Prince William and Kate today said they were ‘looking forward to celebrating’ the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee ahead their first official joint engagement together with Harry and Meghan in two years at Trooping the Colour.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said in a tweet on their official account this morning: ‘We’re looking forward to celebrating and seeing how you’re joining us in marking this #PlatinumJubilee weekend.’

It comes ahead of a gripping – and highly public – family reunion in front of a watching audience of millions, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex expected to be there along three-year-old Archie and Lilibet, nearly one. 

The children are likely to meet their cousins Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis at long last. Lilibet has never been introduced to her royal relatives, while Archie has not been in the UK since he was six months old.

But there is no invitation for the shamed Duke of York even in a private capacity, showing just how far the Queen’s son has fallen from grace. The Queen’s Birthday Parade at Horse Guards in London is the first official Platinum Jubilee event of the bank holiday weekend, and the most widely attended by the Windsors.

Many had thought Her Majesty’s appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony for the traditional post-parade flypast would be the most keenly anticipated moment of the day. But it is likely all eyes will, in fact, be on the family reunion playing out 50 yards down the road instead.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been invited by the Queen to join family members watching the spectacular military event from the Major General’s Office overlooking the Whitehall parade ground. The room – once used by the Duke of Wellington – spreads out over the entrance to Horse Guards. It is where dignitaries traditionally watch from if they are not involved in the parade proceedings.

The group will not include the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge or the Princess Royal. Her Majesty will remain at Buckingham Palace where she will take the returning cavalry’s salute from the balcony there. 

Charles will be taking the salute as the Colour of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards is trooped and inspect the Troops of the Household Division on the monarch’s behalf. He will be joined by his elder son and sister, with all three on horseback.

The Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and many other royals will travel to Horse Guards Parade from the palace in carriages. They will then disembark and watch the rest of the event from the Major General’s Office alongside Harry and Meghan, who will arrive by car.

The large royal party will also include all grandchildren of the Queen and their spouses. As well as the Sussexes there will be Princess Beatrice and her husband Edo, Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack and Anne’s children, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, and their families. 

Meghan will not have seen any of the family since she and her husband acrimoniously quit as working royals and moved to North America in early 2020, while the prince only saw them very briefly at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last year.

The last public occasion the Sussexes attended together in the UK was the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020 when the atmosphere could not have been more awkward. William and Kate virtually blanked Harry and Meghan that day, leaving Prince Edward and Sophie to try to keep the peace.

Fortunately William, who has been most deeply affected by his brother’s actions and has struggled to hide his hurt, will not be forced to greet the couple in public. And Kate proved to be an admirable peacemaker when she made a point of breaking the ice and speaking to Harry after the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

Harry and Meghan are staying with their children at their Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage. They had always been expected to join the congregation for tomorrow’s service of thanksgiving for the Queen’s 70-year reign at St Paul’s Cathedral, but their participation with Trooping is seen as an additional olive branch from Her Majesty.

As Britain prepares for the Platinum Jubilee weekend:

  • Plucky Brits vow to celebrate Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with street parties, four days of celebrations and miles of bunting despite councils, a gloomy forecast and advice to party indoors threatening to dampen the mood; 
  • Security experts said Harry and Meghan may hold up inside Frogmore Cottage over the bank holiday and only leave to attend two Jubilee events because they are being denied VIP 24/7 armed protection from UK police;
  • The Queen was caught in mid-air drama as a thunderstorm forced her private jet to abort its landing in London and circle over the capital for 15 minutes on Tuesday;
  • Princess Eugenie paid a moving personal tribute to her ‘grannie’ the Queen on the eve of the monarch’s historic Platinum Jubilee celebrations;

Yesterday, the Queen sent a car and a security detail to collect Harry, Meghan, Archie and Lilibet after their private jet landed in the UK from California, ahead of her celebrations.

In the latest sign that hostilities between The Firm and the Sussexes are thawing, Her Majesty’s Land Rover greeted the family and their children at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire before taking them to Frogmore Cottage.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said in a tweet on their official account this morning: ‘We’re looking forward to celebrating and seeing how you’re joining us in marking this #PlatinumJubilee weekend’

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are pictured with son Archie, three, and daughter Lilibet, who will turn one this weekend

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are pictured with son Archie, three, and daughter Lilibet, who will turn one this weekend

The Queen has thanked the nation on the eve of her historic Platinum Jubilee, saying she continues to be inspired by the goodwill shown to her - while an official portrait of Her Majesty has also been unveiled to mark the start of the celebrations

The Queen has thanked the nation on the eve of her historic Platinum Jubilee, saying she continues to be inspired by the goodwill shown to her – while an official portrait of Her Majesty has also been unveiled to mark the start of the celebrations

Harry and Meghan will watch today from the Major General’s Office, circled, overlooking Horse Guards Parade in London

