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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Friendly stars fall on Slough
Children singing
The festivities have a strong musical theme

The stars came out during the day in Slough when the Queen paid a visit as part of her Jubilee celebrations.

For the town known as the target of jokes, either from John Betjeman or BBC Two's comedy The Office, it was a day to shine as the Queen listened to a choir of schoolchildren singing in her honour.

Slough's egg and solar system
Slough's egg and solar system
A vast egg decorated with dragons and snakes burst open before her, sending twinkling confetti into the air to form glittering constellations.

From within the egg lifted a brightly coloured model of the solar system which revolved around a mirror-ball sun.

For the theme of Monday's celebrations was "stars over Slough", in honour of its favourite son, the 18th Century astronomer Sir William Herschel who described the form of our galaxy.

Excitement builds

By mid-morning - several hours before the Queen was due to arrive - a gathering tide of people made their way towards the town centre.

A palpable air of expectation filled the crowd lining the High Street, although some did their best to deny it.

Emerald clad monarch
"She was smiling all the time"
"If I see anyone from school here, I'm letting go of this balloon," warned a passing 11-year-old, his rising voice betraying his excitement.

To pass the time until the Queen arrived from Windsor, proud parents inspected the winning entries in a royal portrait competition displayed in a department store window.

Some of the pre-teen artists appeared to have taken a lead from the royal portraitist Lucian Freud, painting a Queen heavy of brow and dour of countenance; while others mixed jubilee imagery with that of the World Cup, depicting Her Majesty in David Beckham's football shirt.

From around the blocks floated the strains of the 250-strong choir running through a rehearsal of All You Need is Love, the song that would ring out from Slough across the land to launch BBC Music Live.

Rain not far away

But the buzz really started when the Queen arrived shortly after 1230BST to meet and greet community leaders and volunteer groups, watched by thousands lining the High Street.

Rain
The rain arrived just as the Queen took her seat
Even the latecomers unable to see over the massed heads in front could chart her progress by the increasing volume of cheers.

As she arrived in the town square, so too did the rain, but the fat drops falling from the sky failed to dampen spirits.

Novelty Union flag hats bumped up against turbans and England caps as the assembled throng strained to catch a glimpse of the emerald-clad monarch.

Shutterbugs unable to set the Queen in their sights handed precious cameras to the youngsters perched on their shoulders.

Dancing in the street

As the final chorus of All you Need is Love faded from both the Slough choir and those featured in the live feeds from around the UK, the Queen thanked those taking part.

Windsor child
Earlier in Windsor up to 16,000 people turned out
"She's not stopped smiling since she got here," said Sally Jackson, 15, who excitedly phoned a friend to report that the Queen had looked at her.

As the Royal party departed for London, the drummers and stilt walkers moved in to entertain the crowds.

The guest of honour may have left, but the party had only just begun.


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