more on The Mall in London.

Pop star Robbie Williams then took to the specially-constructed stage around the Queen Victoria Memorial.

Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul McCartney are among the stars who have yet to perform before the Queen and other members of the Royal Family.

The Queen was not present for the first 90 minutes of the concert, taking her seat in the Royal Box at 21:00 BST.

The evening will end with the Queen lighting one of 4,500 beacons across the world marking her 60-year reign.

The concert is being broadcast live on BBC One and BBC Radio 2 in the UK and to millions around the world.

It is a joint venture between the BBC and Gary Barlow, who co-wrote Sing, the official song for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul McCartney are among the stars who have yet to perform before the Queen and other members of the Royal Family

Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul McCartney are among the stars who have yet to perform before the Queen and other members of the Royal Family

Robbie Williams was followed on stage by Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am, his fellow Voice judge Jessie J and boy band JLS.

Gary Barlow then took to the stage himself to perform a surprise duet with Cheryl Cole.

Next on the bill was Sir Cliff Richard, who performed a decade-straddling medley of hits and his 1968 Eurovision track Congratulations.

Singer Grace Jones surely deserved some herself for performing Slave to the Rhythm while spinning a hula hoop around her midriff.

The world of classical music has been represented by Chinese pianist Lang Lang, US soprano Renee Fleming and English tenor Alfie Boe.

Other artists who have performed include Annie Lennox, Ed Sheeran and Sir Tom Jones.

Dame Shirley Bassey performed Diamonds are Forever, while Kylie Minogue – dressed as a pearly queen – was joined by street dance crew Flawless.

She was followed by Sir Elton John, who sang such tracks as Crocodile Rock and Our Song in a sparkly pink jacket.

Later pop veterans Madness will perform Our House from the roof of Buckingham Palace – the same place that Queen guitarist Brian May played the National Anthem during the Golden Jubilee concert in 2002.

Between the music acts, hosting duties are being handled by Rob Brydon, Miranda Hart, Lenny Henry and Lee Mack.

The Duke of Edinburgh is not attending the event after being taken to hospital with a bladder infection.

“We all wish him the best for a speedy recovery,” said Sir Paul McCartney.

“I hear it’s not too bad.”

Speaking backstage, Sir Cliff Richard said he had enjoyed a “fantastic” view while performing on the £200,000 ($320,000) stage, designed by world-renowned architect Mark Fisher.

“When I looked down The Mall, the crowd seemed to go all the way up to the Admiralty Arch,” he said.

Musician and presenter Jools Holland was similarly enthused following his appearance.

“The memory I’ll have was the feeling of love off all the people,” he said.

“It’s a great unifier for everybody all over the island.”

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Prince Philip has been hospitalized with a bladder infection at King Edward VII hospital in London after paramedics were called to Windsor Castle this afternoon as a precautionary measure.

Prince Philip, who celebrates his 91st birthday this Sunday, is being treated and will remain in hospital for a few days.

Yesterday Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, stood for four hours in the freezing rain during the Queen’s Jubilee river pageant.

He appeared to be in good spirits when he joined the rest of his family on the royal barge for the Diamond Jubilee pageant.

Like the Queen, Prince Philip stood for most of the 80-minute journey down the Thames and did appear to be in discomfort.

The Duke of Edinburgh has previously suffered from a bladder infection in February 2002.

Today staff at ambulance control in Berkshire received a call from Windsor Castle shortly after 2:00 p.m. reporting that Prince Phillip was feeling unwell.

Prince Philip was reported to have been suffering from an infection and the medical crew used a chair to help him into the ambulance before he set off to a London hospital.

He had been due to attend a special concert at Buckingham Palace tonight organized by singer Gary Barlow with Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Tom Jones, Jessie J and others.

Queen Elizabeth II will continue with her engagements as planned as will the rest of the Royal family, despite the Duke’s health scare.

Tomorrow Prince Philip was also due to be at the Queen’s side during a service at St Paul’s Cathedral in the morning, followed by receptions at Mansion House and in the Guildhall, as well as lunch at Westminster Hall.

In the afternoon, a carriage procession in a State Landaus is due to take place with other members of the Royal family. However, the Queen will now attend the event without him at her side.

A Buckingham palace spokesman said: “The Duke of Edinburgh was this afternoon taken to the King Edward VII Hospital in London as a precautionary measure after developing a bladder infection. He is currently receiving treatment.

“He will remain in hospital under observation for a few days.

“He is understandably disappointed at missing this evening’s Diamond Jubilee concert and tomorrow’s engagement.”

Prince Philip has been hospitalized with a bladder infection at King Edward VII hospital in London after paramedics were called to Windsor Castle this afternoon as a precautionary measure

Prince Philip has been hospitalized with a bladder infection at King Edward VII hospital in London after paramedics were called to Windsor Castle this afternoon as a precautionary measure

Prince Philip has remained remarkably active in recent weeks despite being treated for a blocked coronary artery just before Christmas.

Just three weeks ago he was pictured lugging a heavy car battery around at the Windsor Horse Show apparently with little difficulty.

