Ten million people gathered in streets up and down Britain on Sunday in the culmination of four days' national celebration for Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee.
Roars from cheering crowds resounded in front of Buckingham Palace when the queen made a surprise appearance on the balcony, after fears that her health would preclude her from the jubilee finale.
Smiling and wearing a bright green dress, the queen waved at the crowds while joined by Prince Charles, Prince William and other British royals.
The celebration of her 70-year reign has been marked by concerts, parades, fly-pasts, church services and, at times, glorious weather.
The murky skies of Sunday morning held off from raining on the parades below and eventually gave way to glimpses of sunshine as a three-kilometre carnival danced its way down London’s Mall.
Foremost was the 260-year-old Gold State Coach, which carried to the queen to her coronation on June 2, 1953, after she acceded the throne on the death of her father King George VI in February 1952.
In act one of the festival, called For Queen and Country, almost 2,000 service personnel, including 200 horses and 767 flags, marked one of the largest military spectacles in modern British history.
Across the UK, people in villages, towns and cities shut their high streets, laid out rows of trestle tables, and tucked into traditional British fare.
Jubilee pork pies were spread out on tables containing sausage rolls, coronation chicken sandwiches and bottles of champagne.
Union Jack flags and bunting hung from shop windows and homes across the country as Britons paid tribute to the historic reign of the queen. The 96-year-old is the longest-reigning British monarch.
In the Lancashire seaside town of Morecombe, residents broke a world record by setting up 500 trestle tables along their 2,600-metre promenade to host 5,000 people for a jubilee lunch.
In London, Prince Charles, who has taken on a significant number of his mother's tasks due to her age and health, attended a huge picnic at the Oval cricket ground with his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Prince Charles said he hoped “bickering” would not return after a feeling of “togetherness” across the nation over the jubilee weekend.
Sarah Friar, chief executive of neighbourhood app Nextdoor, sat opposite the prince. “He said at the end how great it was that everyone comes together this weekend,” she said.
Even England’s cricket team managed to mark the occasion by winning their first Test match in 13 attempts by beating New Zealand at Lord’s.
More than 600 lunches were held in honour of the queen throughout the Commonwealth and beyond, from Canada to Brazil, and New Zealand to Japan and South Africa.
During act two of the carnival, the parade explored seven decades of music, fashion, technology, trends, and culture from 1952 to 2022 in a segment called The Time of Our Lives.
Leading a group of 50 motorcyclists on the parade was Ukrainian-born priest, the Rev Sergiy Diduk, 48, from west London. He said he wanted to express his gratitude for the support Britain had shown his homeland. “Being part of this, I can say 'thank you',” he said.
The parade included 1950 jive dancers, Morris Minors, 1960s bands, JCB diggers, 1980s leotards, a life-size Pac-Man and a Rubik's cube. The models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell graced a double-decker bus celebrating Brit Pop.
They were joined by other British cultural icons, including Daleks, James Bond cars and Basil Brush, a glove puppet fox.
The third act was a play of 12 chapters called Let’s Celebrate, telling the story of the Queen's 70-year reign. Puppet Corgis joined a Bollywood take on Princess Elizabeth's wedding and an Afro-Caribbean carnival-style interpretation of the queen's 1953 coronation.
The parade was watched intently by members of the royal family, young and old. Prince Charles, who at times got to his feet to applaud, was joined by Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and their children sat waving at the procession of dancers and vehicles.
The carnival followed the military pageant of Trooping the Colour on Thursday, a church service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday and a large open-air concert at Buckingham Palace on Saturday, featuring musical acts such as Queen, Diana Ross, Duran Duran, Sir Elton John and Sir Rod Stewart.
However, the queen stole the show after an amusing, recorded performance with Paddington Bear revealing that she kept marmalade sandwiches in her handbag.
In the carnival’s final act on Sunday, Ed Sheeran performed in front of Buckingham Palace before the band of the Royal Marines played the national anthem in front of the queen.