Diamond Jubilee: Flag-waving, bunting and street parties from Padstow to Polynesia


Liam O'Brien
Monday 04 June 2012 11:58 BST

From Thurso to Truro, communities came together yesterday in a riot of bunting and Union Flags despite the rain and overcast skies. An estimated six million people sat down to tens of thousands of jubilee-themed lunches across the UK, with 10,000 alone partying in Greenwich.

The lottery-funded Big Jubilee Lunches, which aimed to bring neighbourhoods together, were also held in Islamabad, Delhi, Durban and even on the Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu.

Heavy rain failed to dampen spirits at a jubilee lunch in Leeds city centre while Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham and Edinburgh saw thousands attend similar events.

Two Thameside villages made a bid for the longest street party. Goring and Streatley, separated by the river and in two different counties, joined together in spectacular style to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee with 465 trestle tables spanning the two high streets and the river bridge.

Ron Bridle, who is on a committee that had been planning the celebrations since last July, said: "It's been absolutely wonderful. It was disappointing to have wet weather, but it's brought out the British spirit."

In Goudhurst, Kent, schoolchildren recreated the Thames River Pageant with a flotilla of small wooden boats on a village pond. Villagers decorated 300 tiny boats and floated them on the pond against the backdrop of an intricate model of the Houses of Parliament.

Meanwhile in Winchester, they were partying in earnest. Yesterday, Winchester City Council closed 16 roads for street celebrations, with a total of 54 over the weekend, in keeping with its reputation as the most royalist town in the country. With its population of around 40,000, that means one party for every 740 people. Thousands crowded the Broadway and Guildhall yesterday where residents dined at a 140-seater banquet table for the "Jubilate".

It was recently claimed that on average, hosts would shell out £83 for their parties. The total expenditure here clearly dwarfed that lowly figure.

Vickie Robinson, 39, wearing a Union Flag bow and scarf, said her family had celebrated with a jubilee-themed event every day since Thursday.

"It makes me quite emotional. The children are really into it, it's important that they remember," she said.

Janet Howell, 65, said nothing less could be expected of Winchester, where people can live a "quintessentially English existence", going on to claim that Her Majesty had been "a surrogate mother to a lot of us".

Not all plain sailing: the other side of the Jubilee

* Several train companies including South West trains, Greater Anglia and First Capital Connect were accused of derailing the celebrations by running restricted Sunday services, causing delays and overcrowded carriages.

* Sky News' coverage of the pageant was widely regarded as superior to the BBC's, which irked viewers with frequent cuts to tenuous features and interviews. Actor Stephen Fry derided the Beeb's coverage on Twitter as "eggier and cheesier than a collapsed soufflé". But Sky presenter Adam Boulton endured his own cyber-ridicule – for his bright pink jacket.

* The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall made a surprise appearance at a Jubilee street lunch in Piccadilly.

* Iranian state TV took a negative slant on proceedings, reporting that London had seen the "biggest republican protest in living memory".

* Downing Street made another U-turn, by deciding to hold its Jubilee street party indoors due to the weather. The PM insisted it was a "great Big Society occasion".

* Undeterred by the lack of a waterway, Leicestershire pub landlord Andrew Southerden allowed revellers to feel part of the regatta – by converting his establishment into a ship.

* German designer Karl Lagerfeld tweeted that Princess Kate has "a bottom as lovely as her sister's".

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