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Queen celebrates 60th anniversary of accession

The Queen has issued a message of thanks to the public to mark the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne.

She will spend the anniversary of her accession conducting a series of engagements close to Sandringham.

The Queen's message says: "Today, as I mark 60 years as your Queen, I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Philip over these years and to tell you how deeply moved we have been to receive so many kind messages about the diamond jubilee.

"In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope that we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family friendship and good neighbourliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign and which my family and I look forward to seeing in many forms as we travel throughout the UK and the wider Commonwealth.

"I hope also that this jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future with clear heads and warm hearts as we join together in our celebrations. I send my sincere good wishes to you all."

The main focus of the celebrations will be the first weekend in June, when there will be a riverboat pageant of 1,000 vessels sailing down the Thames through London, expected to be attended by a million spectators.

Former prime minister Sir John Major yesterday dismissed any suggestion that the Queen would ever relinquish the throne early or that Prince William would be the next king.

"The Queen took an oath at the coronation that she would remain as Queen for the rest of her life," he said. "When, hopefully many years hence, the Queen is no longer with us, Prince Charles will become king.

"After Prince Charles will come Prince William. That is, I think, a matter that is beyond doubt."

A new picture of the Queen and Philip has been issued to celebrate her milestone.

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