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A humbling experience that's touched me deeply; Queen's words of thanks for celebrations.

Byline: Tony Jones

THE Queen thanked the nation last night for a series of heart-warming Diamond Jubilee celebrations marking her 60 years on the throne, saying it had been a humbling experience.

As four days of festivities drew to a close, she made a rare television address in which she said she had been deeply touched by the scale of the celebrations across the country.

The Queen set the seal on a weekend of celebrations by making a Buckingham Palace appearance with close members of her family in front of what organisers estimated was a crowd of more than a million people.

But missing from her side was the Duke of Edinburgh, who she famously described as her strength and stay on her golden wedding anniversary in 1997.

His absence is likely to have given the day a bitter-sweet taste for the monarch, who relies heavily on her consort.

After visiting him in hospital, their youngest son, the Earl of Wessex, said Philip, 90, who is suffering from a bladder infection, was getting better and was watching events on TV.

Smiling and looking visibly moved by the reaction of the vast crowds, she was surrounded by the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as they watched a fly-past of Second World War aircraft and the Red Arrows.

Thousands of euphoric revellers cheered and sang the national anthem as the Queen appeared on the balcony.

Well-wishers packed the Mall to catch the glimpse of the Queen and many had camped overnight to secure their spot.

As the royal party waved from the balcony, the sky was decorated with red, white and blue smoke trails from the Red Arrows, which took part in a flypast.

The Queen's Guard made a "feu de joie" - a celebratory cascade of rifle fire - on the palace forecourt, interspersed with the national anthem played by the Band of the Irish Guards.

It is only the second time a feu de joie has been fired in Her Majesty's reign.

Crowds have been a major feature of the four-day Bank Holiday with huge numbers turning out for all the key royal events - the River Thames Pageant, concert and carriage procession.

In her message last night the Queen said: "The events that I have attended to mark my Diamond Jubilee have been a humbling experience.

"It has touched me deeply to see so many thousands of families, neighbours and friends celebrating together in such a happy atmosphere."

She added: "I hope that memories of all this year's happy events will brighten our lives for many years to come.

"I will continue to treasure and draw inspiration from the countless kindnesses shown to me in this country and throughout the Commonwealth.

"Thank you all."

Tributes have been paid to the Queen throughout the weekend with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, praising her dedication to country and Commonwealth in a St Paul's Cathedral thanksgiving service yesterday. Charles gave a moving speech on the stage of the Diamond Jubilee concert, calling the Queen "Mummy" and describing her as a very special person. The Diamond Jubilee weekend was four days of contrasts for the Queen, encompassing spectacular sporting, musical and cultural events.

The Queen started her celebrations at the Epsom Derby on Saturday, surrounded by the racing world of thoroughbreds, jockeys, trainers and owners. More than a million people attended the pageant on the River Thames which was hailed a success despite the cold conditions and persistent rain which deluged participants and public.

The flotilla event was the last time the duke was seen but he appeared to be enjoying himself throughout and did not look to be in discomfort.

Stevie Wonder serenaded the Queen at the star-studded music concert staged in the shadow of the palace and Sir Paul McCartney brought the house down playing a string of Beatles hits.

Yesterday saw more formal engagements for the Queen, from a City of London Livery Companies lunch in Westminster Hall to a reception for the thanksgiving service congregation.

Prime Minister David Cameron, highlighting how the weekend had been a unifying event for the nation, said: "I think really it is the best of Britain.

"We have seen the country come together with a sense of celebration and unity but also tremendous resilience, resilience from people who want to celebrate despite the weather and resilience of course from Her Majesty - nothing stops her doing the job she does."

QUEEN'S MESSAGE THE Queen's address in full said: "The events that I have attended to mark my Diamond Jubilee have been a humbling experience.

"It has touched me deeply to see so many thousands of families, neighbours and friends celebrating together in such a happy atmosphere.

"But Prince Philip and I want to take this opportunity to offer our special thanks and appreciation to all those who have had a hand in organising these Jubilee celebrations. "It has been a massive challenge, and I am sure that everyone who has enjoyed these festive occasions realises how much work has been involved.

"I hope that memories of all this year's happy events will brighten our lives for many years to come. I will continue to treasure and draw inspiration from the countless kindnesses shown to me in this country and throughout the Commonwealth.

"Thank you all."

The broadcast, lasting just over two minutes, was recorded in the Presence Room in Buckingham Palace before the Jubilee Concert.

In the broadcast the Queen wears a pale blue day dress by Karl Ludwig Couture and Cartier aquamarine and diamond clips, which were an 18th birthday present from her parents in 1944.

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HUMBLED The Queen on the balcony with Prince Charles and William FLAG-WAVING The vast crowds assembled outside Buckingham Palace
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 6, 2012
Words:961
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