People gather along The Mall for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London this morning

People gather along The Mall for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London this morning

Royal fans sing the national anthem as they gather along the Mall leading to Buckingham Palace in London this morning

Royal fans sing the national anthem as they gather along the Mall leading to Buckingham Palace in London this morning

Royal fans share a laugh as they gather along The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace in London this morning

Royal fans share a laugh as they gather along The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace in London this morning

A police officer walks down The Mall as the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations begin in London this morning

A police officer walks down The Mall as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations begin in London this morning

The Sussexes left Santa Barbara airport with their children Archie and Lilibet, and their arrival marks Lilibet’s first time in the country, ahead of today’s Trooping the Colour — the first of the Platinum Jubilee events. 

For Lilibet – who turns one on Saturday – it will be the first time she has met her great-grandmother. Their arrival comes just months after Harry claimed he was ‘unable to return home’ because is too dangerous.

All you need to know about Trooping the Colour in London today 

The four-day Jubilee celebration kicks off with the lavish Queen’s Birthday Parade today. Here is the schedule:

  • Starting at 10am at Buckingham Palace, it snakes down The Mall to Horse Guards Parade, with members of the Royal Family on horseback and in carriages joining at around 10.30am.
  • Event turns into traditional Trooping the Colour which has marked the monarch’s official birthday for 260 years.
  • The colour is being trooped by the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards – Prince William is Colonel of the Regiment – with up to 1,450 officers and soldiers from the Household Division putting on an extravagant display of military pageantry, together with 400 Army musicians and around 240 horses.
  • Royal Gun Salute. 12.52am: 82 rounds in Hyde Park. 1pm: 124 rounds at the Tower of London.
  • After parade, royals flank the Queen on the Buckingham Palace balcony to watch a special 70-aircraft RAF flypast. Prince Andrew and the Sussexes are not invited to the line-up, which comprises: The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, The Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children, The Princess Royal and Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra. 

WHERE TO WATCH

Public can watch spectacle from The Mall – lined with 200 soldiers from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards – or on large screens in nearby St James’s Park, Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh or Bute Park in Cardiff.

An insider told The Sun that ‘the Queen believed it was the right thing to do’ to send her car to meet her grandson and his family. The couple’s Embraer private jet landing at Farnborough, and the Queen’s black Land Rover – escorted by a Volkswagen people carrier – driving onto the tarmac.

The Sun reported that the family were believed to have got into the blacked-out VW car, and that they travelled without their customary entourage or senior staff working for their Archewell charity. It also said Netflix camera crews – who have been following the couple for an £11million documentary – stayed behind.

Harry, Meghan and their two children were not given a police escort for the 40-minutes drive from Farnborough to Windsor, pictures in The Sun suggested.

On Saturday, their daughter Lilibet will be marking her first birthday. The Queen is likely to miss her favourite sporting event, the Derby horse races at Epsom, for the little one’s celebrations, as she meets her for the first time.

While the couple are expected to attend Trooping the Colour as spectators today, Prince Andrew will not, a military source told MailOnline. As colonel of the Grenadier Guards, Andrew has previously played a key role in the ceremony, riding out by the Queen’s side as the regiment’s representative.

Since being stripped of the title earlier this year the Duke of York was not expected to play an active part in the event, but the possibility of him appearing with other royals on Horse Guards Parade as a spectator had previously been left open. 

Both Andrew and the Sussexes have already been barred from appearing on the Buckingham Palace to watch the RAF Red Arrows’ flypast.   

It came as security experts predicted the Sussexes may hold up inside Frogmore Cottage over the bank holiday and only leave to attend two Platinum Jubilee events because they are being denied VIP 24/7 armed protection from British police. 

After a secret visit to see the Queen at Windsor Castle in late April, the sixth in the line to the throne has received ‘cast iron assurances’ that he, Meghan, Archie and Lilibet will be protected during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations that begin today and end on Sunday. It is only the second time Meghan has returned to the UK after they sensationally quit their royal roles in 2020.

Simon Morgan, a former royal protection officer, told MailOnline yesterday that Harry would have no way of influencing the decision made by MI5, the Home Office and the Foreign Office, even if he put pressure on his grandmother to intervene. As a result they may be forced to keep a ‘low profile’ during their stay and not organise their own events.

