Hundreds of enthusiastic royal-watchers have descended on London, where four days of festivities are getting underway to honour the Queen's ascension to the British throne 60 years ago.
Celebrations back home have been less concentrated and more muted, with a series of smaller community events taking place over the course of the calendar year. The closest Canada came to replicating the pageantry of the British festivities was a whirlwind four-day visit by the Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, who made high-profile appearances in three provinces late last month.
Canadians who have journeyed to the heart of the action, however, have a much more elaborate show in store. Riverside processions, concerts featuring luminaries of the British music scene, fireworks and carriage rides await all those who care to join in what's only the second diamond jubilee in British history.
Cian Horrobin said the significance of the event was reason enough for him to make the journey from Toronto.
Horrobin, who's leading a trip sponsored by the Monarchist League of Canada, said his 50 fellow travellers are keen to acknowledge the Queen's contributions in their own small way.
"After 60 years of dedicated service, it should be taken as a given that . . . Canadians would go to her in numbers that exceed the 50 that are in this group," Horrobin said in a telephone interview. "For us to be here seems only appropriate considering how often she's come to us."
Horrobin's delegation will engage in some sightseeing before throwing themselves into the jubilee festivities, which begin in earnest on Sunday.
Horrobin and his group will attend a lunch hosted at Canada House before settling in on the banks of the Thames River to watch a floating procession. More than 1,000 boats, led by a royal barge bearing the Queen, are expected to float down the river through the course of the day.
Horrobin said he'd be up bright and early Monday morning to stake out a position at Buckingham Palace, scene of that day's special events. Horrobin said he's eager to take in the ceremony at which hundreds of beacons will be lit in honour of the occasion, as well as the concert featuring such stars as Paul McCartney, Elton John and Annie Lennox. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will also be in attendance.
"Some of us are going to try to pull a 48-hour stint on the ground in front of Buckingham Palace, so wish us luck," he said.
Tuesday's festivities include a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral, followed by an official carriage procession through the city featuring the Queen and Prince Phillip. Celebrations will culminate with the entire royal family appearing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for a 60-gun salute and a flyby by the Royal Airforce.
Eleanor Busing hopes to be on hand for at least some of the official pomp and circumstance. The 28-year-old, who hails from Ottawa but now calls London home, said she's been eager to honour the Queen's reign since witnessing the 50th anniversary celebrations.
"I remember watching the last jubilee on TV and I was just obsessed. I remember thinking, 'oh, that looks fun, I'd love to be there,'" the self-proclaimed royal enthusiast said. "That's why I thought this weekend I've got to do at least a couple of things to celebrate."
Even if crowds prove too daunting, Busing said she's found another way to indulge her love of all-things royal. She and her roommate will be hosting a jubilee party _ a private, scaled-down version of the street parties expected to spring up around the British capital _ which will feature pimm's, scones and other homemade English delicacies.
Busing said Canadians taking part in the jubilee festivities will have the chance to enjoy a uniquely British experience, adding the popularity of the royals speaks volumes about attitudes toward the institution.
"British people think of the royals with a sense of ownership and a whole lot of fondness," she said.
Horrobin says she believes that appreciation is shared by many Canadians, many of whom are looking forward to indulging both their interest in history and their sentimental attachment to the Queen from the same front row seat.
"There are a lot of people who are specifically looking forward to the pageantry of everything," he said. "Admittedly those are the types of things that happen once in a lifetime."Suggest a correction