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British queen leads 1,000-strong jubilee flotilla

June 4, 2012 • Entertainment


Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall speak while on the royal barge during the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London Sunday June 3, 2012. More than 1,000 boats will sail down the River Thames on Sunday in a flotilla tribute to Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne that organizers are calling the biggest pageant on the river for 350 years. (AP Photo/John Stillwell, Pool)

LONDON (AP) — The River Thames became a royal highway Sunday, as Queen Elizabeth II led a motley but majestic flotilla of more than 1,000 vessels in a waterborne pageant to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

In a colorful salute to the island nation’s maritime past, an armada of skiffs and sailboats, rowboats and paddle steamers joined a flower-festooned royal barge down a 7-mile (11-kilometer) stretch of London’s river.

With a crowd of rain-soaked spectators estimated by organizers at 1.25 million cheering from the riverbanks, the pageant was the largest public event in four days of celebrations of the monarch’s 60 years on the throne. On Monday, the queen will join thousands of revelers at an outdoor concert beside Buckingham Palace, headlined by pop royalty including Paul McCartney and Elton John.

With any luck, the weather will improve. Sunday was dismal and damp, with rain scuttling plans for a ceremonial fly past, but that didn’t stop Union Jack-waving spectators forming a red, white and blue wave along the pageant route.

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