Beacons and rock concert to mark British queen's jubilee
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
LONDON, June 4:, 2012 (AFP) - A chain of more than 4,200 beacons began to flare across the globe Monday to mark Queen Elizabeth II´s diamond jubilee, with the last to be lit by the monarch at a star-studded concert at Buckingham Palace.
The first beacon to celebrate 60 years of the queen´s reign was set ablaze at Marlborough in New Zealand, followed by lightings at 10:00 pm local time in other Commonwealth countries.
The queen will light the final beacon in the chain at a spectacular evening concert in front of Buckingham Palace, with Elton John, Tom Jones, Paul McCartney, Shirley Bassey, and Stevie Wonder set to perform.
The musical extravaganza comes on the third of four days of celebrations to mark the jubilee, following a 1,000-boat pageant with the royal family on the River Thames on Sunday.
Elton John said he was "thrilled" to be performing, and hoped the jubilee would mark the "beginning of an incredible summer for Britain" ahead of the Olympic Games which open in London on July 27.
Organisers promise an "imaginative" use of the palace, with 1980s ska stars Madness booked to sing their hit song "Our House" from the roof.
But the focus of the 12,000-strong crowd and of the millions of television viewers worldwide will be on a circular stage around the Queen Victoria Memorial in front of the palace.
Other performers at the event, which will feature a charity single co-written for the occasion by Take That´s Gary Barlow and musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, include Jessie J, Robbie Williams and boy band JLS.
The organisers have refused to rule out that Prince Harry will play tambourine during a performance of the official song, called "Sing".
Before the concert, some 10,000 concert-goers who won tickets in a ballot will also attend a picnic in the grounds of Buckingham Palace overseen by Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal.
Their picnic hampers include tea-smoked Scottish salmon, a chilled "country garden" soup made with plum tomatoes, mint and cucumber, cheese and biscuits, cupcakes, and strawberry crumble crunch.
The kits also include plastic ponchos in case of rain -- which should not be needed as the gloomy weather is expected to clear up in time for the concert, though they would have come in handy during Sunday´s rain-sodden river pageant.
More than a million people braved the bad weather to see the water pageant move down the Thames through the heart of London, the main event in four days of festivities and the biggest spectacle on the river in 350 years.
The downpours failed to dampen the crowd´s spirits, and they cheered the 86-year-old monarch as she passed in a red-and-gold barge at the centre of a procession of craft ranging from kayaks to tugs.
Hilary and Keith Grant-Pierce, a retired couple from central England, said they had had a "splendid time" despite the weather, after camping out by the river since 5:30 am to get a good view of the pageant.
"If there´s one thing the British can do better than anyone else in the world, it´s pomp and ceremony," said Keith Grant-Pierce, 68.
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The queen, wearing a white hat and a silver and white coat and dress designed by Angela Kel