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The Queen makes first appearance of her Diamond Jubilee weekend celebrations at Epsom Racecourse in Royal blue in front of 130,000 spectators

david kingstrom By david kingstrom | June 03, 2012 | United Kingdom

The Queen was today greeted by cheering crowds as she made her first appearance of her Diamond Jubilee four-day-long weekend of celebrations at Epsom racecourse

Wearing a regal Royal blue coat with matching hat over a white floral gown, Queen Elizabeth smiled and waved as hundreds of thousands of race-goers flew flags and shouted messages of support from the course sidelines covered in bunting.

The Queen and Prince Philip were joined by a large party which included the Duke of York and his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie and the monarch's racing manager John Warren.   Her arrival marks a fitting start to the four-day Bank  Holiday weekend celebration of  her 60 years on the throne as she is a passionate horse breeder and racer.     The Queen visits Epsom Downs Racecourse every year to watch some of the world's best thoroughbreds compete in the Derby. Around 130,000 spectators were eagerly awaiting her arrival at the racecourse which sold out all its main stands.    Taking her place in the royal box, the Queen got ready for an afternoon of watching the races - but she will not bet a penny as she does not  gamble.   Unlike last year's race the Queen does not have a horse entered in the Derby or the other six featured races. But she will be presenting the winning prizes in the renamed Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup.   The royals were treated to an aerial display by members of the British Army's Red Devils parachute team before the main event - the racing.

Welsh singing star Katherine Jenkins, wearing a stunning cream gown by Suzanne Neville showing off her slender figure, then performed the national anthem shortly after the Queen's arrival.    Following her rendition of the National Anthem, Katherine - who recently competed on Dancing With The Stars - admitted that she was having an 'amazing' day.         She said: 'It’s incredible. I’ve been out of  the country for three months, so to come back and do this is great.'   Speaking about how it felt to perform in front of the Queen, Katherine said: 'For me it’s such a huge honour. It’s the first time that the National Anthem has been sung during these celebrations and I would never have hesitated. I would have sung to her in the rain.'

Since she was a very  young child the Queen has been immersed in all things equestrian. Her passion for horses includes breeding and racing thoroughbreds and she attends the Derby privately each year, but it is the only Classic she has yet to win.    In 2011 her colt Carlton House was the favourite and royals including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry gathered to cheer the horse on. However the Queen's hopes were dashed when it came third, beaten by the French-trained Pour Moi. She last came closest to winning the Derby in her Coronation year in 1953 when Aureole was second.     The last reigning monarch to own a Derby winner was her great-grandfather King Edward VII with Minoru in 1909. The Queen, who is exceptionally knowledgeable about thoroughbreds and their breeding, will study the form carefully for her date at the Derby .

She may have celebrated her 86th birthday last April, but she still rides herself. As a child, her first reported lesson took place in the private riding school at Buckingham Palace Mews in January 1930, when she was only three years old.    She was also taken by her parents to the Beckhampton stables on the Wiltshire Downs where horses bred at the royal studs were trained, to the royal stud at Hampton Court, and to see horses in training  at Newmarket.   She received the filly Astrakhan as a wedding present from the Aga Khan and in 1949 acquired her own Princess racing colours of scarlet, purple hooped sleeves and black cap, when she and her mother jointly bought the steeplechaser Monaveen.                                                              When she acceded to throne in 1952, she inherited the royal colours - purple, gold braid, scarlet sleeves, black velvet cap with gold fringe.    In 1954, the Queen's horses, including Aureole, were so successful that she was the leading winner-owner.     Former jockey Willie Carson will be guest of honour over the two day 2012 Investec Derby Festival at Epsom Downs, Surrey. In 1977, Silver Jubilee year, Carson, in the Queen's colours, won the Oaks at Epsom on her filly Dunfermline.      Carson said: 'Winning the Oaks at Epsom for Her Majesty in her Silver Jubilee year was very special. I am honoured to be invited back as the guest of honour at the 2012 Investec Derby, especially for such an important year, celebrating the Diamond Jubilee, which will be a fabulous opening event of weekend celebrations.'      The Diamond Jubilee festivities officially began today with a 41-gun salute fired by the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery at Horse Guards Parade in central London.                                 

 The extended Bank Holiday weekend will then feature a majestic River Thames pageant on Sunday, the following day pop music legends will entertain the royals and Jubilee beacons will light up hilltops across the country.

A St Paul's Cathedral a service of thanksgiving is the highlight of Tuesday which ends with the Queen standing on Buckingham Palace's balcony greeting the tens of thousands expected to fill The Mall.

Prime Minister David Cameron, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and other senior royals will join prominent individuals from the UK and abroad at many of the events.    Mr Cameron, interviewed by Sky News, has paid tribute to the Queen: 'What I see in Her Majesty is someone, in spite of the fact she's been on the throne for 60 years, in spite of the fact that she and Prince Philip are now relatively elderly, there is an extraordinary level of physical energy, mental energy, and above all devotion to her people, to the institutions of this country, to the way our democracy works.'

  • Tags:   Queen Diamond Jubilee Epsom Racecourse Royal Elizabeth II flags Prince Philip Duke of York British Army's Red Devils parachute team Katherine Jenkins star horses Derby St Paul's Cathedral Buckingham Palace's Prime Minister David Cameron
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