Royal tour, fireworks and football at the palace to mark Golden Jubilee

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The Independent Online

A Royal tour of Britain, a festival in the Mall and the showing of World Cup matches on big screens outside Buckingham Palace were announced yesterday as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

Downing Street released the extensive itinerary amid claims that the 50th anniversary of the Queen's accession was failing to enthuse the public.

A programme of 50 events will begin with a dinner for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on 29 April, hosted by Mr Blair and past prime ministers at Number 10. The next day, for only the fifth time in her reign, she will address a joint session of the Houses of Parliament.

She will then embark on a 14-week tour beginning in Falmouth, Cornwall, and taking in all parts of the UK, including the Outer Hebrides. The Queen and the Duke will travel to most engagements by Royal Train to enable them to arrive in time for early-morning visits.

The Queen's engagements will include taking the salute at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, attending the Chelsea Flower Show, visits to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, a dinner for members of European royal families at Windsor Castle, and garden parties at Buckingham Palace, Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle. The Queen will also open and close the Commonwealth Games, which begin in Manchester on 25 July.

During the Golden Jubilee bank holiday weekend, from 1 June to 4 June, classical and pop concerts will be staged in Buckingham Palace's gardens. The pop show will be televised worldwide and shown on giant screens outside the palace. England's World Cup football matches will also be shown there. On 3 June, the Queen will light a national beacon in the Mall and view a fireworks display. The next day the royal couple will attend the Golden Jubilee Festival in the Mall and the Royal Air Force will stage a fly-past at the palace.

Organisers hope that the pageantry in central London will be complemented by street parties around the country.

In a written Commons answer, Mr Blair said he welcomed the opportunity "on behalf of the whole nation to offer the warmest congratulations to the Queen" and to "express gratitude for half a century of devoted service to the people of the United Kingdom". Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "It's a seriously intensive programme."

He denied preparations for local celebrations had been hit by public apathy, saying plans were further advanced than at the same stage of the 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations. He said the jubilee office had received about 1,500 proposals for events from the public.

Security would not be allowed to spoil the events, royal sources said. "No terrorist organisation is going to put the kibosh on this," said one.

The Queen will visit Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia next month, and Canada in October.