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Millions celebrated 50 golden years for Queen

The Queen meets artists on stage in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, after the second concert to commemorate the Golden Jubilee (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
The Queen meets artists on stage in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, after the second concert to commemorate the Golden Jubilee (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Queen’s 2002 Golden Jubilee crowned 50 years on the throne in spectacular style.

More than a million people flocked to the capital to pay their respects as a pop concert was staged in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

Queen guitarist Brian May kicked off the show with a rock rendition of the National Anthem on the roof of the Palace.

Brian May on the palace roof
Queen guitarist Brian May plays the National Anthem on the roof of Buckingham Palace (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

More than 12,000 people watched inside the grounds while thousands more packed The Mall, enjoying the party atmosphere on the June Bank Holiday weekend.

The Queen, who wore earplugs, and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived for the second half of the concert, just in time to hear Eric Clapton perform Layla.

Dame Edna Everage, alias comedian Barry Humphries, spotted the Queen taking her place in the royal box and bellowed: “The Jubilee Girl is here, possums.”

The rather bemused monarch was greeted with rapturous cheers.

William and Harry clapped and swayed to the music, while Camilla Parker Bowles, who was also in the royal box in the row behind, sang along to the tunes.

Camilla in the royal box
Camilla Parker Bowles in the row behind the Duke of York, the Prince of Wales and Princes William and Harry at the Golden Jubilee pop concert (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Prince of Wales paid tribute to his mother on stage, called her “Mummy” and said: “We feel proud of you.”

As the royals departed, Sir Paul McCartney led the massive cast of stars in a version of The Beatles’ classic Hey Jude.

Doubters had insisted the Golden Jubilee would be a flop – the monarchy was no longer relevant and royalists should at last bow to the republicans, they argued.

Even Palace officials seemed unwilling to predict anything like the success of 1977 when the nation celebrated the Silver Jubilee.

The year started badly for the Queen with the death of her sister, Princess Margaret, and the 101-year-old Queen Mother within just seven weeks.

The Queen after her mother's funeral
The Queen leaves Westminster Abbey following the funeral of the Queen Mother (PA)

Yet the Queen’s sadness seemed to endear her to the public – and the respect shown to the Queen Mother during her long life was expressed in scenes of mass mourning when she died.

Cynics claimed the sympathy shown to the Queen and her family after two royal deaths contributed to the awareness and participation in the Golden Jubilee.

Some argued that the 2002 football World Cup was responsible for an upsurge in national identity and royal fervour.

But for whatever reasons, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee was a resounding success.

More than one million people turned out on successive days during the June Bank Holiday weekend to party on the capital’s streets.

The Mall in 2002
The scene from the roof of Buckingham Palace as crowds gather to watch the Golden Jubilee flypast of 27 aircraft including the Red Arrows and Concorde (Chris Ison/PA)

In the regions, many tens of thousands – young and old – also joined the party.

The Queen’s nationwide tour had started on May 1 in the West Country, where big crowds set the pattern for the rest of the royal visits.

Next stop was north-east England, where the people of Newcastle and Gateshead turned out in their thousands.

A Jubilee streaker added to the spectacle on May 7 when the Queen arrived to unveil a statue of the late Cardinal Basil Hume in Newcastle city centre.

The Jubilee tour around the country
The Queen with crowds on the Gateshead side of the Millennium Bridge In Newcastle during her Golden Jubilee tour of the UK (Fiona Hanson/PA)

A visit to Bisham Abbey on May 10 set up an encounter with England football coach Sven Goran Eriksson when the Queen wished David Beckham’s team good luck for the World Cup.

Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland were all part of the Jubilee itinerary.

The June 1 to June 4 Bank Holiday weekend saw the Palace host its groundbreaking pop concert, along with a classical one as well.

After the show, the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, drove to The Mall to light the national Golden Jubilee beacon.

It was the last of nearly 2,000 which stretched from Land’s End to John O’Groats and included ones as far afield as Antarctica and Zambia.

The next day there was a stately procession to St Paul’s Cathedral, a festival in The Mall, fireworks and an RAF flypast.

The armed forces staged a spectacular day of displays in Portsmouth on June 27.

The Queen in Portsmouth
The Queen on board the aircraft carrier Ark Royal in Portsmouth (PA)

Birmingham did the Queen proud when she visited on July 2 during a trip to the West Midlands.

Yorkshire and the Humber got in on the act when she saw the set of TV soap Emmerdale on July 11.

A visit to East Anglia was crowned with a sun-bathed garden party on July 18 in the grounds of Sandringham House.

Manchester was centre stage on July 25 when the Queen opened the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Earlier that day, in Liverpool, she had met Sir Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono.

In Nottingham, on July 31, the Queen met former ice dance champions Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean – and two eggs were thrown at her Bentley.

Also on July 31, in Scunthorpe, she made history when she visited a British mosque for the first time.

The Queen in Scunthorpe
The Queen meets members of the Muslim Community in Scunthorpe, after her visit to a local mosque – her first such visit in the UK (John Giles/PA)

Just 24 hours later on August 1, in Leicester, she visited a British Sikh temple for the first time.