On December 23 Prince Philip was rushed to hospital via helicopter for emergency treatment.

Buckingham Palace said at the time the Prince underwent a “minimally invasive procedure of coronary stenting” after he was taken to hospital suffering chest pains.

The Royal Family had been gathering at Sandringham, a traditional royal retreat in Norfolk, for Christmas, when he fell ill.

Prince Philip spent four days recovering from the procedure – including Christmas Day – before he was released on December 27.

The Duke of Edinburgh is an incredibly active man, who has enjoyed good health for much of his life.

He has shunned the pursuits of typical pensioners and even as an octogenarian continued to compete in demanding carriage driving competitions.

Before his heart scare last Christmas, Prince Philip’s most recent illness was an uncharacteristic cold in October that forced him to pull out of an overnight stay in Italy for the launch of the ARC Green Pilgrimage Network.

Prince Philip had just completed a busy 11-day official royal tour to Australia with Queen Elizabeth II, 85, that saw them visit Perth, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane.

Commentators billed the long haul trip as the couple’s last to the continent because of their age, but the Palace dismissed speculation it was a “farewell” visit.

In 2008 Prince Philip was treated for a serious chest infection. On that occasion he stayed at the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in London

However, most of Prince Philip’s ailments and injuries have been sports-related.

He suffered arthritis in his right wrist from playing polo and tried to dull the pain with Butazolodin, a drug more usually given to lame horses and recommended by his head groom.

It was reported he later stopped taking it because of the side effects.

In 1961, the Duke of Edinburgh broke a bone in his left ankle in a collision on the polo field and in 1963, again playing polo, he suffered a gash to his left arm which needed three stitches.

He was X-rayed in 1964 after a fall from his polo pony when he pulled a ligament in his left shoulder.

Prince Philip also developed synovitis, a rheumatoid condition of the tendon in the hand, after a polo fall.

Accidental mishaps sometimes left the Duke looking the worse for wear.

In 2005, Prince Philip was seen sporting dark glasses and a badly-bruised left eye after slipping in the bath and catching the side of his eye with his thumb.

In May 2006, the Duke pulled out of a royal engagement after suffering from a trapped nerve in his neck.

After a weekend recovering, Prince Philip attended the Chelsea Flower Show, appearing none the worse for wear.

A chest infection laid him low in April 2008 for a number of days and he was eventually admitted to hospital for treatment.

But even with the respiratory problem, he walked into hospital and walked out three days later and went on to make a full recovery.

In August 2008, Buckingham Palace took the unusual step of speaking out to deny a report that the Duke had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The newspaper involved later apologized, saying it accepted the story was untrue.

In January 2009, 87-year-old Prince Philip missed a string of engagements with a bad back after pulling a muscle while carriage driving.

Soon after, it emerged that the Queen had cancelled a state visit due to take place in spring 2009.

Buckingham Palace insisted this was due to “other commitments”, not the Queen’s age nor the Duke’s health.

In June 2010, the Duke had minor surgery on his left hand just before his 89th birthday to cure carpal tunnel syndrome – a common condition that causes pain, numbness and a burning sensation in the hand and fingers.

The hand operation forced Prince Philip to cancel an official trip with the Queen to Crewe.

The first public acknowledgement of his advancing years came as he was preparing to turn 90.

The Palace announced that Prince Philip planned to step down as president or patron of more than a dozen organizations.


An A-list concert, which will be held in front of Buckingham Palace later today, will mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Sir Elton John are among the artists, and Madness will perform on the roof.

The audience will comprise of people who got tickets in a public ballot and those from charities with royal links.

At the end of the show, Queen Elizabeth II will light one of the last of around 4,500 beacons across the globe – in celebration of her 60-year reign.

In the afternoon, prior to the Jubilee concert, 10,000 ballot winners and VIPs will have a picnic in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

The concert follows Sunday’s spectacular River Thames pageant which attracted hundreds of thousands of rain-soaked people to watch the flotilla of 1,000 vessels.

Queen Elizabeth II travelled in a barge alongside senior members of the Royal Family as street parties were held around the country.

Buckingham Palace said the Royal Family were “touched” at the turnout, despite the weather.

The A-list concert, which starts at 19:30 BST (18:30 GMT) and will be broadcast by the BBC, also includes Robbie Williams, Ed Sheeran, JLS, Kylie Minogue, Sir Tom Jones, Jessie J, Dame Shirley Bassey and Annie Lennox.

And it will feature a special song – sung by 200 people from around the Commonwealth – co-written for the occasion by Gary Barlow and Lord Lloyd Webber.

An A-list concert, which will be held in front of Buckingham Palace later today, will mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

An A-list concert, which will be held in front of Buckingham Palace later today, will mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Motown legend Stevie Wonder has said: “It’s an honour to celebrate The Queen. It’s an honour to celebrate Great Britain. The time is overdue that I meet Her Majesty.”

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will join the Queen at the concert.

Pop veterans Madness will play their hit Our House on the roof of Buckingham Palace – echoing Queen guitarist Brian May’s performance of the National Anthem in 2002 for the Golden Jubilee.

