Britain’s four days of Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne conclude with a pageant through central London, and with tens of thousands of people expected to take part in nationwide street parties.
Singer Ed Sheeran and more than 100 “national treasures” ranging from former soccer player Gary Lineker to children’s TV puppet Basil Brush will join military bands, performers and dancers in the parade through the capital on Sunday.
The procession, which will follow a similar route the 96-year-old Queen took on her coronation day in 1953, aims to evoke the different decades of her reign.
For many gathering in central London under chilly grey skies, the initial conversation revolved around the weather.
Emma Woodhouse, a 21-year-old nanny from the eastern county of Norfolk had arrived on the grand boulevard running up to Buckingham Palace at 5.30am, clutching Union Jack shower caps just in case.
“We’re ready to be here, rain or shine,” she said.
There were also a series of “Big Jubilee Lunches” planned across Britain, with an estimated 16,000 street parties.
Some 600 such gatherings were being held across the globe including in Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, Japan and South Africa.
The Queen’s son and heir Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, attended a Jubilee Lunch at London’s Oval cricket ground.
Kate, the wife of Prince William, and their three young children were filmed baking cakes for a lunch in Wales.
The final day of festivities comes after Prince Charles, 73, paid a personal tribute to his mother at a glittering pop concert outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday night.
Saturday’s concert was among a number of Jubilee events that Elizabeth has missed because of “episodic mobility problems”, which have recently caused her to cancel engagements. She has been on the throne longer than any of her predecessors.
“You pledged to serve your whole life – you continue to deliver. That is why we are here,” Charles said in his message to the Queen, who was at her Windsor Castle residence outside London.
“You have met us and talked with us. You laugh and cry with us and, most importantly, you have been there for us, for these 70 years,” Charles added, referring to the Queen as “mummy”.
The events began with a pre-recorded comic sketch of the monarch having tea with Paddington Bear.
Elizabeth ascended the throne aged 25 on the death of her father, George VI, in 1952, inheriting dominion over a Britain still emerging from the ravages of World War II and with Winston Churchill as prime minister.
In total, there have been 14 UK prime ministers and 14 US presidents during her reign, the Berlin Wall rose and fell, Britain joined and left the European Union, and its once-mighty empire disintegrated, replaced by a Commonwealth of 54 nations.
Elizabeth was instrumental in creating the Commonwealth and many regard its success as her greatest achievement.
“You continue to make history,” said Charles.
He added that his father, Prince Philip, who died last year aged 99 after more than seven decades by the queen’s side, would have enjoyed the show.
The four days of celebrations began on Thursday with a military parade and a Royal Air Force flypast, and continued with a National Service of Thanksgiving on Friday.
Opinion polls suggest a majority of Britons believe the monarchy should remain and a recent Ipsos survey found nine out of 10 respondents supported the Queen.