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To mark their diamond wedding anniversary, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh attended a special thanksgiving service on Monday at Westminster Abbey – where they married 60 years ago. And, as it did six decades ago, the rain stopped and the sun came out just as the royal couple arrived. Wearing a dress coat in bridal white with sparkling diamante buttons and matching hat, the 81-year-old monarch was greeted with a trumpet fanfare as she entered the abbey alongside her consort of six decades.
As they walked side by side up the long aisle, they will have recognised many familiar faces among the 2,000 guests, including 500 members of the royal household past and present who have served them during their union. Among the congregation were also members of their wedding train – bridesmaids Lady Pamela Hicks and Princess Alexandra, who was ten-years-old at the 1947 service, and Prince Michael of Kent who was just five when he acted as pageboy.
Seamstress Betty Foster, who helped sew buttons on the Princess Elizabeth's Norman Hartnell satin wedding gown, and the choristers who lent their voices to the royal wedding were also present. Dignitaries included Prime Minister Gordon Brown and David Cameron, as well as the playwright Tom Stoppard and opera singer Joan Sutherland.
There were many reminders of the November 20 ceremony 60 years ago, including music such as We Wait For Thy Loving Kindess O God, composed for the original ceremony by Dr William McKie, and the altar flowers which featured the same blooms used in the Queen's bridal bouquet. Even the original kneelers the couple used – which have recently been restored and were found to be made of orange boxes – were on display.
Prince William offered a gospel reading about love while Dame Judi Dench recited the poem Diamond Wedding, specially written for the occasion by poet laureate Andrew Motion. During his address the Archbishop of Canterbury paid tribute to the couple who have had to "live more than others in the full light of publicity".
Accompanied by Prince Philip the Queen, who is the first reigning monarch in British history to celebrate her diamond wedding anniversary, paused to look at the couple's signatures on the wedding registry as they left the Abbey. They also stopped to speak to ten other couples who were celebrating their Diamond anniversary, and who'd been invited to the service.
Afterwards the royal pair were due to visit Parliament Square to unveil a Jubilee Walkway plaque.