After the musical tribute, the Queen will greet the crowds and set the national beacon ablaze.

At 22:30 BST (21:30 GMT), Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to place a crystal glass diamond into a special pod, triggering the lighting of the last beacon in The Mall.

Beacons will be lit throughout the evening in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, the Commonwealth and other overseas territories.

Bruno Peek, pageantmaster of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee beacons, said: “We set out to have 2,012 beacons, which would have been the most ever for this type of occasion.

“To have reached double that figure reflects the national and worldwide respect and affection for the Queen and the desire to celebrate her 60-year reign.”

The network of beacons across the UK will be placed on historic landmarks, hill-top vantage points and famous mountains.

Beacons will also be placed on the battlements of the Tower of London, and at St James’s Palace, Lambeth Palace, Windsor Castle, Sandringham, Balmoral and Holyroodhouse.

Sixty will be lit in sequence on Hadrian’s Wall – one for each year of the Monarch’s reign.

And the highest peaks of the UK’s four nations will be lit up by teams from four charities.

Help for Heroes will conquer Ben Nevis in Scotland, Walking With The Wounded will climb Snowdon in Wales, Cancer Research UK will scale England’s Scafell Pike and in Northern Ireland, Field of Life will go up Slieve Donard in County Down.

The hotel in Kenya where the Queen was told in 1952 of her father George VI’s death – which meant she would become the monarch – will also light a beacon.

The first of the beacons will be lit on the south Pacific island of Tonga, while Tristan da Cunha, a British territory in the South Atlantic, is the location for the most remote lighting.

Like the conclusion of the Thames pageant, the evening will end with a firework display.

Diamond Jubilee beacons:

• About 4,500 beacons will be lit in the UK, Commonwealth and overseas territories

• Beacons in the UK and British dependencies will be lit in stages between 22:00 and 22:30 BST

• The Queen will light the National Beacon near Buckingham Palace at 22:30 BST

• Overseas beacons will be lit at 22:00 local time in countries including Canada, Australia and Kenya

• Two types of Beacons are used: Bonfires and the church tower beacon fuelled by bottled gas

• Beacons were lit on Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and for 1977’s Silver Jubilee


LONDON — Under the rainy skies of London, the crowds acclaim for  the monarch marking 60 years on the throne, a flotilla of 1,000 boats set off down the Thames on Sunday in an extravagant royal pageant. Thousands of Londoners are lining the Thames in London for the Jubilee river pageant despite the dank weather, as street parties get under way across the nation.

The spectacle, along a seven-mile stretch, will end six hours later when the last boat passes Tower Bridge.

The Thames barrier is being lowered to slow the river’s flow. Some 20,000 people are expected to be in the boats of the flotilla, which will travel at 4 knots (4.6 miles) an hour.

Despite cool, drizzly weather, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to line the riverbanks between Hammersmith and Tower Bridge in London, feting the British monarch whose longevity has given her the status of the nation’s favorite grandmother.

The flotilla, the largest such pageant for 350 years, will range from rowing boats to military boats, including a barge carrying the Queen and other members of her family. The queen and members of her family will lead the river pageant aboard a flower-bedecked royal barge, accompanied by skiffs, barges, narrowboats, motor launches, row boats and sailing vessels from around the world.

Other vessels will include a contingent of Dunkirk “little ships” and tall ships such the Southampton-based Tenacious, which will be sailed by a mixed crew of able-bodied and disabled people.

More than 20 vessels from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) are being drafted in for the occasion to help with safety on the river. Another vessel will take on a ceremonial role during the pageant in celebration of the 60,000 lives saved by the RNLI during the Queen’s reign.

The 86-year-old queen, accompanied by her 90-year-old consort Prince Philip and an array of family members, was scheduled to spend two hours moving slowly down the river aboard a lavishly adapted royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, that was emblazoned for the occasion with a coat of 10,000 cut flowers.

Only once before in the 1,000-year history of the British monarchy had any reigning sovereign lived long enough to mark a diamond jubilee, and that was in 1897, when Queen Elizabeth’s great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, then aged 78, achieved the landmark.

“We in Britain are experts at not letting the weather spoil our fun,” said Adrian Evans, pageant master for Sunday’s flotilla. “The London Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ as they travel down the river, and the crowd can sing along with them.”

Hundreds of people ignored the persistent rain and camped out overnight to secure prime riverside spots. Crowds swelled into the thousands Sunday, with revelers in hats, flags, leggings and rain ponchos adorned with the Union flag mixing with burger and cotton candy vendors along the 7-mile (11-kilometer) route.

“It would have been wonderful if it had been sunny like last Sunday but we have come prepared,” said 57-year-old Christine Steele. “We have got blankets, brollies (umbrellas), flags and bunting. We even got our glittery Union Jack hats and wigs, and the Champagne is on ice.”

Not everyone in Britain is celebrating. The anti-monarchist group Republic held a riverbank protest Sunday to oppose the wave of jubilee-mania.

