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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Queen Elizabeth Concludes Diamond Jubilee Celebration


Some small last-minute adjustments marked the absence of the Duke of Edinburgh from the Queen's side during the final day of the diamond jubilee celebrations.

At a service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral, the monarch cut a rather solitary figure as she processed alone behind the lord mayor of London who, in accordance with tradition, carried the pearl sword symbolic of the sovereign's authority.

The red velvet cushioned seat, which Prince Philip has sat in for so many services during his wife's long reign, was occupied instead by the Prince of Wales. His seat in the royal car, which bore the Queen to the morning service, was taken by her lady-in-waiting, Diana Marion, the Lady Farnham.

The only reference in the cathedral to his sudden indisposition, as he underwent treatment for a bladder infection at King Edward VII hospital in central London, was a hasty addendum to the sermon delivered by the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

To the congregation, which included the prime minister, David Cameron, Williams praised the Queen's dedication. "She has made her public happy and all the signs are that she is herself happy, fulfilled and at home at these encounters," he said.

"The same, of course, can manifestly be said of Prince Philip, and our prayers and thoughts are very much with him this morning."

The duke was admitted to hospital just hours ahead of the BBC jubilee concert on Monday night, and the day after taking part in the river pageant.

In his thanksgiving sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said Queen Elizabeth had shown "a quality of joy in the happiness of others" during her 60 years on the throne.

The royal family will wrap up the Diamond Jubilee celebration with a balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace, followed by a rare television speech to the nation. 

Queen Elizabeth lit a symbolic torch Monday night during a moving ceremony in which Prince Charles paid a personal tribute to his mother, and led the crowd in cheers to her and his ailing father. 

The crowd sang the British anthem "God Save the Queen" before Elizabeth lit the beacon and fireworks exploded over Buckingham Palace.

The London beacon was the last of 4,200 torches and bonfires lit all day Monday across Britain and the Commonwealth, starting with New Zealand and Tonga.

Elizabeth succeeded her father, King George, after his death in 1952 and was coronated the following year.

She was crowned queen of seven Commonwealth countries -- the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka.

Along with Britain, the monarch is the head of state of 16 other nations, known as realms. Her role is purely ceremonial. She is also head of the Commonwealth, an organization that rose from the British empire. Most of its 53 member countries are former colonies.

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