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Queen Elizabeth II kicked off her Diamond Jubilee celebrations by attending Epsom Derby with other members of the royal family.
The Queen received a rapturous welcome as the royal motorcade made its way onto the course, and she was greeted by Katherine Jenkins’ rendition of the National Anthem as she emerged from her car. In addition to her husband, she was also joined by several of her relatives, including the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
The Queen is a keen horsewoman, and the Epsom Derby is one of the highlights of her year. In past years, she has had a horse in the race, and it is said that winning the Derby is one of her fondest ambitions. She has already won the 1,000 Guineas, the 2,000 Guineas, the Oaks, and the St. Leger. Last year, her horse Carleton House came in third.
“She’s incredibly knowledgeable. Her knowledge of thoroughbreds and breeding goes way back,” said Anthony Cane, chairman of Epsom Downs Racecourse.
Epsom had a carnival atmosphere this year, with a dramatic parachute fall by the British Army’s Red Devils taking place shortly before she arrived. Spectators were treated to a performance by Ashleigh Butler and her dog, the winners of Britain’s Got Talent. There were also stiltwalkers dressed as guardsmen, complete with trademark red tunics and bearskin hats.
Today’s race is traditionally called the Coronation Cup, but it has been renamed the Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup. After the race, the Queen presented the trophy to trainer Aiden O’Brien. His horse, St. Nicholas Abbey, also won last year.
Elsewhere in Britain, the start of the Jubilee was marked by a 41-gun salute in London, and 21-gun salutes in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. On Sunday, the Queen will take part in a pageant on the Thames that will see over 1,000 boats sailing down river. On Monday, there will be a picnic for 10,000 members of the public at Buckingham Palace, followed by a pop concert featuring such luminous names as Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Tom Jones, Sir Elton John, Robbie Williams, and Stevie Wonder. Come nightfall, 2,012 beacons will be lit across the country. The Jubilee celebrations will conclude on Tuesday with a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral, after which the Queen will attend a reception in her honor hosted by the Lord Mayor of London at Mansion House. Meanwhile, millions of her subjects will take part in street parties and other local events.