The Queen has thanked all those involved in marking her 70th year on the throne as the Platinum Jubilee weekend begins.
Across the country, millions are preparing for street parties to celebrate the 96-year-old becoming the UK’s longest-serving monarch over the four-day bank holiday weekend.
The Queen has attended a number of high-profile engagements in recent weeks and travelled to Balmoral for a short break ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which run from June 2 until June 5.
Along with an official portrait to mark the occasion, the Queen issued a message ahead of the weekend of celebrations.
“Thank you to everyone who has been involved in convening communities, families, neighbours and friends to mark my Platinum Jubilee, in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth,” she wrote.
“I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions.
“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last seventy years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.”
Elizabeth II came to the throne on February 6, 1952, when her ailing father, King George VI, died from lung cancer at Sandringham in the early hours.
This year she became the UK’s longest-reigning monarch.
To mark the celebrations, the Queen is set to symbolically lead the lighting of the principal Jubilee beacon as part of a chain of more than 3,500 flaming tributes to her 70-year reign across the UK and Commonwealth.
It will be a special dual ceremony with her son, the Duke of Cambridge, who will represent Her Majesty at the principal beacon in central London, which takes the form of a lighting installation involving the Queen’s Green Canopy Tree of Trees sculpture, and will be accompanied by projections of archive photographs onto the front of Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace announced the Queen will make an extra Jubilee appearance at Windsor Castle late on Thursday evening.
Across the UK, thousands of street parties and private gatherings are expected to take place, as well as a host of planned events.
In Scotland, events celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee are to be broadcast on a big screen in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens, organised by the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
There will be entertainment by the Royal Marines, as well as local performers, and the whole nation is being called upon to sing Neil Diamond’s hit Sweet Caroline at street parties across the UK on Sunday, June 5.
Soul icon Diana Ross is set to headline the BBC’s Platinum Party At The Palace concert celebrating the monarch’s 70-year Jubilee.
On Wednesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that on behalf of the people of Scotland, the Scottish Government will present the Queen with a limited edition Johnnie Walker whisky, with a special design to celebrate the beauty of Scotland’s plants and wildlife, and a throw made from the tartan commissioned in honour of the three bridges across the Forth.
A Jubilee Wood of 70 native trees is also planned for planting in Holyrood Park, within sight of the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Sturgeon said this was a historically appropriate gesture, as the Queen’s first duty in Scotland following her accession to the throne had been to plant a cherry tree that still stands by the entrance to the Canongate Kirk.