Queen Begins Weekend at Derby

    Racegoers drink wine on an open-top bus decorate with Union Flags with a carboard cut-out of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) on Derby Day, the second day of the Epsom Derby horse racing festival, at Epsom in Surrey, southern England, on June 2, 2012 the first official day of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.   AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS        (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/GettyImages)

    Adrian Dennis, AFP / Getty Images

    And they’re off! Queen Elizabeth II marked the beginning of her Diamond Jubilee weekend with a stop at the Epsom Derby, one of England’s premier horseracing events. The more than 200-year-old tradition draws crowds of 200,000 annually, and holds special resonance for the queen, who had her first official engagement at the derby after her coronation in 1953. The queen is well-known as a racing enthusiast, but she’s much more than a spectator: the monarch owns and breeds her own stock of horses. “She adores breeding racehorses,” John Warren, the queen’s racing manager, told reporters. Celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the queen’s reign will continue throughout the weekend, and include a 1,000-boat parade down the River Thames on Sunday.

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