Diamond Jubilee: Queen marks eve of accession to throne

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Media captionThe Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh took time to meet well-wishers outside the church

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have attended a church service on the eve of the Diamond Jubilee anniversary of her accession to the throne.

They joined the congregation at West Newton Church in the monarch's private Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

On Monday the Queen will have served 60 years as monarch, on the anniversary of the death of her father, George VI.

The milestone will be marked by several events in the coming months, with the main celebrations taking place in June.

The Queen attended a 45-minute service led by the Rev Jonathan Riviere before visiting a local Sunday school class and receiving flowers outside from waiting children.

Accession Day on 6 February is always tinged with sadness for the monarch as it is the day her father George VI died.

Winter break

She usually spends the day privately but, this year, has two engagements planned.

Image caption The Queen's accession will be marked by a series of events this year

The monarch and Prince Philip are nearing the end of their traditional winter break at Sandringham.

It comes after the Duke of Edinburgh was treated for a blocked coronary artery shortly before Christmas.

The couple's time at the estate has also provided him with the opportunity to convalesce.

Earlier, speaking on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, former prime minister John Major reflected on the counsel of the Queen and the many private meetings he had with her during his premiership.

He said: "They're very useful. I mean, where else can you talk to one person in total certainty that it's entirely secret? That nobody is going to talk to anybody else about what is said. So they're very free, they're very frank, they're very useful. And of course, the Queen has been there for 60 years.

"Her first prime minister was Winston Churchill. Most of the present cabinet weren't born when the Queen became monarch. So there's very little she hasn't seen, very little she doesn't understand. And anyone who doesn't listen to her view and consult her when necessary is missing a huge opportunity."

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Media captionSir John Major: "Prince Charles will become king"

Events planned to take place during the summer to mark the Diamond Jubilee include the Queen leading a flotilla of a thousand boats along the Thames and a chain of beacons lit across the country.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh also intend to travel as widely as possible across the UK to mark 2012's Diamond Jubilee.

Other members of the Royal Family will visit the 15 other countries where the Queen is head of state, as well as some other Commonwealth countries.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit Malaysia, Singapore, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will visit Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

And Prince Harry will tour Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

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