The four-day celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th jubilee get underway in the UK on Thursday. Ahead of the kick-off, the royal family tweeted a message from the Queen and a new portrait taken by photographer Ranald Mackechnie. The photograph shows the Queen seated in front of a window in a room at Windsor Castle.

In her message, the Queen thanked everyone involved in organizing the anniversary celebrations. “I know that many happy memories are always made on such festive occasions,” it said.

“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill bestowed on me,” the Queen continued. “I hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to look back on the achievements of the past 70 years as we look to the future with confidence and excitement.”

Elizabeth has been King George VI since the death of her father. Queen of Britain on 6 February 1952. She was crowned on June 2, 1953.

A few records and numbers from Elizabeth II’s reign:

To kick off the centenary celebrations, more than 1,200 soldiers take part in the Trooping the Color parade in London, which traditionally takes place in early June to mark the Queen’s birthday in April. The magnificent parade with horses and music bands is a tradition that is more than 200 years old. The highlight is the appearance of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

Only the “working” members of the royal family will take part this time. That means neither Prince Harry, who emigrated to the United States, with his wife Meghan and their two children, nor Prince Andrew, who was discredited by an abuse scandal, are there.

Another highlight of the day is the lighting of more than 2,800 beacons at the Palace and across the UK, including on the country’s four highest peaks.

More celebrations will take place over a long weekend until Sunday. A street pageant, a kind of street carnival, is planned for Sunday in London. So that people can celebrate their queen properly, there is another non-working holiday once. In addition, pubs are allowed to open much longer.

The four-day festival is intended to bring the country together again after Brexit and the corona pandemic. British flags have been flying everywhere for days, houses and front gardens are decorated. Die-hard Royals fans camp out on London’s Mall to secure a good spot for the parade.