Guns boomed as Queen Elizabeth on Monday celebrated the 60th anniversary of her accession to the British throne kicking off the run-up to the official Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June billed as the biggest event of the year, up there with the London Olympics.
She is the longest-serving British monarch after her great-great grandmother Victoria and has seen 11 Prime Ministers come and go. David Cameron is Her Majesty's 12th Prime Minister.
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A series of gun salutes including two in London — one in Hyde Park and the other at the Tower of London — and release of two official photographs of the Queen marked the Accession Day.
For the 85-year-old monarch, the occasion evoked mixed emotions as the day also marked the 60th death anniversary of her father George VI whose sudden demise on February 6, 1952 catapulted her to the throne. The newly-married Princess Elizabeth was holidaying in Kenya with her husband Prince Philip when she was informed of her father's death and she rushed back to Britain to be installed as Queen.
The Queen usually spends the day privately but this year she broke with tradition to pay a low-key visit to a nursery school in Norfolk and watched a musical performance by children. Earlier, she was greeted by well-wishers who presented her flowers.
In a message, she thanked the people for their “wonderful support and encouragement” and said she had been “deeply moved” by the many messages she had received.
“In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness…” she said.
Mr. Cameron praised her “magnificent service” describing her as a “source of wisdom and continuity”.
“With experience, dignity and quiet authority she has guided and united our nation and the Commonwealth over six varied decades,” he said.