Armed Forces Mark Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Paul Harrison, royal correspondent
Armed Forces Mark Queen's Diamond Jubilee

The Queen has told members of her armed forces the country is "proud of the selfless service and sacrifices" made by them and their families in recent years.

Her comments came as more than 2,500 Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army personnel gathered in Windsor in honour of the Monarch's 60 years on the throne.

Joined by other members of her family including the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Queen smiled as her armed forces paraded passed her within the walls of Windsor Castle.

The Diamond Jubilee parade and muster began with a flypast of RAF Typhoons in a so-called diamond nine formation and concluded with a march through Windsor streets packed with well-wishers to an arena near the castle.

The Queen , who was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh dressed in the navy blue uniform of Admiral of the Fleet, then addressed her forces as their Commander-in-Chief:

"It is a tradition of very long standing that the Sovereign, and members of the Royal Family, are intimately associated with the armed forces and have been proud to serve in all three services.

Also invited to the jubilee muster were monarchs from around the world such as the Sultan of Brunei, the Queen and Prince of Denmark, the King and Queen of Lesotho who also attended Friday's jubilee lunch hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle.

Among the heads of state was the King of Swaziland, criticised by many for living a lavish lifestyle while large numbers of his subjects live in poverty.

Paying tribute to the Queen, Sir David Richards, the Chief of the Defence Staff said: "For six decades, your devotion to duty, sense of honour, and pride in our country have set the standards to which your armed forces constantly aspire."

"I know I speak for all those who have the privilege to wear your uniform and hold your commission when I thank you for your dedication to our service and to our country."

He also alluded to the imminent return to Afghanistan of the Queen's grandson Prince Harry.

To close the celebrations, the arena crowd and those gathered around Windsor Castle were treated to a 78-aircraft, tri-service flypast as the bands played songs including Land of Hope and Glory, and Rule Britannia.

20 Tucanos formed the shape of '60' as they flew overhead and 27 Hawks spelled the letters 'E II R'.

The Queen was given a stirring 'three cheers' by all personnel on parade before she departed for a lunch attended by 200 guests.