People gather along The Mall for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London this morning

People gather along The Mall for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London this morning

Royal fans have Union flag transfers applied to their faces as they gather along The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace today

Royal fans have Union flag transfers applied to their faces as they gather along The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace today

The Queen, Prince Andrew, Prince Harry and Meghan along with other royals at Trooping the Colour in London in June 2019

The Queen, Prince Andrew, Prince Harry and Meghan along with other royals at Trooping the Colour in London in June 2019

As colonel of the Grenadier Guards, Andrew has previously played a key role at Trooping the Colour (pictured there in 2019)

As colonel of the Grenadier Guards, Andrew has previously played a key role at Trooping the Colour (pictured there in 2019)

Harry and Meghan, along with her mother Doria Ragland, introduce Archie to the Queen and Prince Philip in May 2019

Harry and Meghan, along with her mother Doria Ragland, introduce Archie to the Queen and Prince Philip in May 2019

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex board a plane at Fua'amotu International Airport in Tonga during a royal tour in October 2018

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex board a plane at Fua’amotu International Airport in Tonga during a royal tour in October 2018

Mr Morgan, who now runs the security business Trojan Consultancy, said: ‘If they are staying at Frogmore Cottage they are going to be extremely secure there and that may be why they are not doing anything away from the main Platinum Jubilee events because they will not have protection for that’.

The couple are expected to attend the Service of Thanksgiving with the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday morning – as well as the BBC’s Party at the Palace the following evening. 

Mr Morgan expects they will be given armed protection at these events, and on the journey to and from Windsor due to the security operation planned for the jubilee.

‘The jubilee is one of the highest risk events for years – and the Met have a duty of care to protect those attending, especially the royal family and foreign dignitaries’, Mr Morgan said. 

British officers will stand guard at Frogmore Cottage, where they will be protected 24/7. But this will not extend to private events such as socialising with friends at restaurants and pubs or going to the shops off the Queen’s Windsor Castle estate. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are thought to be travelling without any senior staff and just a small security team, having left their most trusted workers back home in California, according to people with knowledge of their travel plans. 

Their bodyguards, which have included those responsible for the security of Barack Obama and Michael Jackson, will not be able to carry guns in the UK and the Metropolitan Police will have primacy on security matters as soon as they step off the plane.

The Met’s Royalty and Specialist Protection unit is understood to have spent weeks liaising with Harry’s team to guarantee taxpayer-funded officers look after them as much as is allowed, The Mirror reports. 

The Queen arriving  back in Windsor on Tuesday after a short break at Balmoral ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

The Queen arriving  back in Windsor on Tuesday after a short break at Balmoral ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Prince William leads The Colonel's Review - the final evaluation of the Trooping the Colour parade - in London on May 28

Prince William leads The Colonel’s Review – the final evaluation of the Trooping the Colour parade – in London on May 28

The Sussexes are expected to stay at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, where they will hold a party for Lilibet's first birthday

The Sussexes are expected to stay at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, where they will hold a party for Lilibet’s first birthday

Lilibet will turn one on Saturday, with a party expected at Frogmore likely to be attended by royals such as Princess Eugenie, who is close to Harry and Meghan, and the Queen could also pop in if she doesn’t attend the Epsom Derby. It will be the first time the monarch will meet the great-granddaughter named after her. 

Where and when can I watch the Platinum Jubilee celebrations? 

Here is a rundown of what will happen as the nation pays tribute to the Queen’s 70 years as sovereign during the Platinum Jubilee weekend, and where to watch them on television.

TODAY 

  • 10am – The Queen’s Birthday Parade – Trooping the Colour – begins. Coverage is on BBC One, presented by Huw Edwards, Kirsty Young and JJ Chalmers.
  • 10.30am – Members of the royal family leave Buckingham Palace in carriages for Horse Guards Parade, where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will also gather to watch the ceremony. The military spectacle will be followed by a balcony appearance by the Queen, it is hoped, plus key royals including the Cambridge children, to watch a special flypast.
  • 9.25pm – Members of the royal family arrive for the lighting of the principal beacon – a 21-metre Tree of Trees sculpture at the Palace. The Queen will be at Windsor and the Duke of Cambridge in London for the dual ceremony. Kirsty Young introduces coverage from 8pm on BBC One, with Jermaine Jenas at Buckingham Palace, Gethin Jones in Wales, Carol Kirkwood in Scotland, and Holly Hamilton in Northern Ireland. More than 3,500 beacons are being lit across the UK and the Commonwealth.

TOMORROW 

  • From 9.15am on BBC One, Sophie Raworth meets many of the key people taking part in a special service of thanksgiving, while from the BBC’s Platinum Jubilee Studio at St James’ Park, Kirsty Young is joined by special guests.
  • 11am – The royal family begin to arrive for a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.
  • 11.30am – The service begins, broadcast on BBC One with commentary from David Dimbleby inside St Paul’s.
  • 12.25pm – Members of the royal family attend a Guildhall reception hosted by the Lord Mayor.

