Queen Prepares To Mark 60 Yrs On Throne

Published February 5, 2012 2:36PM (EST)

LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II braved the cold and snow to attend church Sunday on the eve of her Diamond Jubilee anniversary.

Bundled in a brown coat and matching fur hat, Elizabeth was joined by her husband, Prince Philip, at the service at West Newton church on her Sandringham Estate in eastern England.

Following a service that lasted less than an hour, the queen took time to greet and accept flowers from well-wishers huddled in the freezing temperatures to catch a glimpse of her.

The bitter cold and snow that blanketed much of Britain forced a change of plans for Philip. He had been due to travel to nearby Kings Lynn to participate in the 90th anniversary parade of the local Royal British Legion branch, but the event was canceled because of the snow.

The 85-year-old monarch marks 60 years on the throne on Monday. The anniversary will be marked by a series of regional, national and international events throughout 2012.

Elizabeth ascended the throne when her father, George VI, died on Feb. 6, 1952. She is the longest-serving monarch after Queen Victoria, who reigned for more than 63 years.

The Queen typically spends Feb. 6 privately but she has two official engagements scheduled for Monday. First, Elizabeth will visit King's Lynn Town hall to meet staff and view historical artifacts. Then she is expected to tour a local nursery school and meeting pupils before watching a play there about her 60 years as sovereign.

Over the course of 2012, members of the royal family — including Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge — will fan out across the globe and travel to Commonwealth countries including Canada, Jamaica and Belize in honor of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The Queen and Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, will stay closer to home, touring the U.K. from March to July.

The 2012 Diamond Jubilee weekend will be held from June 2-5, with the main highlight likely to be a massive pageant on the Thames river featuring a 1,000-strong flotilla.

By Salon Staff

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