Queen Elizabeth offers thanks amid Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Four days of festivities are taking place in the UK as longest-serving monarch marks 70 years on the throne.

Queen Elizabeth II has thanked all those involved in her Platinum Jubilee celebrations ahead of four days of pomp, parties, parades and public holidays to herald her record-breaking 70 years on the British throne.

Millions of people across the United Kingdom and the world are expected to join the festivities starting on Thursday in honour of the 96-year-old, who has reigned for longer than any of her predecessors.

“Thank you to everyone who has been involved in convening communities, families, neighbours and friends to mark my Platinum Jubilee, in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth,” the monarch said in a statement.

“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last 70 years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.”

The celebrations began with the Trooping the Colour military parade in central London at 09:00 GMT. The queen was expected to join the working members of her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of the event, when 70 aircraft were set to roar overhead.

There will also be gun salutes in the capital, across the UK and from Royal Navy ships at sea at midday, while in the evening beacons will be lit across the country and the Commonwealth, with the queen leading the lighting of the Principal Platinum Jubilee Beacon at her Windsor Castle home.

Union flags, bunting and banners are flying in many streets throughout the UK [Alberto Pezzali/AP]

Four days of festivities

The jubilee is being commemorated with a four-day holiday weekend.

The celebrations will also include a service of thanksgiving on Friday at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, a concert at Buckingham Palace on Saturday and a pageant staged by thousands of performers drawn from schools and community groups around the country on Sunday afternoon.

Throughout the weekend, street parties are expected to take place around the country and the government says some 600 “Big Jubilee Lunches” will also be held in 80 countries from Greenland to New Zealand.

Thursday marks not only the start of the jubilee, but also the 69th anniversary of the coronation of Elizabeth, who became queen on the death of her father George VI in February 1952.

Polls show she remains hugely popular and respected among her subjects, with one survey this week showing eight in 10 people held a positive view of her, and another found three-quarters thought she had done a good job as queen.

“I cannot think of any other public figure, any other celebrity, any other president … who could possibly have remained so popular,” former UK Prime Minister John Major told BBC radio.

“Her life has been played out in public – the highs, the lows, the good bits and not so good bits. The queen has represented our better selves for over 70 years,” he added.

Not everyone will be joining in the festivities, though. Anti-monarchy campaign group Republic, which is putting up the message “Make Elizabeth the last” on billboards across Britain, said a survey showed more than half of the public were not interested in the jubilee.

A man wearing a Union Jack suit looks on as people gather along The Mall for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London
Polls show Elizabeth remains hugely popular and respected among her subjects [Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

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