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Gunfire salutes for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II mark the start of her Platinum Jubilee

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By Euronews  with AP
The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery fire gun salutes to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, February 7th, 2022
The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery fire gun salutes to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, February 7th, 2022   -   Copyright  Alberto Pezzali/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Gun salutes rang out in London and Edinburgh on Monday to mark the official start of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee year.

Britain's longest-serving monarch, Elizabeth became queen on the death of her father, King George VI, who passed away from lung cancer on 6 February 1952 at age 56.

In London's Green Park, next to Buckingham Palace, the Welsh Guards Band played for a crowd of onlookers before The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired their salute. 

At Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, the salute was heard across the city at noon. At the same time, at the Tower of London, the Honourable Artillery Company fired a 62-gun salute to mark the official start of the celebrations.

Queen Elizabeth does not celebrate the anniversary of the date she became queen — known as Ascension Day — as it is also the anniversary of her father's death.

In a statement released Saturday, the 95-year-old monarch remembered her father's death and recalled the seven decades of "extraordinary progress" that her reign has spanned.

"As I look ahead with a sense of hope and optimism to the year of my Platinum Jubilee, I am reminded of how much we can be thankful for," the queen said.

"These last seven decades have seen extraordinary progress socially, technologically and culturally that have benefitted us all."

The queen made clear she intended to continue as head of state, renewing the pledge she made on her 21st birthday to devote her entire life to the service of the UK and the Commonwealth.

Queen Elizabeth clarifies her wishes on Camilla's future role

The queen also took the opportunity at the start of her jubilee celebrations to shore up the monarchy's future by saying she wanted Prince Charles' wife Camilla to be known as "Queen Consort" when he ascends to the throne.

"And when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when the time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service," the Queen stated.

With those words, Elizabeth sought to answer once and for all questions about the status of Camilla, who was initially shunned by fans of the late Princess Diana, Charles' first wife.

While Sunday's anniversary and Monday's military salute were relatively low-key, public celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee are scheduled for June, when the weather is usually sunnier.

The festivities will include a military parade, a day of horse racing and neighbourhood parties. There is also a competition to create a new dessert to be consumed over the jubilee weekend between 2 and 5 June.