Added by David Sandercock on February 6, 2012
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II marked her 60 years on the throne with a “thank you” to the nation Monday and a pledge that she would serve for the rest of her life.
Commemorations Monday of the day when her father, King George VI, died of lung cancer at the age of 56 on Feb. 6, 1952, were kept deliberately low key, with nationwide celebrations reserved for a long weekend of pageantry in June.
Amid freezing temperatures, the queen, 85, Monday paid a visit to the market town of King’s Lynn, in the east of England, with Prince Philip, 90 _ her husband of 64 years.
There was a 41-gun Royal Salute in London’s Hyde Park, echoed by similar ceremonies at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland and _ by the Navy _ in the southern port of Portsmouth.
The queen made the outing to King’s Lynn from the nearby royal estate of Sandringham, where her father died, and where she stayed during the anniversary and attended a church service on Sunday.
In a Diamond Jubilee message released Monday, the queen thanked Britons for the “wonderful support and encouragement” she had received over the past six decades.
And, scotching any speculation that she could ever contemplate abdicating in favor of her son, Prince Charles, she renewed her pledge to serve.
“In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness …” she said.
Prime Minister David Cameron Monday paid tribute to the queen for her “magnificent service” over six decades in which she had “guided and united our nation and the Commonwealth with experience, dignity and quiet authority.”
It was wrong to characterize the British monarchy as simply “a glittering ornament,” said Cameron. “That misunderstands our constitution and it underestimates our queen. Always dedicated, always resolute and always respected, she is a source of wisdom and continuity.”
Labor Party opposition leader Ed Miliband said: “For our country and our Commonwealth this is a day to pay tribute to the wise, tireless and trusted presence of our Queen.
“She has been a source of stability and security in a changing world during her 60 years on the throne providing guidance and comfort to all she meets,” said Miliband.
From Brussels, the European Union sent its congratulations in a message from European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
During her reign, the queen had “inspired hope, cooperation and unity” and “actively and graciously represented the United Kingdom towards European partners and the rest of the world.”
Queen Elizabeth is currently the longest-serving monarch after Queen Victoria, her great-great-grandmother, who reigned for more than 63 years from 1837 to 1901.