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Britain had celebrated coronations, royal weddings and silver jubilees over the centuries. But never before, in over 1,000 years, had a member of the royal family celebrated their 100th birthday. The celebrations for the Queen Mother's centenary began with a thanksgiving service at St Paul's Cathedral on July 11. For a deeply spiritual woman, who prayed quietly before her coronation and was anointed as Queen-Empress, this was a very moving occasion. Four generations of her family came together to witness the historic service and the Queen honoured her mother by granting her precedence to lead the royal party outside to meet the people.

The pageant on Horse Guards Parade on July 19 was a similar mixture of the old world and the new. The 350 charities with which the Queen Mother was involved as either patron or president had the chance to march past in thanks for her support over the years. The parade showed the vast contribution the Queen Mother made to the history of the nation. Typically she herself saw it the other way round. In a speech to assembled politicians the night before, she said: "I feel very grateful that in the last decades I have had the opportunity to serve my country and its great people."
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