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Benedict Cleotes, 40, from the Philippines, said he came to the Mall at 4 a.m. to claim his spot. "Seeing the queen is very special to me and I want to have something to tell them in the Philippines. They will be jealous," he said.
Among the early arrivals at the cathedral were four women from Jedburgh, a Scottish town near the English border, who displayed a large Union Jack flag.
"We’ve been saving for three years to come here," said Marion Kingswood, 69. "Apart from the royal wedding, there’s been nothing like it. Sixty years is such an achievement."
A few anti-monarchist demonstrators were outside the cathedral with slogans including "Republic Now!" or, in a shot at the cost of maintaining the monarchy, "9500 Nurses or 1 Queen?"
Royalists in the crowd responded noisily, chanting "God save the queen!"
Along the parade route, 70-year-old Margaret Barker said Philip’s absence would put a damper on the queen’s day.
"She’s got the rest of her family around her but when you think of all the planning there’s been for this and how long they’ve been together, it seems very sad that he can’t be with her today," Barker said.
Tourist Cassandra Past, 20, from New York, said she expected the queen to keep her chin up despite worries about her 90-year-old husband. "She is the queen, and she sort of has to put on a good face for her country and her people," Past said.
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