SATURDAY 

  • The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s daughter Lilibet celebrates her first birthday.
  • Senior royals tour the UK, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting Cardiff Castle to meet stars ahead of a jubilee concert, the Princess Royal taking part in an animal-handling session at Edinburgh Zoo and the Earl and Countess of Wessex travelling to Northern Ireland.
  • 4.30pm – The Epsom Derby takes place. Avid racegoer the Queen is no longer planning to attend, although members of the royal family are expected to be there. Ed Chamberlin presents racing coverage on ITV from 12.40pm. A guard of honour, made of up to 40 of the Queen’s past and present jockeys, is due to line the course.
  • 7.40pm – Royals arrive at the BBC’s Platinum Party at the Palace concert. Coverage begins on BBC One from 7.30pm with Kirsty Young in St James’s Park, and Roman Kemp backstage.
  • 8pm-10.30pm – The open-air show in front of the palace, features stars including Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys, Duran Duran and Diana Ross.

SUNDAY

  • Street parties and Big Jubilee Lunches are staged across the country.
  • Coverage begins on BBC One from 1pm with commentary from Clare Balding, while Kirsty Young, AJ Odudu, Anita Rani, Anton Du Beke, Sophie Morgan and Owain Wyn Evans report on street parties across the UK.
  • The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall join a flagship feast at The Oval cricket ground in south London, while Edward and Sophie meet people creating the ‘Long Table’ down on The Long Walk leading up to Windsor Castle.
  • 2.30pm-5pm – The Jubilee Pageant takes place in central London, with a 3km carnival procession featuring a cast of thousands including puppets, celebrities and tributes to the seven decades of the Queen’s reign.
  • It will move from Horse Guards, along Whitehall to Admiralty Arch, and down The Mall to the Palace.
  • The finale will feature Ed Sheeran performing and singing the national anthem with close to 200 national treasures in front of the Queen’s official residence.
  • It is hoped the Queen will make a balcony appearance as the festivities come to a close.
  • At 8pm on BBC Two, Kirsty Young looks back at the weekend of celebrations.

But Prince William and Kate will not be there because they will be representing Her Majesty in Cardiff as senior working royals are sent to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to mark the monarch’s 70 years on the throne.

Harry and Meghan are expected to attend the Service of Thanksgiving with the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday morning – as well as the BBC’s Party at the Palace the following evening, the report claimed.

But the sources added that the Sussexes will not conduct their own programme of events while in Britain to avoid overshadowing the four-day weekend of celebrations for the 70-year reign of Harry’s 96-year-old grandmother.

This suggests that they may stay in the grounds of Windsor Castle, where they will be protected by armed police at all times. But this will not extend to while they are out at private events such as socialising with friends at restaurants and pubs or going to the shops.

The UK’s stance is in contrast with the couple’s treatment at the Invictus Games in Holland in April, where they were afforded VVIP status. 

A former US presidential secret service agent was assigned to lead close protection for the couple and armed protection officers who usually guard the King of the Netherlands provided security outside of the venue. A Land Rover with two other private security guards drove with Harry and Meghan’s vehicle, with an unmarked car containing two members of the Dutch Royal protection squad. 

Security experts including Mr Morgan said at the time they ‘couldn’t fathom’ why Harry felt safe in Holland but not in the UK.

Harry, 37, is taking legal action against the Home Office after being stripped of permanent police protection after quitting as a frontline royal. 

Harry has since claimed he does not feel safe under these security arrangements when bringing his family to the UK and was ‘unable to return home’ over fears it is too dangerous. 

He had even offered to pay for British police bodyguards himself – but the Met said that their officers cannot be paid for.

Sources told The Mirror that he has always been ‘in favour’ of returning to the UK for the Queen’s celebrations, despite the Met insisting its officers are not ‘guns for hire’.

At their US home, Harry and Meghan are protected by a 24-hour security team, including 12 former special forces personnel.

A source said: ‘For Harry, this has always been about protecting his family.

‘He has been in constant contact with the relevant parties and made it very clear that he wouldn’t travel without receiving cast iron assurances over the safety of his family.

‘He is satisfied the right procedures are in place and they are all very much looking forward to this week’s celebrations and of course getting to spend time with Her Majesty.’ 

It comes after the couple met the monarch in a brief secret meeting with Prince Charles before they flew out to the Invictus Games in the Netherlands earlier this month.

At the meeting, Harry and Meghan promised they would introduce the Queen to Lilibet, who is named after her.

With the Queen expected to pace herself over the four-day bank holiday weekend, extended so the nation can celebrate the jubilee, there is speculation she will not travel to Epsom racecourse for the Derby on Saturday as she does not have a runner, although another of her thoroughbreds is entered in a race.

The day could be the perfect opportunity for the royal family to gather to celebrate the christening of Lilibet at Windsor Castle on the child’s first birthday.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman declined to comment on the reports and said: ‘Frogmore Cottage remains the UK home of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.’

