— Move aside, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry — it’s Queen Elizabeth II’s time to shine. The Queen’s Jubilee kicks off Saturday, and it is promising to be an event of royal proportions.
TODAY’s Meredith Vieira is in London for the celebration, which she called a weekend “fit for a queen.”
Elizabeth's son Prince Charles spoke about his mother in a documentary for British broadcaster ITV. “The Diamond Jubilee I think gives us a chance to celebrate with pride all the Queen means to us," he said. "Both as a nation and indeed as one of her children.”
In a sweet moment, Prince William revealed that when it comes to his relationship with Britain's monarch, he sees her as "grandmother first, queen second."
The nation is feeling a general sense of affection for Elizabeth, too. The Jubilee festivities will kick off Saturday with the Epsom Derby horse race, and on Sunday more than 1,000 boats will sail down the river Thames. The royal family will be on a special barge with millions of expected supporters cheering from the riverbanks.
A star-studded concert is scheduled for Monday with performances by Elton John, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and others, and a lighting of 4,000 beacons across Great Britain.
“I think it’s going to be one of the most spectacular things that has happened in London for years," said NBC special correspondent Ben Fogle. "We had the spectacular wedding last year, and I think this is going to blow everyone away.”
Fogle will be part of the flotilla, in a little rowboat, he told Vieira, “sweating, and probably looking a little bit red in the face.” His boat will be slotted right behind the Gloriana, the royal rowboat, and in front of the Spirit of Chartwell, the royal barge.
While Elizabeth doesn’t actually like attention being placed on her personally, she does relish the idea of Britain — and the world — celebrating together. The queen, said royal expert Camilla Tominey, sees herself as a Briton first, and a member of the monarchy second.
“She’s always worn bright colors because she thinks it’s important to be seen by the people and that’s why she goes on walkabout,” Tominey said. “She doesn’t want to be one of them. She wants to be one of us.”
Britain's willingness to break out the party supplies and celebrate the royal landmark is "not just for her," said Tominey, "but for Britain."
The community spirit is very much in tune with royal events in this country."