Thousands braved the rain and chill in Londonon Monday to help Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip commemorate 60 years of marriage— the longest union of any reigning British monarch.


Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip walk down the aisle in Westminster Abbey in London on Monday to attend a service of celebration to mark their diamond wedding anniversary. ((Alastair Grant/Associated Press))

"Today was a day that really put the trials and tribulations of the House of Windsor into context because, despite all the divorces, despite all the scandals and all the tabloid headlines we've seen over the years, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have managed something that no other British monarch has — a 60th-wedding anniversary," the CBC's Harry Forestell reported from London.

On their diamond anniversary, the couple retraced their steps at the famous Westminster Abbey where they married on Nov. 20, 1947.

More than 2,000 people— including their children and grandchildren — were in attendance for the historic event. Notable guests included playwright Tom Stoppard and Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi Dench, who delivered a poem composed by poet laureate Andrew Motion for the occasion.

The drizzle was reminiscent of the couple's wedding day in 1947,just two years after the end ofthe Second World War.The rainy service symbolized a grim period in England's history, marked by six years of war followed by another two years of attempted economic and social recovery. Rationing was so bad that thethen Princess Elizabeth used 200 ration tickets, some of them donated by patriots from around the country, to buy her wedding dress.


Queen Elizabeth listens to Prince Philip during the service at Westminster Abbey. ((Alastair Grant/Associated Press))

"They had to show that they were being as austere as their countrymen were," Forestell said.

"The two kneelers that Princess Elizabeth and her husband knelt on during the wedding ceremony, they found out in later years the kneelers were made of orange crates that had been covered in rose-coloured silk."

In honour of Monday's event, Buckingham Palace published 60 facts about the wedding on its website. The couple received more than 2,500 gifts from around the world and 10,000 white seed pearls were sewn into the wedding dress by a team of embroiderers.

According to Stuart Neil, the Queen's deputy press secretary, Canadians had a few gifts of their own to offer thecouple:

  • Ahandwoven woollen coat, from Nova Scotia.
  • Twenty-fourGeorgian silver dinner plates engraved with the Royal coat of arms, made by David and Robert Hennell.
  • Atwo-handed silver loving cup, made by Paul de Lamaire.
  • Three five-light candelabras.
  • Six candles.

Governor General Michaëlle Jean, the Queen's representative in Canada, congratulated the couple in a statement Monday that recognized the ties between Canada and the Royal Family.

"Canadians are proud of the strong ties we share with the Royal Family. Our nations have faced triumph and tragedy together, standing shoulder-to-shoulder against adversaries and rejoicing in celebrations both grand and small," Jean said. "Many aspects of our institutions and traditions are richly interwoven, and our common values are reflected in our Commonwealth partnership."

"This impressive milestone in the history of the Royal Family sets a wonderful example for Canadians and Britons alike. Your Majesty, we wish you and His Royal Highness the very best on this day of celebration."

The couple will continue their anniversary celebration in Malta this week, where they lived when Prince Philip was serving as a Royal Navy officer.

With files from the Associated Press