The Mail revealed on Saturday that the Queen is set to spend time with the family on Saturday to celebrate Lilibet’s birthday.

She has never met her great-granddaughter and not seen Archie in person since he was a baby and taken by his parents to Canada and then the US.

There has also been speculation that the couple may try to get Lilibet christened while they are here in the private chapel at Windsor Castle, where Archie was also christened in 2019.

And earlier this week, he shared a post praising the Duke on Instagram, writing: ‘What a joy to see you smile and be so happy. I love being your teammate.’   

Meanwhile, the UK has gone ‘Jubilee-mad’ as people drape their gardens in Union flags and even knit life-sized figures of the beloved monarch.

In a special message released as millions across Britain prepare to gather during four days of tributes and street parties to honour her milestone 70-year reign, the Queen (pictured with her late husband Prince Philip following her coronation in 1953), 96, said 'many happy memories' would be formed during the festivities

In a special message released as millions across Britain prepare to gather during four days of tributes and street parties to honour her milestone 70-year reign, the Queen (pictured with her late husband Prince Philip following her coronation in 1953), 96, said ‘many happy memories’ would be formed during the festivities

1953 -- Crowds of people try to shelter amid heavy rain on The Mall before the for the Coronation procession in June 1953

1953 — Crowds of people try to shelter amid heavy rain on The Mall before the for the Coronation procession in June 1953

A record 12million people are gearing up for outdoor parties held in the Queen’s honour, in scenes sure to be reminiscent of the Coronation seven decades ago.

Queen thanks nation for its goodwill on eve of Jubilee celebrations 

The Queen has thanked the nation on the eve of her historic Platinum Jubilee celebrations, saying she continues to be inspired by the goodwill shown to her.

In a special message released as millions across the country prepare to gather in her honour during four days of tributes and street parties, the Queen said ‘many happy memories’ would be formed during the festivities.

An official portrait of Her Majesty at Windsor has been unveiled

An official portrait of Her Majesty at Windsor has been unveiled

The nation’s longest reigning monarch, 96, said she hoped the Jubilee weekend would provide an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the last 70 years. And she spoke of looking to the future with ‘confidence and enthusiasm’.

The message comes at the start of the extended bank holiday weekend, with millions across the UK and Commonwealth joining together in celebration of Elizabeth II and her 70-year-reign.

Her upbeat words come as the country and the world attempts to recover from the impact of the devastating coronavirus pandemic.

The Queen said: ‘Thank you to everyone who has been involved in convening communities, families, neighbours and friends to mark my Platinum Jubilee, in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth.

‘I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions.

‘I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last seventy years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.’

It was signed Elizabeth R.

The Queen’s official Platinum Jubilee portrait was unveiled along with her message, showing the monarch, looking contented and happy, photographed in her Windsor Castle home.

She is pictured sitting on a cushioned window seat, with the historic residence’s famous Round Tower visible in the distance.

With her hands resting on her lap and her hair curled in its familiar style, the Queen is dressed in a dusky dove blue Angela Kelly coat.

The shiny pearl and diamante scalloped beading, embroidered around the collar and front trim, is perhaps seemingly a nod to her historic Platinum anniversary.

The image was taken by photographer Ranald Mackechnie in the Victoria Vestibule in the Queen’s private apartments at Windsor.

And crowds of royal ‘superfans’ have been lining The Mall near Buckingham Palace to get the best views for Trooping the Colour today and a special Pageant celebrating the life of the nation’s longest-reigning monarch on Sunday.

Forecasters are expecting glorious sunshine on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but showers in London and the South East on Sunday. 

However, the excitement is so palpable that plucky Britons are shrugging off fears of downpours, and are instead preparing to throw their parties in their garages if the rain pours. 

And people are ignoring council spoilsports who are threatening OAPs with punitive fines if they dare hang patriotic bunting across their streets, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged local authorities to calm down and approve 11th hour requests for street parties. 

Just 16,000 applications to close roads for parties have been approved across the country, and unofficial Jubilee street bashes could be broken up by police if they block traffic.

Meanwhile the royal household will be making final preparations for the four-day bonanza. The Queen, who enjoyed a pre-Jubilee break in Balmoral ahead of the weekend, arrived at Windsor and is expected to delight crowds with an appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony – at the start of celebrations after Trooping the Colour. It is also expected that she will appear again on the balcony after the Pageant parade finale on Sunday.

The 96-year-old monarch is also hoping to be able attend the service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, with her wider family including – it is expected – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and the Duke of York.

However, Prince Andrew is not expected to attend Trooping the Colour after being snubbed for the most important military event of the Jubilee.  

The four-day bank holiday will start off fine and bright for most, with Thursday, when the official programme kicks off with the Trooping the Colour military spectacle in central London, the best day for people across the country to enjoy street parties, barbecues and other outdoor events. However rain is likely to put some plans in danger in western Scotland and Northern Ireland.