“People are sick and tired of being told they must celebrate 60 years of one very privileged, very remote and very uninspiring head of state,” said the group’s chief executive, Graham Smith. “The hereditary system is offensive to all the democratic values this country has fought for in the past.”

Jubilee celebrations kicked off Saturday with a royal day at the races, as the queen watched a horse with the courtly name of Camelot win the Epsom Derby.



Celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in London with your neighbors by hosting a Big Jubilee Lunch.

Big Jubilee Lunch in London




The Big Lunch is an annual nationwide event which encourages people across the UK to enjoy lunch with their neighbors.

This year The Big Lunch falls on the same weekend as The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, which is a four-day Bank Holiday weekend. So dust off the bunting and Union Jack flags from the Royal Wedding and enjoy a lunch fit for The Queen!

All you have to do is gather together your neighbors and choose what kind of an event you want – from a small gathering raising money for charity to a full-blown street party with music and a barbeque.

How to Organize a Big Jubilee Lunch


Every year since it began in 2009, The Big Lunch has been enjoyed by more than a million people, and this year’s special Big Jubilee Lunch is likely to attract even more participants.

If you want to get involved and set up your own local event, follow the “10 Steps to Organizing a Big Lunch Guide” on the Big Lunch website.

You can also request a Big Jubilee Lunch pack, containing advice as well as posters, leaflets and recipes.


The Central Weekend 2 – 5 June 2012




The Central Weekend to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee takes place from Saturday 2 June to Tuesday 5 June 2012, with celebratory activities throughout the UK and across the Commonwealth

If you are considering visiting central London to join in with the celebrations, you may find it useful to visit the Transport for London website

Alternatively, you may wish to consider watching events on one of the many BBC Big Screens around the UK.

For information about the Official Diamond Jubilee Souvenir Programme click here.

Here is our run-down  of events over the Diamond Jubilee weekend, including approximate timings:

Saturday 2 June, 2012


The Queen will attend the Epsom Derby.

Sunday 3 June, 2012


The Big Jubilee Lunch: Building on the already popular Big Lunch initiative, people will be encouraged to share lunch with neighbours and friends as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. This may take the form of a traditional street party or a picnic lunch in small or larger groups. This event is being organised by the Big Lunch. Find out more.

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant: This event will take place on the Thames and consist of up to 1,000 boats assembled from across the UK, the Commonwealth and around the world. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will travel in the Royal Barge which will form the centrepiece of the flotilla. Find out more

Approximate timings are as follows:

14:30BST – The Queen embarks the Royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, near Albert Bridge  

16:15BST  – The Royal Barge comes alongside HMS President (Royal Naval Reserve Unit), near Tower Bridge  

Monday 4 June, 2012


BBC Concert at Buckingham Palace: There will be a televised Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace with tickets being available to UK residents by public ballot. The musical programme for the concert is still being planned and is expected to feature British and Commonwealth musicians. Details on how to apply for the concert will be available in due course. This event is being organised by the BBC. Find out more

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons: A network of 2,012 Beacons will be lit by communities and individuals throughout the United Kingdom, as well as the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Commonwealth. As in 2002, The Queen will light the National Beacon. Find out more

Approximate timings are as follows:

19:30BST  – Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace begins

After 22:30BST – The Queen lights the National Beacon outside Buckingham Palace 


Tuesday 5 June, 2012


On Tuesday 5 June, the Diamond Jubilee weekend will culminate with a day of celebrations in central London, including a service at St Paul’s Cathedral followed by two receptions, a lunch at Westminster Hall, a Carriage Procession to Buckingham Palace and finally a Balcony appearance, Flypast, and Feu de Joie. Find out more.

Download the Order of Service

Approximate timings are as follows:

10:15BST – The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace by car

10:30-11.30BST – Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s  

12.30BST – The Queen travels by car from Mansion House to the Palace of Westminster

14:20BST – Carriage Procession from Westminster Hall to Buckingham Palace commences

Approximately 15:25BST – Royal Family appear on the Balcony at Buckingham Palace 



Top 10 Art Exhibitions in London




Don’t miss out on the best London exhibitions! Catch one of these great London exhibitions as chosen by our editorial team.


Damien Hirst at Tate Modern



A shark suspended in formaldehyde, a bisected cow and calf… Damien Hirst is well-known for his imaginative and sometimes shocking works. This April, Tate Modern unveils the first substantial survey of Damien Hirst’s work ever held in the UK, featuring more than 70 iconic pieces. Until 9 Sep


Picasso and Modern British Art at Tate Britain


The influence of Picasso on British art and artists has rarely been recognized – until now, thanks to Tate Britain’s new exhibition. Picasso and Modern British Art explore the Spanish artist’s reputation in Britain, and looks at how Picasso’s work affected British modernism and inspired British artists. Until 15 Jul


British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age


In this Olympic year the Victoria & Albert Museum celebrates the best of British art and design since London last held the Olympic Games, in 1948. The exhibition brings together more than 300 objects from the fields of fashion, ceramics, graphics, photography, sculpture, product design, architecture, furniture and fine art. Until 12 Aug


