A million watch jubilee fly-past
LONDON, England -- Four days of massive celebrations marking Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee have culminated with a fly-past over Buckingham Palace.
The queen looked on from a balcony as 27 aircraft, including Concorde, Tornado fighters and a new Eurofighter combat plane flew over The Mall, where a million people were gathered.
Heathrow airport closed down for 10 minutes to allow the safe passage of the aircraft over London. Flying at an altitude of 1,500ft, the aircraft were in eight formations, each separated by two miles.
People who watched the aircraft fly over Buckingham Palace described the spectacle as the perfect finale to the queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Dave French, 24, from Newcastle said: "It was the perfect way to end a day like this. It was spectacular."
Earlier in the day the queen spoke of her "gratitude, respect and pride" in her country and her Golden Jubilee.
And she sent heartfelt thanks to the millions of people who have joined in the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of her reign.
She praised her own family, hailing the work of her son the Prince of Wales and "all he has achieved for this country." (Full text)
And she heard Prime Minister Tony Blair describe the "huge affection" in which the nation holds her.
They were both speaking as massive crowds converged on London for the second time in less than 24 hours to join in the Jubilee celebrations.
They witnessed a unique spectacle of pomp and pageantry as the queen travelled through the heart of London in the glittering State Gold Coach built in 1762. (Golden coach fit for a queen)
In a speech in the presence of Blair at the City of London's Guildhall, the queen spoke at length about the jubilee.
"Gratitude, respect and pride, these words sum up how I feel about the people of this country and the Commonwealth -- and what this Golden Jubilee means to me," she said.
She also praised her family, telling assembled guests: "I take this opportunity to mention the strength I draw from my own family."
In a light-hearted reference to the World Cup, the queen said: "I am more than conscious at the moment of the importance of football.
"Although this weekend comes about half way through my Jubilee year, as far as we are concerned it bears no relation to a rest at 'half-time.'"
Replying to her speech, Blair praised her commitment to the service of others.
Blair said: "It is not only the quantity of your reign we are celebrating today, it is the quality."
Earlier, during a service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral, the queen was told that her relationship with her people was gaining strength all the time.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said the weekend celebrations of 50 years on the throne showed that "unlike so much in the modern world, this relationship, the one between Sovereign and people, has grown stronger and deeper with the passage of time".
The procession to St Paul's was led by senior royals in three open, horse-drawn carriages.
Tuesday's celebrations also featured a massive carnival parade, with participants ranging from Hell's Angels bikers and colorfully dressed dancers to a 5,000-strong gospel choir.
Among the cheering crowds was Keith Sullivan, 38, a builder from Basildon, Essex, outside London, who was dressed in a union jack shirt. (Jubilee in quotes)
He told the Press Association: "I just wanted to be here to soak up the atmosphere, just to say that I was there. It's a fun day and she is someone we can be proud of."
The party ended with a balcony appearance from the queen to wave to the masses, and the spectacular fly-past.
Tuesday's events followed a pop concert at Buckingham Palace, when more than one million people converged to watch stars led by former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney. (Full story)
The concert was rounded off with a giant fireworks and light show with two-and-three-quarter tons of fireworks set off over the Palace.
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The British Monarchy
St Paul's Cathedral
Queen Elizabeth II
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