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Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 22:55 GMT 23:55 UK
Fun and informality for Queen Mother
queen mum
Celebrating her 99th birthday last year
By BBC Royal Correspondent, Nicholas Witchell

The Queen Mother's 100th birthday is to be celebrated by a huge pageant in London.

Camels and corgis will take part in a spectacular parade, alongside military bands, a choir, an orchestra and thousands of people, which is being staged in her honour on the afternoon of 19 July.

The pageant, on Horseguards Parade in London, will be one of the three principal events which will mark the Queen Mother reaching her century.

The first will be a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral on 11 July, which will be attended by all the members of the Royal Family.

Then, on 19 July, Horseguards Parade will be the focus of attention.

Tradition

Finally, on her 100th birthday, on 4 August, the Queen Mother is expected to make her traditional appearance outside her London home, Clarence House.

But on this special occasion she will be taken by carriage up The Mall to Buckingham Palace where the Queen Mother is expected to make an appearance on the Palace balcony with her daughters, the Queen and Princess Margaret.


queen mum
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It will be an occasion which will stir memories of her role in World War II when, as wife of the then King, George VI, she appeared on the palace balcony on the night the nation celebrated Victory in Europe.

This year's Horseguards Pageant will have a strong military element, with representatives of all the regiments - from Britain and around the Commonwealth - of which the Queen Mother is Colonel-in-Chief.

Massed bands

There will also be massed military bands from the three British armed services (including her beloved pipes and drums) and from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

But the organisers say that alongside the pageantry they want the event to be fun and as informal as possible.

There will be representatives from the 320 charities and organisations with which the Queen Mother is connected, everything from the Battle of Britain Association, to the Mothers' Union and the Poultry Club of Great Britain.

Birthday cake

Apart from the massed military bands, there will be music from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the choir of St Paul's Cathedral: drama from the Chicken Shed Theatre Company, and a special presentation: "A Pageant of The Hundred Years" performed by a cast of 1,000 children, the climax of which will be the formation of what the organisers promise will be "the largest birthday cake ever".

The producer of the event, Major Mike Parker, said: "We want there to be a few surprises on the day."

Wellwishers beware. Most of the tickets to the Horseguards Pageant will be distributed to the charities taking part in it. There will only be room for 2,000 other spectators. BBC News will cover the event in full - and BBC News Online will have a special in-depth section on the Queen Mother's remarkable 100 years.

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See also:

23 Apr 00 | UK
Royal Easter parade
04 Sep 99 | Scotland
Queen Mother misses Highland Games
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