Queen wraps up jubilee without Philip

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AP

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, and her husband Prince Philip watching the proceedings from the royal barge during the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London.

London - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations but without her husband Prince Philip after he was admitted to hospital with a bladder infection.

The festivities conclude with a ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to Monday's spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace.

Prince Philip, who turns 91 on Sunday and has been a fixture at the queen's side during her 60-year reign, missed the musical extravaganza and will remain in hospital for several days.

“He is, understandably, disappointed about missing this evening's Diamond Jubilee Concert and tomorrow's engagements,” Buckingham Palace said on Monday.

The new health scare comes less than six months after the outspoken British royal patriarch suffered chest pains during the Christmas break and had to undergo a medical procedure to treat a blocked coronary artery.

Prince Philip, the longest serving royal consort in British history, appeared in good health on Sunday as he travelled on the royal barge in chilly conditions during a 1,000-boat river pageant for the jubilee.

But he was absent as the queen and several other members of the royal family attended Monday's colourful concert featuring a raft of top pop stars watched by hundreds of thousands of patriotic revellers.

Tuesday marks a return to pomp and pageantry as the queen attends a thanksgiving service at St Paul's Cathedral before returning to the palace in a carriage procession down The Mall.

The queen, Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Prince William and his wife Catherine will then appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony for Royal Air Force flypast.

The palace underwent an unprecedented makeover on Monday when it was turned into a giant screen, providing a spectacular backdrop for performances from some of pop music's biggest stars.

The monarch appeared on stage after the final set to light a ceremonial beacon, the centrepiece a chain of 4 200 spanning the Commonwealth, triggering a thunderous firework finale.

Moments earlier, her son and heir Prince Charles took centre stage to celebrate the “life and service of a very special person”, drawing cheers from the crowd as he paid tribute to his “mummy”.

Despite the informal good spirit of the occasion, the prince expressed regret over the absence of Prince Philip.

“The only sad thing about this evening is that my father cannot be here with us because unfortunately he's been taken unwell,” he said.

Charles urged the crowd to show their support, and they responded by a raising a huge roar and singing “Philip, Philip”.

Singer Robbie Williams kicked off the gala event and was followed by acts from throughout the queen's 60-year reign including ex-Beatle Paul McCartney Elton John, Kylie Minogue and Stevie Wonder.

The 86-year-old monarch, wearing a black and gold cape, arrived 90 minutes into the three-hour concert and was instantly greeted by cheers from a sea of revellers waving red, white and blue Union Flags.

Comedian Lee Mack, one of the comperes, told the crowd that 250 000 people had turned out to watch the concert directly or on big screens erected on The Mall, and Charles acknowledged the huge display of national pride.

“I was three when my grandfather king George VI died and suddenly, unexpectedly, your and my father's lives were irrevocably changed when you were only 26,” he told the queen as he spoke on stage.

“So as a nation this is our opportunity to thank you and my father for always being there for us, for inspiring us with your selfless duty and service and for making us proud to be British.”

Charles, his sons Princes William and Harry, other royals and special guests including Prime Minister David Cameron moved to the music in the royal box, then stood to attention when the queen arrived.

More than 10 000 people who won tickets in a ballot enjoyed a picnic in the Buckingham Palace gardens before the concert to mark only the second diamond jubilee in British history. - Sapa-AFP


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