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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Pomp and pageantry on the Mall
The Queen's Gold State Coach heads to St. Paul's
Thousands gathered along the procession route

It was the most fleeting of glimpses, but still enough to raise a smile on the face of eight-year-old Christopher Eaton.

The young royal admirer had travelled from Liverpool with his family to take in this extended weekend of Jubilee celebrations in London.

The Gold State Coach
The Gold State Coach was built for George III
But with crowds thronging through the streets to witness the royal parade from Buckingham Palace to St Paul's Cathedral, all vantage points had long ago disappeared.

So Christopher, his mother Anne and grandmother Ronnie made the best of their circumstances.

Standing on a park bench in the courtyard of St Bride's Church, they strained to see over the heads of fellow onlookers and through the windows of a coffee shop that stood between them and the route of the parade.

"This is about the best place we've found," said Anne.

Moments later, the gold state coach, carrying Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh to a service of thanksgiving at St Paul's, flashed past their window of vision for a couple of seconds. But it was enough.

"I saw the coach but I didn't see the Queen," said Christopher, who never-the-less sported a wide grin of content.


It's something we are not going to see again for another 25 years, so we've come to make the best of it

Kevin Pearce of Torquay in Devon

"We'll see her later, when we go down to the palace," his mother chipped in.

The Eatons were one of many thousands of families who had turned out to witness the grand display of pageantry as it passed through the centre of the capital.

The crowd that lined the Mall reached 12-people deep by the time the procession set off from Buckingham Palace.

Many had set their alarms early to secure front-row places behind the railings.

Recently the Mall has been no stranger to pomp and ceremony - it was a focus for some of the state events that following the death of the Queen Mother in March.

But whereas those events were inevitably tinged with sorrow, the atmosphere on Tuesday morning was one of unbridled celebration.

A golden spectacle

Many were looking forward to witnessing first hand the Queen's gold state coach.

Measuring 24 feet in length and weighing some four tonnes, the ornately carved coach, which was commissioned by George III in 1760, is a spectacle in itself.

Eight specially trained horses are required to pull it, together with a driving crew of 13 men.

The coach was preceded by a vanguard of several less-grandiose horse-drawn carriages, carrying the likes of Princes William and Harry, the Duke of York, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

Children wait for the Queen's procession
People of all ages waited for a glimpse of the Queen
Flanked by members of the mounted police and Household Cavalry, the front end of the procession received rapturous applause.

But the biggest cheers were held back for the Queen herself.

As she and Prince Philip glided past, they were greeted by the crowd with whoops and shouts of delight.

Handheld Union Flags were raised and fluttered in a Mexican-wave-style ripple that marked the passing of the coach.

Children looked at their parents and excitedly pronounced: "I saw her! I saw the Queen!"

Young and old

But her admirers spanned the age spectrum.

Vera Morgan, 80, had travelled from Worthing, in West Sussex, to cheer on the procession with her friend Sybil Frostick.

A former Women's Royal Air Force volunteer, Vera has always been a loyal admirer of the monarchy.

"We've just travelled up this morning. We've come for the atmosphere," she said.

"It's wonderful to think that so many people are interested in our royal family, and I want it to stay that way."

On Monday night, parents Diane and Kevin Pearce from Torquay in Devon had enjoyed the Buckingham Palace pop concert with their daughter Kirstin, 12.

'We are royalists'

They had planned a week's holiday in London around the Jubilee celebrations and were on the Mall to see the procession in all its splendour.

"We are royalists," said Diane, who sported a Welsh flag alongside her "Union Jack."

"It's something we are not going to see again for another 25 years, so we've come to make the best of it," added Kevin.

Although the procession had passed, they were planning to stick around for the day to enjoy the carnival celebrations that will represent the climax of the Jubilee festivities.


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