A banner fit to lead the Queen's Jubilee armada

The royal banner designed by Ann Carrington Credit: Colin Baldwin/PA Wire

The lavish banner that will adorn the Queen's royal barge as part of her Diamond Jubilee is being unveiled today.

Ten square feet of plush red velvet are speckled with more half a million gold-coloured buttons forming the shape of a specially-altered royal crest.

Each one of the buttons was hand-sewn on to the fabric by the banner's designer Ann Carrington and her team.

The design is based on the royal coat of arms and features a lion and unicorn and the royal motto "Dieu et mon droit" - God and my right - but the central shield has been replaced with a crown.

The names of past monarchs and the dates of their coronations will be sewn around the edge of the banner.

In using gold buttons, Carrington is echoing the traditions of London's pearly kings and queens who, it is claimed, began decorating their clothes with pearl buttons after a Japanese ship carrying the items foundered in the Thames.

The banner will hang at the stern of the royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, as it travels down the River Thames surrounded by a 1,000 other vessels on Sunday June 3.

The thrones that will be used by the Queen and Duke are nearing completion and also feature rich red-coloured cloth.

Thrones being upholstered for the Royal Barge Credit: Roger Cannon/PA Wire

But perhaps most importantly, the Queen's official diamond jubilee cake is also nearing completion.

Instructors from the Defence Food Services School near Winchester in Hampshire have spent more than 500 hours crafting the 154lb cake in secrecy.

It will be presented to the Queen on Saturday at the Diamond Jubilee Parade and Muster at Windsor Castle.

Paul Farrant and Craft Director Andrew Jones place the final touched to the Queen's cake Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

The tiered cake has been designed to reflect the themes of the Silver, Gold and Diamond Jubilees as well as the contributions of all three services.

It is topped off with a crown crafted entirely from sugar.

Details of the crown for the Diamond Jubilee cake Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire