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The BBC's Jennie Bond
"An occasion of great joy"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 19 July, 2000, 18:26 GMT 19:26 UK
Birthday pageant for Queen Mother
Queen Mother and Prince Charles
The Queen Mother arrives at the pageant with Prince Charles
The Queen Mother has been honoured in a special 100th birthday pageant, attended by members of the Royal Family, military regiments and scores of civilian organisations.

Cheers went up as a carriage brought Her Majesty, escorted by her eldest grandson Prince Charles, into Horse Guards Parade in London at 1700 BST.

The Queen Mother, who is colonel in chief of 19 British and Commonwealth regiments, insisted on standing for the royal salute of 7,000 troops.

At the end of the colourful hour-long pageant, dubbed a "people's tribute", the Queen Mother thanked all those who had attended, saying the parade had been "a great joy" to her.

The pageant featured an eclectic mix of marching bands, carnival floats, choirs, race horses, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, camels, dancers, Aberdeen Angus bulls, sheep and chickens - at times taking on the atmosphere of a country show.

Reflecting the century

More than 21,000 participants and spectators were at the parade, which was blessed with bright sunshine.

Jitterbugging couples, stars of Dad's Army, Sir Norman Wisdom, the first ever Mini car and a posse of uniform-clad Wombles all marched past in turn.
Norman Wisdom and Barbara Windsor
Sir Norman Wisdom and Barbara Windsor were there

Symbols of modern Britain included representations of the Dome and the Channel Tunnel, while two of the Queen Mother's beloved corgis also put in an appearance.

A total of 170 of the Queen Mother's 350 charities took part, all decked out in some wild and wonderful costumes.

Groups with which she has campaigned over the years included the Red Cross, St John Ambulance, Royal British Legion, Mothers' Union and Royal National Lifeboat Institute.

'Song' in sign language

In addition, 25 youngsters from the Royal School of Deaf Children "sang" in sign language.

A massed choir including singers from St Paul's Cathedral, Lloyds of London and the City, Christchurch and Magdalen Colleges at Oxford University and the Royal College of Music performed.

In her speech, the Queen Mother said she especially enjoyed the music, and hoped that everyone had enjoyed the parade.

"God bless you and thank you all," she said.

Princess Anne, Princess Margaret, the Duke of York and his two daughters were among the royals watching the lively festival from the royal box. But the Queen did not attend, apparently for fear of taking attention away from her mother.
The parade
Horse Guards Parade was packed

The sound of the military band was accompanied by a fly past by a Lancaster bomber, flanked by two Spitfires. They were followed by 10 Red Arrows which blazed a stream of red, white and blue clouds across the sky.

Several of the last living holders of the Victoria Cross and George Cross bravery awards paraded in open Rolls-Royces, some standing as they filed past Her Majesty.

Actor John Mills made a short speech from a vintage Rolls Royce.

Shower of rose petals

He sent the Queen Mother love and birthday wishes ahead of her 100th birthday on 4 August, before heralding the arrival of a "human" birthday cake.

Thirty children, dressed as pieces of cake, emerged from the 25ft-high "cake" and handed real cakes to the audience.

As thousands of voices joined in a final singing of Happy Birthday, a shower of a million rose petals was sprinkled over the Queen Mother.
Royal watcher Terry Hutt
Mad about Ma'am: Terry Hutt camped out for a place

The last gift of the day was a gigantic birthday card, signed by 8,000 parade participants.

Police were determined a spate of security alerts causing chaos across London would not disrupt the pageant.

A controlled explosion took place in Ealing, west London, after a coded warning, while police blew up a suspect bag in Whitehall just hours before the pageant along Horse Guards Parade.

Organisers said they were in no doubt the earlier bomb scares in London were an attempt to disrupt the day's pageant - but they had not succeeded.

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See also:

18 Jul 00 | Talking Point
Queen Mother: Your birthday tributes
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