PICTURES

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II marks 60 years since her coronation

LONDON (AFP) - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was marking the 60th anniversary of her coronation in private on Sunday after indulging in her passion for horses with a day at the races.

The 87-year-old monarch and her husband Prince Philip spent last Saturday at the Epsom Derby, echoing the events of a year ago that kicked off her Diamond Jubilee party.

The Queen took the throne on February 6, 1952 upon the death of her father King George VI, but to allow for a period of national mourning, she was only crowned 16 months later at London's Westminster Abbey, in Britain's first televised coronation.

The Queen will be joined by the royal family and 2,000 guests at the abbey on Tuesday for a service celebrating the anniversary of the rainy summer's day on June 2, 1953 when the imperial state crown was placed on her head.

At the Epsom Downs race course, the monarch, an avid racing fan and a noted racehorse breeder, seemed in good spirits, while Prince Philip followed the action through binoculars.

They were joined by their second son Prince Andrew and his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

The Queen was marking the actual anniversary day in a low-key fashion.

"The Queen will be spending Sunday privately," a Buckingham Palace spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will return to duty on Monday, attending a reception for the Royal National Institute for the Blind at St James's Palace in London.

The coronation anniversary is being staged with far less fanfare than the Diamond Jubilee celebrations last year.

Royal thoughts are now turning to the expected July birth of Prince William and his wife Catherine's baby, who will be third in line to the throne.

Tuesday's celebrations will mark the first time the couple have attended an event at Westminster Abbey since their wedding in April 2011.

The coronation celebrations include exhibitions of memorabilia, gun salutes and a series of garden parties.

The Queen's coronation was the first to be televised, and more than 20 million people in Britain watched the events "live", while another 11 million listened on the radio.

Lady Moyra Campbell, one of Queen Elizabeth's maids of honour at the coronation, told Sky News television it was an "unforgettable day".

"There was that amazing sincerity with which she made those incredibly solemn promises and I, for one, thank God that I have been blessed with a life long enough to see those promises fulfilled in a way that I would challenge anyone else to do."