The Queen has lit the first of her Platinum Jubilee beacons, sending a spark of light around the globe and heralding the start of celebrations throughout the Commonwealth.
With the touch of her hand 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 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”.
After acknowledging the salute of the servicemen and women who took part in Trooping the Colour, she returned to Buckingham Palace’s balcony and received the admiration of the crowds surrounded by her family as they watched the traditional flypast of aircraft.
But she 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.
As she walked from Windsor Castle’s Sovereign’s Entrance into the Quadrangle the Queen saw more than 100 people who live within the walls of the royal home and were invited to the event.
Peter McGowran, chief yeoman warder from the Tower of London, carefully placed the Commonwealth of Nations Globe on a stand that glowed purple.
The object – a globe of the world within a crown – has been kept at the tower for safety and other yeoman warders were in attendance.
After touching the symbol of the world, which sat on a cushion, the purple stand turned white and a river of purple lights spread across the Quadrangle and turned white in succession.
Pageant master Bruno Peake, who organised the beacons marking the Queen’s diamond and platinum jubilees, said more than 3,500 beacons would be lit around the globe, something the Queen commented on.
After speaking to the monarch he added: “She said, ‘More beacons, every time you do it you have more beacons’ – which is great.
“To be able to stand next to your monarch commemorating a unique anniversary and moment in her life is such a privilege. It looked as though she didn’t want to leave.”
The Queen was wearing a new piece of jewellery for the event – a diamond brooch which was a gift commissioned by the Goldsmiths’ Company to mark her Platinum Jubilee.
The brooch was inspired by the four home nations which are represented by four diamond swirls and the national flowers – rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock.
It also includes a representation of the flowering plant lily of the valley, which was part of the Queen’s Coronation bouquet.