A few showers could spread across the south of the UK throughout the day, while some sunshine is expected in other areas.

Saturday looks dry, with temperatures in the low 20s and spells of sunshine for much of the country as an area of high pressure moves in.

However, there is a risk of some heavy showers to areas ‘south of the M4’ in England, Mr Claydon said, threatening the Epsom Derby and later the BBC’s Party at the Palace open-air concert.

Sunday promises to be dry and bright for many of the millions gathering at more than 200,000 special lunches due to be held that day.

There is still a possibility that people might need their umbrellas, with a chance that the warm air edges back into the south east and brings rain to the Jubilee Pageant parade through the streets of London.

‘If you were to look at the northern portion of the UK, it’s a fairly decent long weekend, but the uncertainty and the chance of heavy showers in the south is still up for grabs,’ Mr Claydon said.

The Met Office urged Britons heading outdoors to pack sunglasses and sun cream, as UV levels will be high when the June sun does appear.

‘For the four days there’ll be a lot of dry weather around. Yes, still some showers here and there… but many places will see sunny spells and certainly after a cool start this week it is going to be feeling warmer,’ Met Office meteorologist Alex Deakin said.

Meanwhile the excitement is spreading, with streets set to be covered in hundreds of miles of bunting as manufacturers revealed a ‘massive’ spike in demand ahead of the Platinum Jubilee.

One company said sales had risen ‘thirtyfold’ in the last month, while others warned they were running out of stock. The Hampshire Flag Company said it had just ‘a few’ decorations left, despite preparing ‘way in advance’ for a surge in orders. Extra bunting that it manufactured to cope with Jubilee demand sold out by February.

‘We’ve done about 200 miles of bunting in the last three months,’ said marketing manager Rod Sessions.

The firm usually sells ‘about 50 miles’ in the first three or four months of the year, he added.

Tesco, which expected to sell 60,000 rolls of bunting in the week leading up to the Jubilee, was also running low.

‘Anyone interested in buying any should check with their local store first,’ a spokesman for Britain’s biggest supermarket said. ‘It’s been extremely popular and we’re coming near the end of our stocks.’

Bunting Warehouse, a Leicestershire manufacturer, said the ‘incredible’ demand was higher than at any point since 2012’s Diamond Jubilee.

‘We’ve sold somewhere in the region of 90 to 100km of bunting in the last month,’ director Tim Turner said. ‘It’s twentyfold what we normally do, thirtyfold what we normally do.’

Its most popular options were of the Union Flag and Platinum Jubilee logo, which features a crown on an imperial purple background. ‘We’ve done in the region of 30km of just the Jubilee design,’ Mr Turner said.

Sodden royal superfans down The Mall were chirpy even after they were lashed by downpours overnight.

Waving from their tents after their first night of camping yesterday, John Loughrey, 67, who lives in South London , said he first fell in love with the monarchy as a child in the 1960s, and has met the Queen twice, once at Windsor Castle when he gave her a rose for each member of her family.

He added: ‘She goes out of her way to meet people. I said to Her Majesty, ‘we are very proud of you and you are always in our hearts’. She has seen so much history. She has had a long life, always been there for the Commonwealth and done her duty.’

Maria Scott, 51, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, added: ‘The police know us because we always come out at royal events. They have no problems with us doing it.

‘When the rain goes away we normally have lots of people coming by to chat to us. They think it’s wonderful how patriotic we are and it’s wonderful meeting people from so many different countries. I think the Queen is amazing. She has been very strong over the years and through her life. She is the backbone of the country.’

Mary-Jane Willows, 68, a retired charity executive from Cornwall, said she first camped out for the Diamond Jubilee, followed by the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the Queen’s 90th birthday.

‘Several of us met at those events and have stayed friends ever since,’ she said. She inherited her love of the royal family from her mother, along with an original copy of the Queen’s coronation album.

Mary-Jane said she was camping out this time to thank the Queen for 70 years of service.

‘She has given 70 years of her life to serve us, the country,’ she said. ‘That’s what she said at her coronation and she’s done it every second of every day. She’s never taken a wrong step, and so we’re here to thank her and to celebrate.’

With Mary was her friend Donna Werner, 70, from Connecticut. They met while camping out at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding, and have remained friends.

How the nation will celebrate Queen’s historic Platinum Jubilee with four days of joyous celebrations starting TODAY with Trooping the Colour before ending with a glorious pageant 

ByMark Duelland James Robinson for MailOnline 

Anticipation is building for the Queen‘s Platinum Jubilee with people across the UK preparing to mark Her Majesty’s 70th year on the throne with a four-day weekend of festivities – starting from today.