Yayoi Kusama



One of Japan’s best-known living artists, Yayoi Kusama’s work spans more than six decades. Kusama is known for her immersive artworks and at this Tate Modern exhibition you can wander through a series of rooms covered in hallucinatory polka dots, mirrors and more. Until 5 Jun

Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claude



Turner’s daring painting technique dazzled audiences at the beginning of the 19th century and influenced future generations of artists. This National Gallery exhibition examines how Turner was inspired by Claude’s portrayal of light and landscape, and features pictures by Turner and Claude hung side-by-side. Until 5 Jun


Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames at the National Maritime Museum


As well as being The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, 2012 sees the 75th birthday of the National Maritime Museum. Royal River celebrates them both by exploring the relationship between British monarchs and the River Thames throughout history. Royal River is curated by one of Britain’s leading historians, David Starkey. Until 9 Sep


Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist at the Queen’s Gallery


Don’t miss the largest-ever exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical drawings at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. Da Vinci produced amazingly accurate anatomical drawings. His research included working in hospitals and medicals schools, where he dissected human and animal material. Until 7 Oct


Christian Louboutin at the Design Museum


This Design Museum offers a unique retrospective of famous shoe designer Christian Louboutin’s work and a preview of his next collection. Using items from Christian Louboutin’s personal archive the exhibition showcases his designs, methods and inspirations over the past 20 years. Until 9 Jul


The Queen: Art and Image at the National Portrait Gallery


To celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the National Portrait Gallery is bringing together 60 images from The Queen’s 60-year reign. See how The Queen has been portrayed through painting, photography and press images by renowned artists and photographers. Until 21 Oct


Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition


Don’t miss the highly popular summer exhibition at the Royal Academy, now in its 244th year. Displaying some of the best of contemporary art, the exhibition features more than 1,200 works by both new and distinguished artists, many of which are available to purchase. 4 Jun-12 Aug




A. Celebrations

What is Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee?
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee marks 60 years since her accession in 1952. Royal Jubilees celebrate significant periods in monarchs’ reigns and national life. In 2012, The Queen will become only the second UK monarch to mark 60 years on the throne. Celebrations were previously held for Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 and Golden Jubilee in 2002.



When exactly is The Queen marking her Diamond Jubilee?

While Accession Day is on 6 February, celebrations will occur throughout 2012, with a special extended bank holiday central weekend in the United Kingdom on 2-5 June.

What events will take place over this bank holiday central weekend?
On Saturday 2 June, The Queen will attend the Epsom Derby. On Sunday 3 June the Big Jubilee Lunch and the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant will take place. On Monday 4 June a concert will be held at Buckingham Palace and a network of beacons will be lit throughout the UK and the Commonwealth. On Tuesday 5 June a Service of Thanksgiving will be held at St. Paul’s Cathedral, which will be followed by a formal carriage Procession.

Will there be events at other times during the year?
There will be many other events held locally and on a national scale. For example, in May 2012 a Diamond Jubilee Pageant will be held, as part of the Windsor Horse Show, involving equine displays and other acts from around the world.

For more information and news on Jubilee events and activities, please visit www.direct.gov.uk/diamondjubilee or see national and local media as further details are announced.

I would like to organise an event in my local area. Whom do I contact?
People should make contact with the appropriate organisations or representatives – for example, one of the organisations involved with the central weekend, Lord Lieutenancies and local authorities.

Will Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee be marked in other Realm countries?
Her Majesty is Queen in 15 Commonwealth Realms in addition to the United Kingdom. The British Monarchy and UK Government websites will carry details only for those events and celebrations taking place in the United Kingdom. More details will be available elsewhere about activities taking place in Her Majesty’s other Realms.


B. Central Jubilee Weekend Events

Big Jubilee Lunch
I would like to organise a street party or Big Jubilee Lunch. Who should I contact for more information?
The Big Jubilee Lunch is being organised by the Big Lunch, which is part of the Eden Project. It will be held on Sunday 3 June 2012. For more information please see www.thebiglunch.com or contact [email protected]

Thames Pageant
From where can I watch the Pageant?
Details about where spectators can view the Pageant will be announced by the organisers in due course. Please see http://www.thamesdiamondjubileepageant.org/ for more details.

Can I register a vessel to take part?
Boat registrations closed on 31 October 2011. Please see http://www.thamesdiamondjubileepageant.org/ for more details.

Can I get tickets to be on a boat sailing in the flotilla?
Further details about the Pageant will be announced on the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant website in due course.

Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace
When is the concert?
The Queen is hosting a concert organised by the BBC at Buckingham Palace on Monday 4 June.

Can I apply for tickets?
Details of how to apply for an invitation to the Concert will be announced in early 2012. Successful applicants, chosen by ballot, will be notified in writing.

Can I perform during the concert?
The content of the concert will be decided by the BBC.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons
Can I light a Beacon?
Details of how to take part in Beacon lighting ceremonies are available on www.diamondjubileebeacons.co.uk

When will the Beacons be lit?
The Queen will light the National Beacon on Monday 4 June. Further details about the lighting of Beacons will be announced by Diamond Jubilee Beacons Ltd.

