It promises to be the biggest party the capital has ever witnessed. Four days of pomp, pageantry and festivities that are likely to see millions of people taking to the streets to join in with the spectacular Diamond Jubilee celebrations taking place throughout the specially extended bank holiday weekend.
As well as the more traditional events, such as a Service of Thanksgiving and formal receptions, there will be incredible spectacles such as the 1,000-strong flotilla along the Thames and the Diamond Jubilee Concert in front of Buckingham Palace.
There will be more informal affairs, too, like the Big Jubilee Lunch with 10,000 street parties planned across Britain – double the amount held to mark last year’s wedding of Kate and William.
To help you make the most of the Diamond Jubilee weekend, we preview the highlights of what each of the four days has to offer.
The Diamond Jubilee weekend gallops off to a flying start when the Queen attends the Epsom Derby. Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins will be joined by the Band of HM Royal Marines for a rendition of the national anthem. Appropriately for the occasion, the Coronation Cup has been renamed the Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup – and the trophy will be presented by Her Majesty.
The Diamond Jubilee isn’t just about how the royal family celebrates – the whole nation is being urged to get involved in the Big Jubilee Lunch. Promoted by the Big Lunch initiative, which encourages people to come together with their neighbours, thousands of local street parties, picnics and other events are being organised for the Sunday and across the weekend.
Many celebrities reveal they will be joining in their local events. Joanna Lumley says she will be baking parmesan cheese wafers, while Phillip Schofield wants to take charge of the barbecue.
A magnificent flotilla of boats along the River Thames will provide one of the most spectacular Diamond Jubilee sights.
The Queen will be joined by members of her family including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as she and the Duke of Edinburgh travel on the Royal Barge. Other senior royals will board different vessels for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, which will consist of up to 1,000 boats, many of them historical in nature to reflect Britain’s unique maritime heritage. At seven miles in length, the flotilla will pass by London’s key landmarks and take an estimated 75 minutes to complete the route.
Set against the visually stunning backdrop of Buckingham Palace, the cream of Britain’s music talent will perform on a specially constructed circular stage built around the Queen Victoria Memorial.
The10,000 lucky guests who secured a ticket via ballot – 1.2 million people applied – will watch acts including Jessie J, Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Paul McCartney and Kylie Minogue alongside the Queen and 56 members of the royal family.
There’s no letting up on the celebrations on the final day of the Jubilee weekend. Military bands, a royal carriage procession through the streets of Westminster and a flypast over the Buckingham Palace balcony will bring a rapturous end to the four-day extravaganza.
The day will begin at 10.30am with a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will then depart for a reception at Mansion House, while the rest of the royal family and the full congregation of the St Paul’s Cathedral will attend a separate event at Guildhall.
Then comes a Diamond Jubilee lunch in Westminster Hall, where the monarch and Prince Philip will be joined by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and 700 specially invited guests.
After the lunch, at 2.20pm, comes one of the highlights of the weekend as the Queen, her husband and the five members of her family joining them depart for Buckingham Palace in three historic carriages.
The route will be lined with more than 1,000 personnel from all three armed forces, military bands will play, and there will be a 60-gun salute fired during the procession.
Just before 3.30pm, the Queen, Philip, Charles, Camilla, William, Kate and Harry will appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the RAF flypast and a Feu de Joie from the forecourt – a celebratory cascade of rifle fire.