Queen lights first jubilee beacon and sends spark of light around the globe

Royal Editor Chris Ship rounds up Day One of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

The Queen has symbolically led the lighting of the principal Platinum Jubilee beacon in a spectacular end to the first day of historic national commemorations celebrating her 70-year-reign. The monarch’s late-night appearance at Windsor Castle rounded off the start to joyful festivities which saw the Queen take to the Buckingham Palace balcony surrounded by her family.

But it was also announced the head of state would miss a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on Friday after experiencing “discomfort” during Thursday’s earlier events.

Meanwhile, the Duke of Cambridge was at Buckingham Palace on Thursday night to play his part in the dual ceremony, lighting another beacon in London.

The principal beacon is the 69ft tall Tree of Trees sculpture, featuring 350 British-grown trees, which towers over the palace.

Created by British designer Thomas Heatherwick, the living creation reflects the planting of more than a million jubilee trees as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) initiative to mark 70 years of the monarch’s reign, and is illuminated with 3,500 festoon lights.

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Earlier on Thursday, the monarch took centre stage at the historic celebrations, greeting crowds from the Buckingham Palace balcony, surrounded by her family. Huge cheers erupted from thousands of well-wishers packed on to The Mall in central London as the monarch emerged for the flypast after Trooping the Colour.

Wearing sunglasses, the 96-year-old sovereign looked joyful as she surveyed the patriotic scenes, giving broad smiles as she enjoyed the aircraft display.

The Queen at Buckingham Palace earlier on Thursday, when she experienced 'great discomfort'.

Eighteen royals including the Queen stepped out to watch the high-profile flypast, with the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis flanking the monarch.

The Queen leaned over to chat animatedly with four-year-old great-grandson Louis, who at one stage covered his ears, and reacted with his mouth wide open and eyes tightly shut as the aircraft thundered overhead.