Ceremonial Procession
Will there be a ceremonial procession to or from the Service of Thanksgiving, and if so, from where can I watch it?
There will be a formal carriage procession but details of the routes to and from the Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral will be announced closer to the time and published on the Monarchy website.

C. Commemorative Articles

Can I produce Diamond Jubilee Souvenirs?
The Lord Chamberlain’s Office at Buckingham Palace produces definitive guidelines on the use of the Royal Arms, Royal Devices, Emblems and Titles and of photographs, portraits, engravings, effigies and busts of The Queen and Members of the Royal Family.

Special guidelines for the use of protected Royal Devices on souvenirs have been produced for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and can be found here – http://www.royal.gov.uk/pdf/DJ%20Emblem%20Guidelines/Souvenir%20Guidelines%20DJ%202012.pdf

Where can I find the Official Diamond Jubilee Emblem?
The Official Diamond Jubilee Emblem is based on an illustration by 10 year-old Katherine Dewar who won a BBC Blue Peter competition. It is available to download, free of charge from the Monarchy website and comes in a number of electronic formats; in English and in Welsh; and in colour, black and white and whiteout.

Where can I use the Emblem?
The emblem is available for use for activities associated with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations including community and national events, publications, retail and merchandising.

Unofficial Publications
As you would expect, the Royal Household takes seriously any reports of individuals or organisations using the Jubilee to raise money in an inappropriate or unauthorised manner. If you are invited to donate money to “official publications”, please write to The Queen’s Assistant Private Secretary, at Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA.

D. Use of The Queen’s title, name and emblems

Can I name something after The Queen or the Diamond Jubilee?
As is customary in Jubilee years, the Deputy Prime Minister and the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales have been given discretion to sanction the use of The Queen’s title and name. A blanket approval is in place for the use of “Diamond Jubilee” and “Jubilee” for community events and buildings (subject to the proviso that building works start or finish in 2012, and events take place in 2012). Permission need not be sought for the use of the titles “Diamond Jubilee” and “Jubilee” in these circumstances.

Applications to use “The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee”, “Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee” and “Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee” must be submitted in writing. Applications in respect of England, Northern Ireland or any of the Crown Dependencies – Parliament and Constitution Division of the Cabinet Office; applications in respect of Scotland or Wales where responsibility for the subject of the application remains with the UK Government – to the Scotland Office and Wales Office respectively.

Can I use an image of the Crown or The Queen’s Cypher (EIIR) for my Jubilee event/project?
Applications to use an image of the Crown, The Queen’s Cypher (EIIR) or Her Majesty’s Coat of Arms must be submitted to the Constitutional and Policy team in the Parliament and Constitution Division of the Cabinet Office.

E. Invitations to Visit

Will The Queen or other Members of the Royal Family be visiting my local area in 2012?
The Queen’s Programme and details of where other Members of the Royal Family will visit will be announced in 2012. Please continue to check the Monarchy website for updates.

I would like to invite The Queen to my Diamond Jubilee event. How do I do this?
The Queen will be extraordinarily busy during her Diamond Jubilee and it will not be possible for her to accept all of the many invitations she will receive. However, if you wish to invite Her Majesty to an event please write to The Queen’s Diary Secretary at Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA.

F. Other

I would like to compose a piece of music for The Queen for her Diamond Jubilee. Can I perform or dedicate it to Her Majesty?
We have been overwhelmed by generous offers to compose or perform pieces of music in celebration of Her Majesty’s Jubilee next year and while there would of course be no objection to musical events of this nature taking place, it will not be possible to associate The Queen directly with these events.

How do I find out more information about Diamond Jubilee projects and events between now and next year?
For those events listed above and taking place over the Jubilee central weekend, please see their individual websites for more details as they are announced. Alternatively, the Government DirectGov website will be updated with further news and announcements as they occur.

Early life

Her Majesty the Queen was born on 21 April 1926 in London, the first child of Prince Albert, The Duke of York, and his wife, formerly Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

Third in line to the throne, it seemed unlikely that Princess Elizabeth would be Queen. However, shortly after the death of George V, the new King – her uncle Edward VIII – dramatically abdicated so he could marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. Princess Elizabeth’s father then became King George VI and she became heir to the throne.

Princess Elizabeth and her younger sister Princess Margaret were educated at home. During the Blitz in 1940, they were moved to Windsor Castle and stayed there for most of the Second World War. In 1945, Princess Elizabeth joined the war effort, training as a driver in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service (WATS).



Princess, wife, mother

In November 1947, she married a distant cousin, Philip Mountbatten, who was then created His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The wedding – which took place during the austere post-War years – was described by Winston Churchill as a ‘flash of colour’. The Princess used ration coupons to buy the material for her dress.

The couple have four children. Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, is the eldest and next in line to throne. Both he and Princess Anne, The Princess Royal were born before their mother became Queen. Prince Andrew, The Duke of York and Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex are the only two children to be born to a reigning monarch since Queen Victoria.

