Queen lights Jubilee beacon in stunning ceremony but won't attend St Paul’s service

2 June 2022, 19:37 | Updated: 3 June 2022, 09:01

The Queen lit a beacon to mark her 70 years on the throne as fires were lit around the country
The Queen lit a beacon to mark her 70 years on the throne as fires were lit around the country. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The Queen has lit the first of the Platinum Jubilee beacons celebrating her 70 years on the throne in a spectacular end to the first day of national commemorations celebrating her reign.

The lighting ceremony at Windsor Castle came hours after she decided not to attend tomorrow's service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral.

The head of state illuminated a globe and sent a river of light from her Windsor Castle home to Buckingham Palace, where the Duke of Cambridge watched as the Tree of Trees sculpture was bathed in light.

The Queen sent a river of light to the beacon with the push of a button
The Queen sent a river of light to the beacon with the push of a button. Picture: Alamy

The symbolic moment came at the end of the first day of the monarch's celebrations marking her 70-year milestone, and was something she "greatly enjoyed".

Other beacons were lit with pipers across the UK performing the ‘Die Regnare’. Beacons were also lit across the Commonwealth at 9.15pm local time.

But her Majesty experienced a recurrence of her "episodic mobility issues" and decided to cancel her appearance at the Thanksgiving Service for 70-year reign, being held at St Paul's Cathedral on Friday.

Queen Elizabeth II symbolically leads the lighting of the principal Jubilee beacon at Windsor Castle
Queen Elizabeth II symbolically leads the lighting of the principal Jubilee beacon at Windsor Castle. Picture: Alamy

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: "The Queen greatly enjoyed today’s Birthday Parade and Flypast but did experience some discomfort".

The Jubilee beacon being lit in Ramsden in Essex
The Jubilee beacon being lit in Ramsden in Essex. Picture: LBC

"Taking into account the journey and activity required to participate in tomorrow's National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral, Her Majesty, with great reluctance, has concluded that she will not attend."

She is believed to have experienced episodic mobility issues during Thursday's events.

It is understood the decision was considered regrettable but sensible due to the length of the journey and time involved and the physical demands the service would require.

Prince Andrew withdrew from attending the service earlier today. Buckingham Palace said he had tested positive for Covid-19.

Her Majesty joined other members of the royal family for the historic moment as they marked Britain's first Platinum Jubilee.

The royal family delighted the waiting crowd of tens of thousands in front of the palace as they appeared to watch a military flypast, as the bumper bank holiday weekend celebrations of the Queen's 70 years on the throne began.

The royals' appearance on the balcony followed the vibrant Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade, just down the Mall.

The royals looked delighted as 70 aircraft flew overhead, including Chinook and Puma helicopters, Spitfire fighters and Lancaster bombers, and the F35 stealth fighters, among a raft of other military aircraft.

A total of 15 Eurofighter Typhoon jets spelled out the letters "70" as they flew overhead, delighting the thousands below,

The royal family came out onto the balcony to rapturous applause, with the packed crowd outside the palace cheering the moment they sighted the Queen.

Her Majesty wore sunglasses and a dusky dove blue coat made out of wool.

Prince Charles stood to the Queen's right, and the two spoke and smiled with each other.

Prince Louis waved towards the sky and could also be seen resting his chin in his hands as the flypast went overhead.

Notably absent from the balcony were Prince Andrew, Harry and Meghan. It was known ahead of the time that the three would not appear on the balcony.

Read more: Police arrest Platinum Jubilee activists after animal protesters run in front of parade

It followed an 82-gun salute in Green Park and Hyde Park in London.

The flypast and Trooping the Colour parade are just the start of the jubilee celebrations. Friday will see the service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral.

The weekend will involve the Epsom Derby while Sunday will see neighbours unite in celebration for lunch together.