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Brits Throw a Centennial Bash for Queen Mother

July 20, 2000|From Associated Press

LONDON — Riding in a horse-drawn coach past throngs of cheering fans, the Queen Mother Elizabeth disregarded bomb threats Wednesday and went to her 100th birthday party--an outdoor pageant of singing, dancing and floats.

The hugely popular royal--the mother of Queen Elizabeth II and the widow of King George VI--will be 100 on Aug. 4. But celebrations began in earnest a week ago, when European royal families attended a St. Paul's Cathedral service of thanksgiving for her long and remarkably healthy life.

Early Wednesday, as the last arrangements for the afternoon pageant were falling into place, bomb threats at three underground rail stations shut down large sections of London's main transport system and forced most royalty fans to make their way on foot from mainline rail stations and parking lots.

"We are great fans of the Queen Mother because she was a figurehead during the war and she is a very remarkable lady," said Jill Charman, 62, who came from 50 miles away.

During World War II, the royal family remained in the British capital during German bombing that left parts of the city in ruins, especially the poor East End. When Buckingham Palace was hit, the then-queen said: "I'm glad we have been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face."

The Queen Mother was welcomed by waves of applause at the Horseguards Parade ground. Dressed all in pink, she made her own way up the stairs of the dais, relying only on her walking sticks, and insisted on standing to take the salute of hundreds of troops marching past.

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