Accession and coronation

George VI died on 6 February 1952 while Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were touring Kenya. She returned home immediately and acceded to the throne. After months of preparation, Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. For the first time, the ceremony and the huge public celebrations were broadcast by TV across the UK, the Commonwealth and the rest of the world.

A young and glamorous Queen

On her accession, the Queen immediately began her political duties which included opening Parliament and receiving her prime ministers. Throughout the 1950s, the Queen and Prince Philip cut young and glamorous figures as they extensively toured the UK and the Commonwealth.

During the 1960s, the Queen made historic visits to West Berlin at the height of the Cold War, and welcomed Emperor Hirohito of Japan on a state visit to Britain. Against a backdrop of political and social unrest, she celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 1977. It was a huge success and tens of thousands of street parties were thrown by the public across the country.

The 1980s onwards

Five years later, the UK was at war over the Falkland Islands during which Prince Andrew served with the Royal Navy as a helicopter pilot. The 1980s also saw the birth of her first grandchildren, Peter and Zara Phillips.

Disaster struck in 1992 when a devastating fire broke out in Windsor Castle. The same year the respective marriages of Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne disintegrated. The Queen deemed this her ‘annus horribilis’. Tragedy was to follow in 1997, when Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car accident.

And 2002 was another year of personal sadness for the Queen, as both her sister Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother died, casting a shadow over the Golden Jubilee celebrations a few months later.

The Diamond Queen

For the last 60 years, during a period of great change in Britain, the Queen has continued to carry out her political duties as head of state, her role as head of the Commonwealth, the ceremonial responsibilities of the sovereign, and a large annual programme of visits in the UK as well as many foreign tours.

The Queen has also made numerous reforms to the monarchy during her reign. In 1992, she offered to start paying income and capital gains tax. She has opened her official residencies to the public – including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle – in order to finance their maintenance.

She supported ending the rule of male primogeniture, which now means the eldest child can succeed to the throne, regardless of gender. She also supported lifting the ban on anyone in the line of succession marrying a Catholic.

Her reign has heralded the introduction of less formal engagements and visits, and the introduction of the ‘walkabout’ – the meeting and greeting of large numbers of the public.

In 2002, the Queen celebrated 50 years on the throne; in 2006, her 80th birthday; and in 2012, her Diamond Jubilee. The Jubilee will be marked by celebrations across the UK throughout the year.


Official website of The Diamond Jubilee: http://www.thediamondjubilee.org/

The King of Bahrain and Swaziland’s King Mswati III are among controversial monarchs expected at a Windsor Castle lunch being hosted by the Queen Elizabeth II to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.

Critics accuse Bahrain of human rights abuses and say Swazi king Mswati lives in luxury while his people go hungry.

Campaigner Peter Tatchell criticized the Queen for inviting “royal tyrants to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee”.

The Foreign Office said it was having “a full and frank discussion on a range of issues” with Bahrain’s government.

Buckingham Palace said it would not comment on the lunch.

It will be followed by an evening banquet, hosted by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Not all the monarchs will be at both events.

Peter Tatchell said the invitations were “a shocking misjudgement” that showed the Queen was “out of touch with the humanitarian values of most British people”.

“Inviting blood-stained despots brings shame to our monarchy and tarnishes the Diamond Jubilee celebrations,” he said.

“It is a kick in the teeth to pro-democracy campaigners and political prisoners in these totalitarian royal regimes.”

The King of Bahrain and Swaziland's King Mswati III are among controversial monarchs expected at a Windsor Castle lunch being hosted by the Queen Elizabeth II to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee

The King of Bahrain and Swaziland's King Mswati III are among controversial monarchs expected at a Windsor Castle lunch being hosted by the Queen Elizabeth II to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee

Bahrain officials said King Hamad al-Khalifa – whose country is in a state of civil unrest following crackdowns on protests last year – was expected to attend.

Last month, Bahrain Grand Prix organizers were urged to cancel the race amid public unrest in the country and accusations of human rights abuses.

And in April 2011, Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa pulled out of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding amid controversy over human rights.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Britain was a “long-standing friend and ally of Bahrain”.

He added: “On human rights we support the reforms already under way in Bahrain and we want to help promote that reform.

“We have consistently encouraged the Bahraini government to take further urgent steps to implement in full the recommendations of the Independent Commission of Inquiry as His Majesty the King has committed to doing.

“This includes bringing to account those individuals responsible for human rights abuses.”

On Thursday, former Foreign Office Minister Denis MacShane criticized Bahrain for doing “such terrible things to its own people since the Arab awakening a year ago”.

He said Arab nations “must let their citizens vote in free elections and let them speak without fear of arrest, torture or death”.

“The Foreign Office should protect the British Queen rather than expose her to having to dine with a despot.”

Anti-monarchist campaign group Republic believes the Queen and her aides have made a “catastrophic error of judgement” in inviting the Bahrani King.

Group chief executive Graham Smith said the Queen “has sent a very strong signal that the British royal family’s number one priority is other royals, even if they… oppress their own people”.

