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Queen celebrates 60-year reign

This year, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne. Hers is the second longest reign in British history, after Queen Victoria. A grand total of 12 prime ministers have served under her, from Sir Winston Churchill to David Cameron, who was not even born when the Queen's reign began. Communities all around the United Kingdom and throughout the world — for she is the head of state of 16 countries — are celebrating this momentous occasion.

The United Kingdom over which Queen Elizabeth reigns today is very different from that in 1952, when she acceded to the throne. Back then, the country still bore the scars of World War II. Compare that with 2012, when we are proud to be hosting the most spectacular sporting event in the world — the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, a global city whose 8 million inhabitants together speak 300 different languages. But throughout that long period of change, the queen's reign has been a focal point for stability and continuity.

To mark this special anniversary year, a member of the royal family will visit all the Commonwealth Realms and a number of other Commonwealth countries, which encompass about one-third of the world's population. The queen herself is visiting different parts of the United Kingdom. It is her personal wish that, through these celebrations, people come together in a spirit of neighborliness and in celebration of their own communities.

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