Diamond Jubilee Schedule of Events

The Central Weekend of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 2012 takes place over the four-day bank holiday weekend from Saturday 2nd June to Tuesday 5th June.

The U.K., the Commonwealth and much of the world celebrate the 60th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. From horse racing (a passion of the Queen) and concerts to neighbourhood street parties and barbecues, the four-day weekend is packed. Coverage of the key events is set to be beamed around the world by the BBC and its partners, in many cases live.

Saturday 2nd June

The weekend kicks off with the Epsom Derby. The Queen will be in attendance (with 200,000 of her closest friends), as she is every year, for what is the most prestigious horseracing event in England. The Epsom Derby is a Thoroughbred flat race (no jumps) and the only one of the five Classics that the Queen has yet to win as a horse owner.

Sunday 3rd June

The Big Jubilee Lunch marks the fourth year for the Big Lunch event. In 2011, more than 2 million people across the U.K. joined in this celebration began by the Eden Project to encourage people to take the time to sit down for lunch with their neighbours to foster bonds of community and friendship. Street parties and picnics (and the odd pub brawl) held in neighbourhoods, town halls, parks and community centres across the country will give everyone a way to join in the party.

Beginning at 14:00 BST, London witnesses one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the Thames when more than 1,000 vessels take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Crowds will line the banks of the river as boats of every size and shape make their way from Battersea Bridge to Tower Bridge. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will travel on the Royal Barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, at the centre of the festivities. Leading the flotilla will be a boat featuring eight newly created church bells whose chimes will be answered by churches along the route.

London Mayor Boris Johnson recently described the Thames event as “…a kind of Dunkirk, except more successful and more cheerful,” a comparison that was likely better left unmade.

Monday 4th June

Another lunch, yes, but the Diamond Jubilee Picnic is a bit different than the previous day’s lunches. This one is being thrown by the Queen for more than 10,000 guests on the Buckingham Palace grounds (many of whom won tickets by a public ballot, or lottery). The fare will be prepared by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal and feature some of the best of British produce. Highlights in each hamper include Chilled British Country Garden Soup, Scottish smoked salmon, Diamond Jubilee Chicken (a take on the always popular Coronation Chicken), strawberry crumble, and a selection of British cheese.

The picnic leads into the 3-hour BBC Concert at Buckingham Palace, which takes place on a stage surrounding the Queen Victoria Memorial. Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Kylie Minogue, and Annie Lennox are among the performers scheduled to appear.

Following the concert, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons will be lit (starting at approximately 22:00 BST). In all, more than 4,000 beacons will be lit across the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man by communities, churches, and individuals. The chain of beacons is seen as a symbol of unity, and the Queen, herself, will light the national beacon outside of Buckingham Palace.

Tuesday 5th June

The final day of the Central Weekend feature a number of events on a smaller scale — relatively speaking. The day begins with a Service of National Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, followed by two receptions at the Mansion House and Guildhall. Next up is a lunch at Westminster Hall.

The events swing back towards the grand with the Carriage Procession following lunch. Three carriages will transport the Queen and Duke of Edinburg, The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince Harry.

Hundreds of thousands of people will line the route as the procession departs Westminster Hall for Buckingham Palace travelling via Whitehall and the Mall. Military bands and 60-gun salute will add additional pomp along the route. The Royal Family will then appear on the balcony at Buckingham Palace at which time a RAF fly-past will take place. Then it’s off to bed to start dreaming about the next jubilee.

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