Queen expresses her 'gratitude, respect and pride'

 

THE UK: Cheered on by a million of her subjects, Queen Elizabeth II yesterday thanked Britain for its support during four days of golden jubilee celebrations culminating in a huge show of pageantry in London.

After a day which saw a full state procession followed by parades and pageants, the queen said she felt "gratitude, respect and pride" in her country and in the festivities marking the 50th anniversary of her reign.

In a speech at the City of London's Guildhall, she told a VIP audience: "It has been a pretty remarkable 50 years by any standards.

"There have been ups and downs," she admitted, before adding: "I think we can all look back with measured pride on the history of the last 50 years."

The monarch also praised her family, saying: "Our children, and all my family, have given me such love and unstinting help over the years and especially in recent months." It was a reference the deaths of her mother and her sister Princess Margaret earlier this year.

The queen heard the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, praise her as a figure who unified the country, which had "huge affection" for her.

"Whatever the vicissitudes of your own life, whatever dramas or crises are played out around you, no one ever doubts that commitment to serving Britain," Mr Blair said.

The sentiment was shared by the public. Police said a million people turned out in the streets to witness a spectacular display of royal pomp and festivities.

As three choirs sang Handel's coronation anthem Zadok the Priest, the queen travelled in the morning by golden carriage drawn by eight white horses from Buckingham Palace to St Paul's Cathedral for a thanksgiving service.

It was led by a carriage bearing Prince Andrew, and her grandchildren, Princes William (19), and Harry (17).

Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, and his sister Princess Anne, both in full ceremonial dress, flanked the carriage on horseback.

At St Pauls Cathedral, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, praised the queen's "steadfastness and dedication".

The afternoon was set aside for huge parades in central London including a gospel choir of 5,000 people, and 2,000 performers representing the countries of the Commonwealth marching in carnival costumes and swaying to a calypso beat. - (AFP)