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Monday, June 4, 2012

Diamond Jubilee: Pop royalty to play for Queen

Sir Cliff Richard says he is always a little nervous when performing for the Queen

About 12,000 people are expected at Buckingham Palace later for a picnic ahead of a star-studded concert to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Sir Elton John are among the artists, and Madness will perform on the roof. 

The audience will comprise people who got tickets in a public ballot and those from charities with royal links. 

The show will end with Queen lighting one of about 4,500 beacons across the world marking her 60-year reign.

Beacons across the Commonwealth are being lit at 2200 local time, with Tonga in the South Pacific due to be the first country to ignite its tribute. 

Stars including Stevie Wonder have started their sound checks on the concert stage, which has been set up around the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace. 

Meanwhile, groups of people without tickets started arriving on The Mall nearby to watch the concert on big screens. They were only beaten to the best viewing spots by nearly 100 people who had set up tents overnight.

The event follows Sunday's spectacular River Thames pageant which attracted hundreds of thousands of rain-soaked people to watch the flotilla of 1,000 vessels as street parties took place across the country.

Picnic hampers for the guests arrived at the palace in the morning in a convoy of eight lorries after being assembled in Leicester overnight.

In the afternoon, the 10,000 ballot winners and 2,000 VIPs will enjoy the picnic created by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal and royal chef Mark Flanagan. 

Individual hampers handed out to each of the guests will contain tea-smoked Scottish salmon, chilled garden soup, a coronation chicken-inspired dish, and strawberry crumble made from fruit grown on the Queen's Sandringham estate.

There will also be cupcakes created by Fiona Cairns, who baked the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding cake, and cheese and biscuits. 

A union jack flag and plastic poncho, in case of rain, will also be included - but the forecast is for drier weather than on Sunday.

At Constitution Hill, picnic guests have started turning up to see if they can queue to enter the grounds but most are being told to return at 15:30 BST. 

John and Cheryl Barstow, from north Wales told the BBC: "We're delighted we got tickets. We thought we'd better get here in time if yesterday's crowds were anything to go by."

Thousands of people are also expected in central London later to watch the concert on the big screens, which are also located in St James's Park, Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square. 

The concert, which starts at 19:30 BST (18:30 GMT) and will be broadcast by the BBC, also includes Robbie Williams, Ed Sheeran, JLS, Kylie Minogue, Sir Tom Jones, Jessie J, Dame Shirley Bassey and Annie Lennox.

And it will feature a special song - sung by 200 people from around the Commonwealth - co-written for the occasion by Gary Barlow and Lord Lloyd Webber.

Motown legend Wonder has said: "It's an honour to celebrate the Queen. It's an honour to celebrate Great Britain. The time is overdue that I meet Her Majesty."

The official running order for the concert has not been confirmed but organisers are promising "surprises".

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will join the Queen at the concert.

An artist's impression of the stage, designed by architect Mark Fisher
At the Golden Jubilee concert in 2002 Queen guitarist Brian May played the National Anthem on the roof of Buckingham Palace - this year the concert will feature pop veterans Madness performing Our House.

After the musical tribute, the Queen will greet the crowds and she is scheduled to place a crystal glass diamond into a special pod, triggering the lighting of one of the last beacon in The Mall. 

Beacons will be lit throughout the evening in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

In the UK, beacons have been placed on historic landmarks, hill-top vantage points and famous mountains.

Beacons have also been placed on the battlements of the Tower of London, and at St James's Palace, Lambeth Palace, Windsor Castle, Sandringham, Balmoral and Holyroodhouse and on Hadrian's Wall.

And the highest peaks of the UK's four nations - Ben Nevis, Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Slieve Donard - will be lit up by teams from four charities.

The hotel in Kenya where the Queen was told in 1952 of her father George VI's death will also light a beacon. Tristan da Cunha, a British territory in the South Atlantic, is the location for the most remote lighting.

The evening will end with a firework display.
See all the latest Diamond Jubilee news and features at bbc.co.uk/diamondjubilee

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18320373

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