Thousands of members of the UK's Armed Forces across all three Services will be taking part in ceremonial duties at various events this weekend to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
The Diamond Jubilee marks 60 years of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, and various events will be taking place over the central celebratory extended weekend of 1 to 5 June 2012 with a large contingent of military involvement.
One of the Royal Navy’s newest ships, HMS Diamond, will launch the nation’s weekend of Jubilee celebrations during a spectacular entry into Portsmouth Naval Base on Friday, 1 June.
The Type 45 destroyer’s crew will fire a 21-gun salute and give three cheers to Her Majesty when the ship enters Portsmouth Harbour at 1030hrs while four Navy helicopters - two Merlin and two Lynx - perform a flypast over the ship in a diamond formation.
The Navy saluting gun overlooking the harbour entrance at Fort Blockhouse, Gosport, will fire 21 times in return. HMS Diamond will be led into the harbour by two Royal Navy patrol vessels - HMS Raider and HMS Blazer.
Fleet Commander, Admiral George Zambellas, said:
It is fitting that Her Majesty’s Ship Diamond should mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in this way.
The Queen’s affection for and commitment to the Armed Forces have touched the lives of many servicemen and women and their families over the past 60 years and I am proud that HMS Diamond is helping to launch this special weekend of celebrations across our island nation.
Once the ship is berthed in the naval base the celebrations will take on a more relaxed fashion with a street party for the 190 crew and guests on the ship’s flight deck.
On Sunday, 3 June, people across the UK will be taking part in the Big Jubilee Lunch, which encourages neighbours to get together in the garden or the street to have lunch together. Members of the Armed Forces have been encouraged to participate and hold Big Jubilee Lunches in ships, barracks and air stations.
Troops deployed to Camp Bastion, the main British base in Helmand province, Afghanistan, will be amongst those holding a Big Jubilee Lunch.
One of the main Diamond Jubilee events of the weekend will be the Diamond Jubilee Pageant along the River Thames in London. The pageant will see a seven-mile-long (11.2km) flotilla of over 1,000 vessels sailing between 1400hrs and 1800hrs from Battersea Bridge to Tower Bridge, and finishing at Greenwich.
The flotilla will be divided into ten sections, with music herald barges separating each one, and will include the Royal Barge containing Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.
Several vessels of the Royal Navy will be accompanying the Royal Barge. These will be two P2000 patrol boats, two picket boats, two rigid inflatable boats from HMS Diamond, and four offshore raiding craft from 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines.
A Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines will follow the royal section of the pageant in a separate vessel that will include six buglers acting as herald trumpeters sounding a fanfare as the royal party arrives and then each time the Royal Barge passes under one of the Thames’ many bridges.
The Honourable Artillery Company will fire a gun salute for the Queen as the Royal Barge passes the Tower of London.
The flotilla is also due to include a Second World War RAF boat, currently on display at the RAF Museum, which will be manned by current RAF personnel.
Another boat will be rowed by a team representing BLESMA, the British Limbless Ex Service Men’s Association. See the story at Related News about a soldier injured in Afghanistan rowing in the pageant to read more on this.
The Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm will conclude the pageant with a spectacular helicopter ‘Diamond 9’ formation flypast, led by a Swordfish biplane from the Royal Navy Historic Flight.
The final day of the weekend’s celebrations, on Tuesday, 5 June, will start in the morning with a Thanksgiving Service at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral.
Lining the steps into St Paul’s will be personnel from all three Services, including troops from the Household Cavalry.
The State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry, the Band of the Welsh Guards, and the Royal Air Force Fanfare Trumpeters will perform at the Service of Thanksgiving.
In the afternoon, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals) will provide a Sovereign’s Escort of nine officers and 109 ‘other ranks’ for Her Majesty The Queen for a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace.
The Mounted Band of the Household Cavalry will ride along the route ahead of the procession. Read about the Household Cavalry’s preparations at Related News.
The processional route will be lined with more than 1,000 personnel and military musicians from all three Services. These will include officers and other ranks from:
• ships, submarines, the Fleet Air Arm and land establishments of the Royal Navy
• the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards of the Household Division, and the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, from the Army
• the Queen’s Colour Squadron (63 Squadron RAF Regiment), from the Royal Air Force.
Tri-Service bands will line the processional route alongside the street-liners. These will be:
• a Band of the Royal Marines
• the Bands of the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards of the Household Division
• a Band of the Royal Air Force.
The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will perform a gun salute from Horse Guards Parade to coincide with the carriage procession.
A Guard of Honour of three officers and 101 other ranks from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards will be on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s return in the carriage procession.
When Her Majesty appears on the balcony, the Guard of Honour will perform a ‘feu du joie’. Translated as ‘fire of joy’, a feu du joie is a ceremonial celebration whereby a salute is fired by rifles in rapid succession along a line of troops and back again, interspersed with bars of the National Anthem.
The feu du joie was last performed in honour of Her Majesty The Queen’s 80th birthday, following the Queen’s Birthday Parade in 2006.
The day and weekend’s official celebrations will end with a flypast by the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Red Arrows.
The formation will fly down The Mall as the Royal Family watch from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
The flypast will include a Dakota, from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, flanked by two King Air aircraft, and a Lancaster, Spitfires and a Hurricane, also from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, ahead of the Red Arrows who will make their entrance seconds later.
Leading the nine Red Arrows and closing the celebrations will be Squadron Leader Jim Turner in Red 1:
We are all extremely proud to be part of this auspicious event and to be a part of aircraft from the Royal Air Force at this tri-Service celebration,” he said.
We would like to offer our congratulations to Her Majesty on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee.