Jubilee Celebrations in London

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In the last year, London has seen more than its fair share of pomp and circumstance. There was the Queen’s 85th birthday in April 2011, followed closely by the much anticipated wedding of Prince William and Catherine, ongoing preparations for the 2012 Summer Olympics, and now Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.

Not even England’s infamous rain can dampen spirits in London these days: British pride is out in full force.

Despite threatening weather that turned to heavy downpours, more than 1 million people are estimated to have turned out this Sunday to watch the queen’s barge lead a 1,000-boat flotilla down the Thames. Sodden sleeping bags and crumpled ponchos along the river banks were evidence of Londoners’ determination to bear witness to the majesty of the monarchy, personal discomfort just a small price to pay to be part of royal history.

The celebrations continue today with a concert staged by a different sort of royalty: that of British pop. Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Cliff Richard and Sir Tom Jones — along with Dame Shirley Bassey, Stevie Wonder and younger artists including JLS, Kylie Minogue and Will.i.am – will be taking the stage outside Buckingham Palace to entertain massive crowds. The BBC is providing frantic live coverage of the event, tweeting incessantly (as I type) about what the Queen is wearing, who’s on stage, and which royals (nearly all of them) are in attendance. (One can only imagine the Queen is wearing a set of earplugs.)

With the feeling of pride and celebration lingering in the air, this summer will be a great time to visit Britain. And if crowds aren’t your thing, there’s no need to stick to London, where the Olympic Madness will no doubt be palpable. Our ToursByLocals guides can whisk you out of the city for glorious daytrips all over the English countryside, from Shakespeare’s home in the Cotswolds to the lovely medieval town of Rye to the Roman relics in Bath...and scores of other places. Rule Brittania!
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