Queen returns to Windsor Castle after Balmoral visit ahead of Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Her Majesty arrived back at her Berkshire royal residence earlier today, two days before the Jubilee weekend gets under way

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The Queen has returned to Windsor Castle from Balmoral ready to join the nation’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations marking her 70 year-reign.

The monarch had travelled to her Scottish sanctuary on Thursday for a short break in order to pace herself ahead of the busy four-day weekend of festivities.

Buckingham Palace said the 96-year-old head of state arrived back at her Berkshire royal residence on Tuesday, two days before the Jubilee weekend gets under way.

The Queen has returned to Windsor Castle
The Queen has returned to Windsor Castle

She is likely to have been resting ahead of the milestone festivities, having faced mobility problems for several months and confessing to having difficulty walking.

Millions across the country are set to take to the streets for parties and Big Jubilee Lunches this weekend in honour of the nation’s longest-reigning monarch.

It is the first time in history Britain has celebrated a royal Platinum Jubilee.

Patriotic tributes to the Queen around the UK include a life-size woollen knitted monarch plus corgi made by Holmes Chapel Community Yarn Bombers in Cheshire, and a 5ft 3in Victoria sponge cake in the shape of the sovereign by social media star Lara Mason.

The commemorations kick start with the traditional Trooping the Colour military spectacle on Thursday, involving more than 1,500 officers and soldiers and 350 horses from the Household Division.

But the Queen’s attendance is only likely to be confirmed on the morning, with royal fans hoping to see her appear on the balcony with her family for a special flypast, and possibly even review the troops.

In the evening, more than 3,000 beacons will be set ablaze across the UK and the Commonwealth in tribute to the Queen, with the principal Tree of Trees beacon illuminated outside the Palace.

Fans have already gathered for prime position outside Buckingham Palace ahead of the Jubilee
Fans have already gathered for prime position outside Buckingham Palace ahead of the Jubilee

There will be no ceremonial journey to the service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Queen on Friday June 3, and the monarch, if she attends, will use a different entrance rather than scaling the steep steps.

And the Queen’s planned visit to Epsom for the Derby on Saturday is off, with the Princess Royal attending on her behalf.

Saturday is also the first birthday of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s daughter Lilibet, amid speculation the Queen will get to meet her namesake for the first time and possibly attend her christening when Harry and Meghan fly back for the Jubilee.

In the evening, the BBC’s Party at the Palace – set on three stages in front of Buckingham Palace – will entertain a live crowd of 22,000 people and a television audience of millions.

The line-up includes Diana Ross, Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys, Nile Rodgers, Andrea Bocelli, Duran Duran, Bond composer Hans Zimmer, Ella Eyre, Craig David, Mabel, Elbow and George Ezra.

Charles and William are preparing to deliver public tributes at the concert to the Queen, who is due to be watching on television from Windsor.

On Sunday, millions will gather for patriotic street parties, picnics and barbecues, with more than 85,000 Big Jubilee Lunches being held across the UK.

The finale is the Jubilee Pageant through the streets of London, with a cast of 6,000 performers and close to 200 celebrities joining the carnival procession.

It is hoped the monarch will make a final appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony to round off the weekend to see Ed Sheeran singing the national anthem with a choir made up of Britain’s “national treasures”.

Early morning rehearsals for the pageant took place on The Mall on Tuesday as the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force went through their last-minute preparations.

Among the sights was the Gold State Coach which will appear on the day with archive footage of the Queen – travelling in it on for her Coronation – broadcast at the windows, making it seem as if the monarch is in the carriage.