A series of major events has been scheduled, beginning this morning with Trooping the Colour and ending on Sunday with a special Pageant celebrating the life of the nation’s longest-reigning monarch. 

Outdoor parties will also take place on Sunday as part of the Big Jubilee Lunch, while there will be a televised concert on the BBC from Buckingham Palace the day before. Though celebrations have already started in some places, official events will begin today with a special Trooping the Colour.

More than 1,500 officers and soldiers and 350 horses from the Household Division will stage the display on Horse Guards Parade in London, with the colour trooped by the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards.

The Queen is expected to delight crowds with an appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony – at the start of celebrations after Trooping the Colour. It is also expected that she will appear again on the balcony after the Pageant parade finale on Sunday.

The monarch is also hoping to be able attend the service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, with her wider family including –  it is expected – Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Prince Andrew.

The Queen, 96, is also set to spend time with the Sussexes, who are bringing their children Archie and Lilibet over from the US – and could meet Lili for the first time as she celebrates her first birthday on Saturday.

On Sunday, thousands of people will gather across the country as more than 85,000 Big Jubilee Lunches and street parties are staged in celebration of the Queen’s record-breaking 70 year reign.

Royal Family members will also visit every corner of the UK over the weekend for official engagements – with William and Kate going to Wales; Edward and Sophie travelling to Northern Ireland; and Anne to Scotland. 

Here, MailOnline looks at the programme of events over the four-day bank holiday weekend from today: 

TODAY 

Trooping the Colour (from 10am, flypast at 1pm)

The official programme for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee begins with the Trooping the Colour military spectacle this Thursday, which is due to begin at around 10am at Buckingham Palace.

More than 1,500 officers and soldiers and 350 horses from the Household Division will stage the display on Horse Guards Parade in London, with the colour trooped by the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards.

Some 400 musicians from 10 military bands and corps of drums will march amid pomp and pageantry.

The Royal Family will travel from Buckingham Palace along The Mall to the parade ground in carriages at about 10.30am, with the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and the Princess Royal on horseback.

Plans are said to be in place either for the Queen briefly to inspect the troops on the parade ground or from the balcony with the Duke of Kent, or to only appear on the balcony with the royal family for a special flypast afterwards.

If the Queen does delegate her salute duties at Trooping to another family member, it will be the first time she has done so in her 70-year reign.

Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, William and the Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Anne, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence will be on the balcony for the flypast which is due to take place at about 1pm.

The Queen limited the numbers to working royals, meaning the Duke of York and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be there.

But her Cambridge great-grandchildren, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, and her two youngest grandchildren, the Wessexes’ children Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, will be present.

A six-minute display by more than 70 aircraft will include the Red Arrows and the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Platinum Jubilee Beacons (from 9.25pm)

On Thursday evening, more than 3,000 beacons will be set ablaze across the UK and the Commonwealth in tribute to the Queen.

The network of flaming tributes will stretch throughout the country, with beacons at sites including the Tower of London, Windsor Great Park, Hillsborough Castle and the Queen’s estates of Sandringham and Balmoral, and on top of the UK’s four highest peaks.

The first beacons will be lit in Tonga and Samoa in the South Pacific, and the final one in the central American country of Belize.

The principal beacon outside the Palace – a 21-metre tall Tree of Trees sculpture for the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative – will be illuminated by a senior member of the royal family, and images will be projected on to the Palace.

FRIDAY 

Service of Thanksgiving (from 11am)

A traditional service of thanksgiving will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London from 11am on Friday.

There will be no ceremonial journey to the cathedral and the Queen, if she attends, will use a different entrance to aid her comfort rather than the steep main steps.

Wider members of the family are expected to be present including possibly Harry, Meghan and Andrew, and the service will be followed by a Guildhall reception for members of the royal family.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss the service. The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, will give the sermon instead.

Justin Welby was diagnosed with mild pneumonia last Thursday and was continuing to work, but after developing symptoms over the weekend he tested for coronavirus.

SATURDAY 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit Cardiff Castle to meet performers and crew involved in the special Platinum Jubilee Celebration Concert taking place in the castle grounds later that afternoon, Buckingham Palace has announced.

During their visit, William and Kate will view rehearsals and meet some of the acts taking part in the celebrations, including Bonnie Tyler and Owain Wynn Evans.

Hosted by Aled Jones and Shan Cothi, the concert at Cardiff Castle will feature live performances from some of Wales’ best-known singers and entertainers, alongside choirs, bands and orchestras.

During the extended bank holiday weekend, the Earl and Countess of Wessex will carry out two engagements in Northern Ireland while the Princess Royal, accompanied by Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, will visit Edinburgh. 

Epsom Derby (from 4pm)

The Queen is no longer planning to attend the Epsom Derby during her Platinum Jubilee weekend. 

