Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations continue with service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral

Crowds have begun to arrive at a national service of thanksgiving on day two of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

The Queen, 96, pulled out of today’s ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral after experiencing discomfort during yesterday’s Trooping the Colour to celebrate her official birthday.

Prince Charles, 73, has taken his mother’s place, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also attending as four days of events to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne continues.

Today’s service will mark the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first official appearance at a royal event together since they left the UK to live in the US two years ago.

But Prince Andrew will not be attending after testing positive for Covid.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie were among the first prominent political guests seen at the cathedral this morning, with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arriving just before 10.30am.

Speaker of the Commons, Lindsay Hoyle and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer were was also seen arriving ahead of the service, with members of the Armed Forces aligned outside St Paul’s.

The Queen was force to pull out of today’s ceremony after experiencing discomfort at yesterday’s Trooping the Colour (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

A statement from palace last night had said: “The Queen greatly enjoyed today’s birthday parade and flypast but did experience some discomfort.

“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.”

Today’s service will bring together 400 honours recipients, including charity volunteers, teachers, NHS workers and members of the armed forces.

Boris Johnson will give a reading from the New Testament, with members of the Cabinet and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also attending.

The Dean of St Paul’s, Dr David Ison, will say in The Bidding: “We come together in this Cathedral Church today to offer to God our thanks and praise for the reign of Her Majesty the Queen and especially for her 70 years of faithful and dedicated service.

“As we gather from communities across her realm and the Commonwealth of Nations, we rejoice in the diverse and varied lives of all those whom she serves, and in the beauty and abundance of the world in which we live.

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“Inspired by words and music, we pray that God will continue to bless and guide Her Majesty, and that we may all receive grace to honour life and to live in harmony with one another; and we continue to pray for those whose lives are marred by conflict, suffering and tragedy.”

One of the country’s largest bells, the Great Paul, will ring out during the service, the first time it will have been heard at a royal occasion.

Speaking beforehand, The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said delivering today’s sermon is a “slightly terrifying gig”.

He had to step in after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, contracted Covid and was forced to pull out.

Royal fans gathered outside St Paul’s Cathedral ahead of today’s service of thanksgiving (Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Archbishop Cottrell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Although this is a slightly terrifying gig I’ve been offered at short notice, from my knowledge of the Queen and when I’ve been with her before, indeed when I’ve preached in church when she’s there, the one thing I’m very confident of is she wants to hear about the Christian faith which is what has motivated her and sustained her throughout her life, throughout her reign.

“So I am just treating it as another sermon. It is slightly terrifying but it is a great honour.”

Last night, the Queen symbolically led the lighting of more than 3,500 beacons across the UK, pressing the The Commonwealth of Nations Globe button to set off a chain of lights at Windsor Castle.

At Buckingham Palace, the Duke of Cambridge watched as the Tree of Trees sculpture was bathed in light.

Earlier in the day, she had thrilled crowds that packed out The Mall, making two appearances from Buckingham Palace’s balcony as she saluted the Household Division troops.

At 1pm, she joined working members of the Royal Family on the balcony once more as a six-minute Armed Forces flypass soared overhead.

But Prince Louis stole the show, delighting the public with a smile before covering his ears when the noise of the flypast became too much.

Wellwishers assembled from early morning ahead of today’s ceremony (Photo: Reuters/ Dylan Martinez)

The Queen – accompanied by Charles and Camilla to her immediate right and Prince William, Kate and their children to her left – watched the flyover of 70 military aircraft.

They were joined by Princess Anne and her husband Sir Timothy Lawrence, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their two children and the Duke and Duchess of Kent.

Following the thanksgiving service, the royal family is scheduled to attend a Guildhall reception hosted by the Lord Mayor at 12.25pm.

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