London, Jun 4: Queen Elizabeth II today provided a temporary lift to Britain's economic gloom by leading a unique spectacle of a 1000-strong flotilla to celebrate 60 years of her reign but heavy rains played spoilsport to the finale of the diamond jubilee pageant.
The pageant and over 10,000 street parties organised across the country generated a wave of patriotism among large sections of the population, while some republicans protested against the monarchy, calling for an elected head of state.
Others preferred to holiday elsewhere during the extra days off work during the extended Diamond Jubilee weekend. Official sources said 1.2 million people had gathered along the Thames to witness the pageant.
Most of the scheduled events in the pageant passed off amidst dank grey weather, but it poured heavily towards the end as the rain-soaked members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra sang Land of Hope and Glory.
The scheduled finale of the pageant by a helicopter squadron was cancelled as the heavy rain brought to an end the unique spectacle on River Thames that has played a pivotal role in Britain's history over centuries.
Britain's famously fickle weather was evident as rains and dank grey weather gripped London and other parts of the country, but that did not deter royal enthusiasts camping overnight along the Thames to occupy vantage points.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall made a surprise appearance at a street party in Piccadilly, where nearly 1000 people had gathered to celebrate the occasion and sang the national anthem.
Many members of the royal family joined the pageantry celebrations, including Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, as they were cheered by hundreds thousands of flag-waving people along the river.
One of the smaller boats carried the India flag while other flew flags of various Commonwealth nations. London and the Thames had not seen such a collection of vessels for 350 years.
It was in 1662 that a similar event was held in honour of King Charles II and Queen Catherine of Braganza. A flamboyant musical event was held on the river in 1717 by King George I.
The event attracted a global audience as BBC and Sky news began live telecast of the event since the morning.
Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC: “One of the great things that a monarch brings and, particularly a royal family and her majesty the queen personally brings, is this sense of national unity and stability - someone who the whole country can identify with”.
Besides tourists arriving in London for the pageant,Diamond Jubilee celebrations were held in various Commonwealth countries, including 16 in which the Queen remains the head of state.
Holding placards with slogans such as ‘Citizens Not Subjects' and ‘Power to the People', activists of the anti-monarchy group Republic protested peacefully among the crowds gathered along the Thames.
Another Republic demonstration was organised near City Hall, calling for a democratically elected head of state, instead of a monarchy that is “expensive, unaccountable and a drag on our democratic process”.
Sixth in the pageant order was an Indian music group comprising 50 musicians from the Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band and Shree Muktajeevan Dhol Academy, who played a a mixture of traditional Indian melodies, Scottish tunes and Bollywood anthems on bagpipes and percussion.
The oldest boat in the flotilla was built in 1740, and one of the vessels taking part, the Amazon, also took part in Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, in 1897.
Besides the nearly a million-strong gathering along the River Thames, hundreds of thousands more watched proceedings on large viewing screens.