By David Wilkes
Break out the bunting and grab a party hat – Diamond Jubilee fever is here.
Schoolchildren kicked off the celebrations with colourful parties yesterday.
Their festivities raised the curtain on a weekend when millions of Britons will shrug off the economic gloom and host thousands of events to mark six decades of Elizabeth II.
230 children from Hampden Gurney Primary School enjoy their Jubilee Street Party. From left: Lucia Requeso-Tabares, Carla Ivanoka and Gabi Walker, all aged five
Party! The street parties to celebrate the Jubilee will show off some cracking entertainment, whilst right, this racegoes gets into the swing of things at Epsom
Spotted: This schoolboy seems to have found a couple of famous faces
Look at me! The eyes have it for this 13-year-old at Brighton College
More than 9,500 official parties are being held over the long bank holiday weekend – double the number for last year’s Royal Wedding – and many more impromptu events are expected to push the final number well beyond 10,000.
The bad news is that the weather could put a dampener on the fun. As Her Majesty sails down the Thames at the head of a flotilla tomorrow, the chances are she will be doing most of her waving beneath an umbrella.
However things should improve in time for Monday’s concert at Buckingham Palace. And yesterday, the sun did its best to shine on the early events around the country.
In Durham, one lucky youngster even got to be ‘queen’ for the day. Seven-year-old Zoe Kimura, of St Godric’s RC primary school, took on the starring role in a re-enactment of the Coronation, arriving in a horse-drawn carriage. Durham Cathedral’s education officer Elizabeth Baker, who came up with the idea, said: ‘I knew the children would love the pomp and ceremony of events this weekend and the pop concert at the Palace, but I wanted them to understand the importance of the event too. The Queen is the second longest serving monarch after Queen Victoria.’
A very different – but no less patriotic – kind of Diamond Jubilee street party saw more than 100 refugees celebrate Her Majesty as their ‘Queen of Sanctuary’ as they thanked Britain for giving them a second chance in life.
In the spirit: The children of Wimbledon Park Primary School, London, enjoyed a Jubilee party in the playground today
All smiles: Sara Javaid, pictured left, gets in the mood for celebration, whilst right, a student doubles the Jubilee celebrations with the end of her Final exams
Those gathered in Brixton, south London, included refugees from all six decades of the Queen’s reign, all of whom had fled persecution and possible death.
Among them was Bob Vertes, who fled to England in 1957 as an eight-year-old with his Jewish parents to escape rampant anti-Semitism in post-revolutionary Hungary. He went on to be a maths teacher and Open University tutor.
Mr Vertes, 64, of Edgware, north London, added: ‘I love the diversity in this country which I think does not exist in as comfortable a way in other countries.
For me, one of the reasons for that is having a royal figurehead constantly there and the way the Royal Family has maintained its links with the former Empire and Commonwealth.’
On the Mall yesterday morning, dedicated ‘royal watcher’ Terry Hutt, 77, known even to the Royal Family as ‘the Union Jack man’, was already at the scene preparing for Tuesday’s formal celebrations.
Even the very youngest were preparing themselves to celebrate the Queen's landmark Diamond Jubilee
Determined to secure a plum spot for catching the Queen’s eye, he was there scouting out the landscape, dressed in his full regalia of Union Flag trainers, socks, shorts, vest, T-shirt, and two hats.
Crowds of at least one million are expected to throng the banks of the Thames tomorrow to watch the Royal Barge head the flotilla of 1,000 vessels.
Those who do intend to brave the elements would be wise to go prepared with an umbrella, a waterproof coat and perhaps a pair of Wellington boots.
Forecasters expect the day to be disrupted by more than an inch of rain in places with temperatures in the capital barely getting above a chilly 12C (54F). It is a far cry from a week ago when most of the country was bathed in Mediterranean-style sunshine and enjoying a record 28C (82F).
The weekend's events
MeteoGroup forecaster Tom Tobler said: ‘We’re going to see most of the weekend’s rain on Sunday.
‘Sadly, the warm weather of last week came just a little bit too early for the Queen.
‘The rain is coming in from the south-west and starting on Saturday afternoon before spreading eastwards. Overnight on Saturday and into Sunday there’s going to be a lot of heavy and persistent rain across central and southern England and Wales. It may even edge its way into northern England as well. It’s going to feel pretty miserable. In London on Sunday temperatures are expected to go no higher than 12C (54F).’
Mr Tobler said it would be cloudy and damp on Monday but should brighten up for the palace concert starring acts including Madness, Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul McCartney.
Stand to attention: HMS Daring's Ship's Company form the 'E II R' formation on the flight deck to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee
Respect: Servicemen and women honour the Queen in their own special Jubilee celebrations
Queen for a Day: Zoe Kimura, aged seven, from St Godrics School, Durham, was the star of a re-enactment of the Queen's coronation at Durham Cathedral featuring 388 children from local primary schools
Almost 400 children watched the 'coronation' of Zoe Kimura, aged seven, in the Durham Cathedral event, to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee
The miniature re-enactment at Durham Cathedral of the Queen's Coronation in 1956 even featured junior Archbishops
Larry the Downing Street cat gets into the spirit of the Jubilee weekend as he plays with bunting in the garden of Number 10
Larry seems to have tired himself out as he sits with his new toy on David Cameron's lawn
The usually sombre frontage of Number 10 Downing Street gets a cheerful Jubilee makeover complete with Union flag bunting
Royal fan Terry Hutt prepares to camp out in The Mall today to be sure of a prime spot for the Jubilee weekend
And Terry Hutt wasn't the only one on The Mall preparing for the mammoth weekend of festivities to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee
A fan at The Mall puts herself in the picture as she poses with a cutout of her Royal idol
The Palace looms in the background as workers clean the surface of The Mall in preparation for the celebrations
A lone street cleaner hoses down the coloured asphalt to make sure this weekend's visitors get the red carpet treatment
Oxford students celebrate the end of Final exams today, and combined the festivities to commemorate the Queen's landmark
As students put down their pens in Oxford, they also dusted off their flags to mark the start of an historic weekend
Racegoers Emily Stables (left) and Tara McMeikan show off Jubilee-inspired outfits during the Ladies' Day of the Investec Derby Festival at Epsom Racecourse, Surrey
Another racegoer at Epsom trots along in Union flag-themed heels
Seven-year-old Henry Tombs grins through his face paint during the street party at Coniston Community Centre, in Patchway, Bristol
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Jubilation: Britain goes Diamond Jubilee crazy as four-day party to celebrate Queen's 60 glorious years bursts into life
By David Wilkes