As Queen Elizabeth II completed 60 years on the throne yesterday, she renewed her pledge to serve the country, thanked the public for their support

The Queen yesterday renewed her pledge to serve the country as her Diamond Jubilee celebrations started with a bang in the form of gun salutes in Edinburgh and London.

The 85-year-old monarch usually spends the anniversary of her accession privately to mark the passing of her father George VI.

Party on the streets: Hundreds of people line St John's Wood High
Street in north London as soldiers make their way to Hyde Park where
they fired a 41 gun salute to mark the start of Diamond Jubilee celebrations
for the Queen. pics/afp

But, yesterday she travelled from Sandringham -- which, like much of England, is blanketed with snow -- to King's Lynn to meet local dignitaries and tour the town hall ahead of her visit to nearby Dersingham Infant and Nursery School.

Despite the cold weather, around 150 well wishers gathered outside King's Lynn town hall to catch a glimpse of the monarch who wore a turquoise, grey and white wool dress, coat and matching hat by Angela Kelly. In a statement on the royal website, the queen pledged continued service to her people and extended gratitude for the "wonderful support and encouragement that you have given me and [husband] Prince Philip over these years."

"In this special year as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope 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," the message said.

In a written message, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron praised the authority and dignity of the queen and her 60 years of service -- which has seen 12 prime ministers come and go.

"Today is a day to pay tribute to the magnificent service of HM the Queen. With experience, dignity and quiet authority she has guided and united our nation and the Commonwealth over six varied decades," his statement said.

The last British monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee was Queen Elizabeth's great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, in June 1897.

Rs 77-lakh whiskey to honour Queen
A whiskey costing �100,000 (Rs 77 lakh) a bottle has been released to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne. Only 60 bottles of Diamond Jubilee will be released by the Royal Lochnagar Distillery, on the edge of the Queen's Balmoral Estate. Each bottle comes in a hand-crafted decanter finished in casks made of oak from Sandringham. The whiskey is a blend of grain and malt whiskies all dating from 1952.