During the reign of Britain's Queen Victoria, it was said that the sun never set on the British Empire, which stretched from Canada to Africa to India. That may no longer be the case, but as Queen Elizabeth II entered her 60th year in power in 2012, an event known as the Diamond Jubilee, and which has not occurred since Victoria's rule, the country was ready to prove that it can party just as hard as it did in 1897.
To drive that point home, Queen Elizabeth has spent the last five months touring Britain, while members of the royal family have spread out around the globe to visit members of the Commonwealth (comprised of countries that were formerly part of the British Empire). This weekend -- known as the Central Weekend -- will see a tour de force of royal romping, as Her Royal Highness embarks down the Thames on a specially constructed Royal Barge through a collection of 1,000 boats from throughout the Commonwealth. Later, 2,012 beacons will be lit throughout the Commonwealth countries. And of course, there will be plenty of big dresses, bigger hats, and garden parties aplenty as the queen celebrates her more than half a century on the throne. Here. we look at some of the highlights from the buildup to her special day.
Above, a portait of the queen by artist Chris Levine is displayed on May 28 in London. The portrait incorporates a jeweled diadem that was created by the jewelery firm Asprey in conjunction with the artist as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The diadem includes 1,000 white brilliant-cut diamonds, and is a recreation of the original worn by Queen Elizabeth II for her coronation in 1953.
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