He added: “The Queen owes a personal apology to all those fighting for freedom in those countries – and to the families of those who have died doing so.”

On Wednesday, meanwhile, a group of UK-based Swazis protested outside the Savoy hotel, in London, where King Mswati – who is widely accused of profligate spending – is thought to be staying, with a delegation of 30 officials.

“The money he is using to feed these people could go a long way back home,” said Flora Dlamini from the Swaziland Vigil group.

King Mswati is rated by Forbes magazine as the world’s 15th richest monarch with a personal fortune of $100 million – while many of his 1.2 million subjects live in poverty.

Democracy campaigners also want Africa’s last absolute monarch to allow political parties and elections.

“If he is allowed to come, the British government is supporting his dictatorship,” Flora Dlamini said.

Saudi and Kuwaiti royals are also attending the banquet.

Amnesty international has recently highlighted repression in Saudi Arabia, as the authorities there crack down on protesters and reformists.

And Human Rights Watch has criticized Kuwait for the suspension of a daily newspaper and the conviction of its editor for incitement.

Meanwhile, Queen Sofia of Spain will not be attending because of a dispute over fishing rights off Gibraltar, a UK territory that Spain also claims.



Sacha Baron Cohen already caused a stir promoting his new film The Dictator when he tipped Kim Jong-Il’s “ashes” over Ryan Seacrest at the Oscars in February.

Now, the London-born comedian has controversially attacked Queen Elizabeth II in a new trailer for The Dictator made especially for the UK.

Sacha Baron Cohen wished Her Majesty well for her upcoming “blood diamond” jubilee and said he hoped it was a smooth transition when Prince Charles kills her and takes the throne.

The hyped-up film tells the story of a fictional leader, General Aladeen, who is thought to be based of Kim Jong-Il and Saddam Hussein, of the fictional Republic of Wadiya.

In an intro to the latest trailer, the bearded character, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, is seen sitting on a chair surrounded by gun-wielding plebs.

He addresses the camera, saying: “I would like to congratulate your dictatoress Elizabeth on her blood diamond jubilee and I hope it is a smooth transition when her son Charles eventually kills her and seizes power.”

Sacha Baron Cohen wished Her Majesty well for her upcoming “blood diamond” jubilee and said he hoped it was a smooth transition when Prince Charles kills her and takes the throne

Sacha Baron Cohen wished Her Majesty well for her upcoming “blood diamond” jubilee and said he hoped it was a smooth transition when Prince Charles kills her and takes the throne

A news report is then shown that says tensions are rising between the world community and the “rogue North African Wadiya” intensified when United Nations weapons inspectors were refused access to the country by General Aladeen.

It cuts to a clip of U.S. president, Barack Obama, saying he will “take no options off the table”.

The report than delves into the background of Aladeen and he is seen as a baby with a full beard.

The voiceover says he did not know his mother who died in childbirth – but a clip is shown of her being smothered with a pillow.

The only son of dictator, Omar Aladeen, he is said to have gained power at the age of seven.

He apparently changed more than 300 words to “Aladeen” including the words negative and positive, causing mass confusion.

A clip is shown of a man in a doctor’s surgery being asked if he wants the “Aladeen news or the Aladeen news” and he is told he is “HIV Aladeen”.

The dictator even launched his own Olympic games and is seen winning a sprint race by shooting his opponents.

He won 14 gold medals at the games.

Sacha Baron Cohen caused chaos at the Oscars in February when he arrived dressed as Aladeen and emptied an urn of “ashes” over Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet.

He told the E! presenter: “These are the ashes of my good friend Kim Jong-Il and it was his dream to come to the Oscars and be scattered on the red carpet and on Halle Berry’s chest.”

On Monday, Sacha Baron Cohen attended CinemaCon in Las Vegas dressed as the character.

As he approached the stage, he jokingly asked a member of the crowd: “How much for your daughter?”

Then, after referring to CinemaCon as “Cinnabon,” Sacha Baron Cohen he spoke of his love of movies such as When Harry Killed Sally, 14-Year-Old Virgin and the “family comedy” Planet of the Rapes.

He also took a swipe at DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg and recently departed Walt Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross.

On Jeffrey Katzenberg, who had just finished his presentation promoting Madagascar 3 and Rise of the Guardians, Sacha Baron Cohen said: “I thought I was the only dictator speaking tonight. So imagine my surprise when I found out that Jeffrey Katzenberg was speaking. He rules with an iron fist.”

Sacha Baron Cohen then threatened the exhibitors to put The Dictator in their theaters, or he would detonate bombs underneath their seats.

“Is that chewing gum underneath your seat? Certainly they are not plastic explosives. Trust me, there are bigger bombs than John Carter. Just shoot the executive behind that. Oh – wait, you did,” he said, referring to Rich Ross’ recent departure from Disney.

Sacha Baron Cohen urged the audience to see a screening of The Dictator later that evening, promising free Rolexes, blood diamonds, and young girls “or boys, if you are from DreamWorks”.

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