Queen to lead lighting of the principal Jubilee beacon in special ceremony

The Queen is to symbolically lead the lighting of the principal Jubilee beacon as part of a chain of more than 3,500 flaming tributes to her 70-year reign.Buckingham Palace announced the monarch, 96, will make an extra Jubilee appearance at Windsor Castle late on Thursday evening.

What will this newly announced engagement involve?

The lighting of the beacon forms part of special dual ceremony with the Duke of Cambridge. William will be waiting 22 miles away at the Palace, where the beacon centrepiece – a 21-metre Tree of Trees sculpture – will be illuminated in lights on the Queen’s command.

The Commonwealth of Nations Globe – a blue globe, which sits inside a silver crown on a blue and gold cushion which was specially created for the Beacons project – will be placed on a podium by Yeoman Warders.

The Queen will touch the globe, symbolically triggering the lighting of the Tree of Trees beacon outside the Palace. Lights will chase along the Quadrangle towards Windsor’s famous Round Tower, before travelling up the Tree of Trees in London.

Beacons will be lit throughout the UK and across the Commonwealth, and sites including the Tower of London, Windsor Great Park, Hillsborough Castle and the Queen’s estates of Sandringham and Balmoral, and on top of the UK’s four highest peaks. The first beacons will be lit in Tonga and Samoa in the South Pacific, and the final one in the central American country of Belize.

What will the Queen do over the rest of the bank holiday?

The newly-announced engagement is an additional entry to the Queen’s busy diary over the four-day weekend.

The commemorations kick-start with the traditional Trooping the Colour military spectacle on Thursday, involving more than 1,500 officers and soldiers and 350 horses from the Household Division. But amid her ongoing mobility problems, the Queen’s attendance is only likely to be confirmed on the morning. Royal fans hope to see her appear on the balcony with her family for a special flypast, and possibly even review the troops.

Listen to the ITV News Royal Rota podcast

There will be no ceremonial journey to the service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Queen on Friday June 3, and the monarch, if she attends, will use a different entrance rather than scaling the steep steps.

Prince Andrew, who was pictured out riding on Wednesday, is likely to attend the St Paul's service. However, he is unlikely to attend any other events over the long weekend.

The Queen’s planned visit to Epsom for the Derby on Saturday is off, with members of the royal family attending on her behalf.

Prince Andrew was spotted out riding on Wednesday ahead of the Jubilee bank holiday weekend.

Saturday is also the first birthday of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s daughter Lilibet.

Royal commentators have speculated the Queen will get to meet her namesake for the first time and possibly attend her christening when Harry and Meghan fly back for the Jubilee. In the evening, the BBC’s Party at the Palace – set on three stages in front of Buckingham Palace – will entertain a live crowd of 22,000 people and a television audience of millions. The line-up includes Diana Ross, Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys, Nile Rodgers, Andrea Bocelli, Duran Duran, Bond composer Hans Zimmer, Ella Eyre, Craig David, Mabel, Elbow and George Ezra.

Diana Ross, Queen and Adam Lambert are among the acts due to perform in honour of the Queen on Saturday.

Charles and William are preparing to deliver public tributes at the concert to the Queen, who is due to be watching on television from Windsor. On Sunday, millions will gather for patriotic street parties, picnics and barbecues, with more than 85,000 Big Jubilee Lunches being held across the UK. The finale is the Jubilee Pageant through the streets of London, with a cast of 6,000 performers and close to 200 celebrities joining the carnival procession. It is hoped the monarch will make a final appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony to round off the weekend to see Ed Sheeran singing the national anthem with a choir made up of Britain’s “national treasures”.