Queen vows to 'dedicate myself anew' after 60 years on throne
This was the front page of the Toronto Star from Feb. 6, 1952, when the news of King George V's death reverberated around the world. Young Princess Elizabeth, then 25, was in Kenya on an official visit. She promptly came home ... and her world changed forever.
The Queen marked the start of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations on Monday with a message to her subjects and the release of two official portraits by John Swannell (left).
"I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Phillip over these years and to tell you how deeply moved we have been to receive so many kind messages about the Diamond Jubilee," she wrote.
"In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope that we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign and which my family and I look forward to seeing in many forms as we travel throughout
the United Kingdom and the wider Commonwealth.
"I hope also that this Jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future with clear head and warm heart as we join together in our celebrations."
Photo gallery: 60 years on the throne
Photo gallery: Royal visits to Canada
Canada began its own celebration by awarding Diamond Jubilee medals for community service to 60 people at Rideau Hall. Among those were freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau, Terry Fox's brother Darrell and Brett Wilson of "Dragon's Den" fame (see complete list).
Later, more than 30 Ontarians were award Jubilee medals, including Gordon Lightfoot, David Cronenberg, Sandy Hawley, Peter Mansbridge and the Star's Haroon Siddiqui (see complete list).
The 85-year-old Elizabeth is the second longest-serving monarch behind Queen Victoria, who had 63 years on the throne.
Despite her age, the Queen maintains a rigorous schedule with hundreds of engagements a year. She will not be doing any foreign visits this year, but instead has dispatched her family to all corners of the Commonwealth. The next in line for her job, Prince Charles, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall will be in Canada.
The Queen has made more official visits to Canada (24) than any other Commonwealth nation during her reign, picking up where her father left off after his historic visit in 1939. You can trace some of that history in our gallery.
Sticking close to home, the Queen and the 90-year-old Prince Philip will tour the U.K. between her regular engagments. That included a few stops on Monday near her Sandringham residence, visiting the local city hall and going to a nursery school to watch a children's play about 60-year reign.
Here are some key dates around the Diamond Jubilee celebrations:
March 8: The Queen begins a tour of Britain with trips to Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
March 20: The Queen makes a special address to the British Parliament.
May 10, 11, 13: The Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Windsor showcases about 500 horses and close to a thousand people for a look at the Queen's journeys around the globe
June 2-5: It's an extra-long weekend for Britons to mark the Queen's coronation on June 2, 1953. Among the events is a giant flotilla down the River Thames. About a thousand boats, from barges to naval ships, will travel along the waterway, led by Queen and the rest of the Royal Family. On June 4, 2,012 beacons will be lit across the Commonwealth, beginning with Tonga and ending with one on the Mall outside Buckingham Palace.