The 96-year-old monarch is said to want to pace herself during her milestone celebrations, with her daughter the Princess Royal representing her at the racecourse instead, The Sunday Times reported.

The Derby on Saturday June 4 was to be a personal highlight for the Queen during the four days of Jubilee festivities.

The head of state, a passionate horse owner and breeder, was due to be greeted on the course with a special guard of honour including up to 40 of her past and present jockeys.

But the newspaper revealed the monarch is now ‘increasingly unlikely’ to head to Epsom. However the Queen will still have a runner – Just Fine, in the penultimate race of the afternoon.

Lilibet’s birthday 

Saturday is also the first birthday of Harry and Meghan’s daughter Lilibet, amid speculation the youngster could spend the day with her namesake great-grandmother.

The Sussexes are flying over from the US with Lili, who has never met the Queen in person before, and her older brother Archie.

It could be the first time Harry and Meghan have been seen alongside the Windsor clan since Megxit and since they accused an unnamed senior royal of racism during their controversial Oprah Winfrey interview. 

Party At The Palace (from 7.30pm)

In the evening, the BBC’s Party at the Palace – set on three stages in front of Buckingham Palace – will entertain a live crowd of 22,000 people and a television audience of millions.

The line-up includes Diana Ross, Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys, Nile Rodgers, Andrea Bocelli, Duran Duran, Bond composer Hans Zimmer, Ella Eyre, Craig David, Mabel, Elbow and George Ezra.

The show will also feature appearances from stars including Sir David Attenborough, Emma Raducanu, David Beckham, Stephen Fry and Dame Julie Andrews.

Charles and William are preparing to deliver public tributes at the concert to the Queen, who will be watching on television from Windsor.

SUNDAY 

Big Jubilee Lunch

Millions of people are expected to sit down with their neighbours at street parties, picnics and barbecues, with more than 200,000 Big Jubilee Lunches being held across the UK on the Sunday afternoon,

Camilla, patron of the Big Lunch, will join Charles at a flagship feast at The Oval cricket ground in south London, while the Earl and Countess of Wessex will meet people creating the ‘Long Table’ down on The Long Walk leading up to Windsor Castle.

The celebration also coincides with this year’s Thank You Day –  originally set up to pay tribute to those who helped people through the pandemic.

Celebrities Ross Kemp, Gareth Southgate, Prue Leith and Ellie Simmonds have urged people to throw the biggest thank you party for the Queen.

The Platinum Pudding, Scotch eggs and fruit platters will feature on a six-metre felt creation by artist Lucy Sparrow which is to be viewed by Charles and Camilla at The Oval. It will be given pride of place in the Grand Entrance of Buckingham Palace later this year.

Members of the local community, 70 volunteers who have been recognised as Platinum Champions through the Royal Voluntary Service’s Platinum Champions Awards, celebrity ambassadors and various charity representatives will be among the guests at the cricket ground.

The royal couple will also present the Platinum Champions with certificates and pins, before cutting a Big Jubilee Lunch cake.

More than 600 international Big Jubilee Lunches are being planned throughout the Commonwealth and beyond – from Canada to Brazil, New Zealand to Japan and South Africa to Switzerland.

Edward and Sophie will join Berkshire residents for their special lunch on the Long Walk, not far from Windsor Castle.

The Long Walk is being reinvented to create ‘the Long Table’ in celebration of the jubilee. This royal pair are also set to meet groups of street performers.

Charles and Camilla will also celebrate with the residents of Albert Square in an EastEnders special. They will be seen attending a Big Lunch in a June 2 episode of the BBC soap.

The Big Lunch is an annual event aimed at celebrating community connections.

Jubilee Pageant (from 2.30pm)

The finale on June 5 is the Jubilee Pageant through the streets of London.

Set to be watched by up to a billion people across the globe, more than 10,000 people have been involved in staging the £15million procession.

Puppet corgis, a giant 3D wire bust of the Queen and the Gold State Coach are just some of the sights set to feature in the 1.8-mile (3km) parade.

Stars including Idris Elba, Sir Cliff Richard, Courtney Love and Slade’s Noddy Holder will take to open-top buses in a through-the-ages tribute to the culture and music of the 70 years of the Queen’s reign.

A peloton of 300 cyclists, riding vintage bikes from across the seven decades of her reign, is to travel down The Mall led by Sir Chris Hoy and cycling golden couple Dame Laura and Sir Jason Kenny.

Olympic champions Sir Chris, Dame Laura and Sir Jason will be among six ‘hero cyclists’ who race towards Buckingham Palace ready to complete a 360-degree circuit of the Queen Victoria Memorial on Sunday.

Some 205 vehicles will appear as part of the parade, including 11 Morris Minors, seven Land Rovers, 20 vintage Minis including one in the shape of an Outspan Orange and seven original James Bond vehicles.



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