Queen Elizabeth jubilee celebrations kick off with equestrian extravaganza


Soldiers ride in front of a picture of Queen Elizabeth II during the Diamond Jubilee Pageant in Windsor, England on May 10 2012. Celebrating the 60 year reign of Queen ELizabeth II, 1,200 performers and 550 horses take part in the show in the private grounds of Windsor Castle.


Leon Neal

Celebrations marking Queen Elizabeth of Britain's diamond jubilee have kicked off with a huge equestrian pageant held at Windsor Castle in the UK.

AFP reports that about 1,200 performers and 550 horses from 17 countries paid tribute to the Queen's 250-plus state visits in a show called "Around the World in 60 Years and 90 Minutes" performed in front of a 148-foot replica of London's Buckingham Palace.

The horse is the Queen's favorite animal, USA Today explains, adding that the animal will take center stage over the next four days of celebrations. 

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"They're part of our makeup, part of our history and culture, and they have served us so well for so very, very long," Annemarie Westwood, senior executive at the British Horse Society, is quoted as saying.

Windsor Castle has hosted a horse show every year for the last six decades, but this year's event is larger than usual and will include Mounties from Canada, Cossacks from Russia and cowboys and Lakota Sioux Indians from the US.

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The Australian describes how mounted police from the state of New South Wales performed a troops drill to Waltzing Matilda.

"We have a lot of pride that we got the invitation," Inspector Kirsten McFadden, the commander of the mainly-female unit, is quoted as saying.  "It's been a very hard week, long hours, but we're very, very excited. It's all color - every act is really special,"

The Telegraph says that the main celebrations marking Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on the throne will take place in June, but the next four days of celebrations will include a special performance on Sunday featuring singer Susan Boyle, actress Dame Helen Mirren and Australian performer Rolf Harris.