LONDON — Tributes poured in to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, as she marked 60 years on the throne with a message vowing to continue serving the British people.
Dressed in a Tiffany-blue hat and colorful overcoat against the winter cold, she was greeted by well-wishers in the snow-covered town of King's Lynn at an event planned to mark Accession Day, the anniversary of the day she became queen in 1952.
"I love that the monarchy is above politics and feel that the queen represents that best of all," said Laura Skrzynski, a longtime admirer of the queen, who joined the crowd of about 150 people applauding the monarch's arrival.
"She stands for integrity and respect, and I am inspired by her faith. She has been a constant through all our lives."
Accession Day is usually marked quietly because it also marks the anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth's father, King George VI. However, it drew extra attention Monday because this year marks her Diamond Jubilee celebration. Only Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1837 to 1901, had a longer reign.
The queen said in a message to mark the occasion that she and her husband, Prince Philip, have been "deeply moved" to receive so many kind messages about her Diamond Jubilee.
"I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Philip over these years," she said in a message to the nation.
"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 neighborliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign."
Prime Minister David Cameron praised the queen's "magnificent service," thanking her for guiding the nation with "dignity and quiet authority."
"Always dedicated, always resolute and always respected, she is a source of wisdom and continuity," Mr. Cameron said.
Many praised the queen for her steadfastness and quiet sense of duty. She and Prince Philip have persevered, refusing to cut back on their official duties until very recently, despite their advancing years.
The queen's Diamond Jubilee will be marked with a series of regional, national and international events throughout 2012.
Over the course of the year, members of the royal family, including Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, will fan out across the globe and travel to Commonwealth countries, including Canada, Jamaica and Belize.
The queen and Prince Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, will stay closer to home, touring Britain from March to July. The Diamond Jubilee weekend will be held June 2-5, with the main highlight likely to be a huge pageant on the River Thames featuring a 1,000-strong flotilla.