Elizabeth Marks 60 Years as Queen
Thanks British people as Diamond Jubilee kicks off
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 6, 2012 9:06 AM CST
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II accepts a bouquet of flowers from a well wisher at the church of St. Peter and St. Paul at West Newton, eastern England, Sunday Feb. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/PA, Chris Radburn)
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(Newser) – It's 60 years to the day since Elizabeth II became queen, and she's kicking off a year of celebrations with a message to the British people. "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 writes. "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."

Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne after the death of her father, George VI, on Feb. 6, 1952. That makes 2012 her Diamond Jubilee, and the royal family is gearing up for festivities throughout the year. Will, Kate, and other members of the family will head to British Commonwealth countries like Canada and Belize; on the first weekend in June, celebrations will be held at home, including a 1,000-vessel flotilla on the Thames, reports the AP. The queen is ready to"look forward to the future with a clear head and warm heart," she writes.