Queen marks 60 years on throne


QUEEN ELIZABETH, who today marks her 60th anniversary on the throne, yesterday joined the congregation at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk for Sunday service, despite the winter cold.

Joined by Prince Philip, the queen, who ascended to the throne in 1952 on the death of her father, George VI, was warmly greeted by well-wishers outside the West Newton church.

Her anniversary will be officially celebrated in June, most notably with a flotilla of 1,000 boats on the Thames, along with the lighting of beacons throughout Britian.

During the year, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, who is recovering from a pre-Christmas operation to clear a blocked artery, will travel widely around the country.

Other members of the British royal family will travel abroad, with Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, visiting Malaysia, Singapore, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Paying tribute, former Conservative prime minister John Major said the weekly meetings between the queen and the 12 prime ministers of her reign were invaluable.

“They’re very useful. I mean, where else can you talk to one person in total certainty that it’s entirely secret? That nobody is going to talk to anybody else about what is said? So they’re very free, they’re very frank, they’re very useful. And, of course, the queen has been there for 60 years. Her first prime minister was Winston Churchill,” he said.

“Most of the present cabinet weren’t born when the queen became monarch. So there’s very little she hasn’t seen, very little she doesn’t understand. And anyone who doesn’t listen to her view and consult her when necessary is missing a huge opportunity.”