Sunday, 13 May 2012

0 The Queen and celebrities have celebrated her Diamond Jubilee

IT WAS like a big overseas tour with all the boring bits taken out. Last night the Queen sat down to a multi-national show which captured the flavour of a lifetime of foreign visits without the speeches, banquets and factory visits - and which was dominated by horses.

The first big official celebration to mark the Queen's 60 years on the throne, the Diamond Jubilee Pageant at the Windsor Horse Show, with the floodlit castle as a backdrop, was designed to please an 86-year-old great-grandmother who has loved horses since she was a little girl.

The Queen and celebrities have celebrated her Diamond Jubilee

In the space of 90 minutes, 556 horses performed for the Queen: Arab thoroughbreds and Shetland ponies, cavalry and rodeo horses, Australian and Indian horses.

There was a large contingent from Oman and a few from Azerbaijan, right. In front of a stage designed as a mock-up of the front of Buckingham Palace, horses danced, charged at each other, and lay down on command.

Rolf Harris was one of the headline acts on the last night of the Pageant. Others included Susan Boyle and Il Divo. One of the narrators was Dame Helen Mirren, who in 2007 won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role as the woman watching her from the Royal Box.

Other performers included the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who later this month will have the unprecedented honour of guarding the Sovereign at Horse Guards, taking over for the day from the Household Cavalry. The RCMP hold a special place in the Queen's affections. Burmese, one of her favourite horses and a regular at Trooping the Colour until 1986, was a gift from them in 1969.

Last night the Mounties, who include several women, put on their Musical Ride - 32 horses bearing riders with 2m lances performing intricate manoeuvres including a cavalry charge. From Oman, the Sultan sent 110 members of his Royal Cavalry, one of whose tricks involved riders getting their mounts to lie down to order.

The Queen was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh - who had earlier competed in the carriage driving at the three-day horse show - and the Duchess of Cornwall. The Duchess is Patron of the Marwari Horse Society which represents the horses from India which have distinctive inward-turning ears.

There were also 1,000 musicians, dancers and singers, including the Watoto Children's Choir from Uganda, the violinist David Garrett, the Nashville singer Abigail Washburn, the Indian folk musician Raghu Dixit and South African performers from the West End show The Lion King.

Narrators included Alan Titchmarsh, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Omid Djalili and Martin Clunes. A short distance away at the Cowarth Park Polo Club, Ascot, the Duchess of Cambridge, with dog Lupo, watched the Audi Polo Challenge match in which her husband the Duke and Prince Harry were playing.


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