Queen lights beacon from Windsor Castle as Commonwealth marks her reign

The Queen has symbolically led the lighting of the principal Platinum Jubilee beacon as she marks the historic national commemorations celebrating her 70-year-reign.

The Duke of Cambridge was at Buckingham Palace on Thursday night to play his part in the dual ceremony, lighting another beacon in London.

With a touch of her hand the Queen illuminated a globe and sent a river of light from her Windsor Castle home to Buckingham Palace, where the Duke of Cambridge watched as the Tree of Trees sculpture was bathed in light.

The  21-metre Tree of Trees sculpture features 350 British-grown trees, and is illuminated with 3,500 festoon lights.

Created by British designer Thomas Heatherwick, the living creation reflects the planting of more than a million jubilee trees as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) initiative to mark 70 years of the monarch’s reign.

The Buckingham Palace and Windsor beacons were two of more than 2,000 around the UK and the Commonwealth, including the Tower of London, Windsor Great Park, Hillsborough Castle, the Queen’s estates of Sandringham and Balmoral, and on top of the UK’s four highest peaks.

Beacons were lit at towns and cities across Northern Ireland including at Titanic Belfast and St Columb’s Cathedral in Londonderry, while in Scotland, a beacon was lit at Edinburgh Castle as a piper played a tune written for the occasion.

The beacon formed the focal point for a chain of more than 3,500 flaming tributes, which criss-crossed the nation and the Commonwealth in the Queen’s honour.

Earlier in the day, thousands of well-wishers packed on to The Mall in the June sunshine, erupting in cheers for the nation’s longest reigning monarch, with the smiling Queen delighted at the patriotic scenes.

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Hours later, the 96-year-old sovereign emerged to a fanfare of trumpeters at her Berkshire home.

It is understood the Queen is missing Friday’s thanksgiving service after she experienced episodic mobility issues during Thursday’s celebrations.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said the Queen “greatly enjoyed” her birthday parade and flypast in London but “did experience some discomfort”.

The statement said: “Taking into account the journey and activity required to participate in tomorrow’s National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, Her Majesty, with great reluctance, has concluded that she will not attend.”

It is understood the decision was considered regrettable but sensible due to the length of the journey and time involved and the physical demands the service would require.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were among the guests who watched Trooping the Colour at Horse Guards from inside the Duke of Wellington’s former office, overlooking the parade ground.

They stayed out of the limelight and joined more than 30 royals including Camilla and Kate and the Queen’s extended family including all of her grandchildren.

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