Britain is celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II's reign which began on February 6, 1952 with the death of her father King George VI. At the time of her father's death the new queen was on holiday in Kenya at a remote wilderness retreat. A radio broadcast describing this moment in history is preserved here.
The young queen was hurried back to Britain. At right is the first photograph taken of her as Queen as he descends the stairs of the airplane which bore her back from Kenya to London.
On the ground to meet her was Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Sixty years later, the official Diamond Jubilee photograph is below. Full size image here. The Queen poses in front of the windows of the famous balcony where recently her grandson William and his bride Katherine greeted the world as newlyweds. The monument to the left is the Victoria Memorial built in honor of Queen Victoria who reigned for a record 63 years and 216 days. Will Elizabeth II eclipse that record?
More photos and information for the year long celebration at the official Diamond Jubilee web site.
Official photographs are important, but Queen Elizabeth always seems happiest when photographed amongst her people and especially with children as seen in this undated photograph:
UPDATE: 62 Gun Salute Marks Beginning of Jubilee
Across Britain on Monday cannons fired to mark the beginning of the Jubilee year. 62 guns were fired from the Tower of London and other Royal establishments fired 21 guns. The Daily Mail has the full story along with photos of the Queen's day.
More larger format photos at the Daily Mail.
Congratulations to all the British people and happy celebrations!