Blue skies over Sandringham for Royal garden party hosted by the Queen at her Norfolk home

Guests mingle with royalty as part of Diamond Jubilee celebrations

The Royal estate at Sandringham was blessed with a rare blue sky and sunshine as the Queen hosted a garden party yesterday.

Thousands of guests from Norfolk and Suffolk were invited to the exclusive event to mark part of the official Diamond Jubilee celebrations – and they were not disappointed.

From the daintiest of dainty cakes served by students from Norfolk, to the pomp of the Royal Marines' Band at the end of the day, the afternoon was a resounding success.

The Queen, wearing an apricot coat, dress and matching hat, looked happy and relaxed as she chatted to a selected few of the 3,500 guests. The Duke of York, representing his father who was unable to attend, also put people at their ease as he conducted a walkabout.

From the moment guests arrived at the impressive estate they were made to feel welcome and the afternoon tea was traditionally English – complete with red, white and blue macaroons and miniature Victoria sponges, specially created for the occasion.

Students from the College of West Anglia in King's Lynn, City College, Norwich, and Great Yarmouth College worked hard to ensure the guests enjoyed the refreshments they created.

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From titled land-owners to volunteer charity workers and Royal Warrant holders, guests came from every walk of life and all of them had the chance to mingle with Royalty which, for many, would be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

From the moment the Queen arrived on the lawns, to the moment the lowering of the Royal Standard indicated she had left the estate, the garden party ran like clockwork.

The only tinge of sadness was the fact that the Duke of Edinburgh was unable to attend as he continues to recover from the bladder infection which kept him in hospital until Saturday.

'We are all sad that His Royal Highness is unable to be present. Please give him our good wishes,' said Richard Jewson, Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, in a speech he gave after the Band of the Royal Marines had Beat the Retreat. He told the Queen that Norfolk was proud to have Sandringham within its borders and assured her the Diamond Jubilee weekend had been celebrated enthusiastically. 'I know that I speak for everyone who is here in thanking you for the work you do,' he said, before leading a rousing three cheers. As the guests made their way out of the grounds, a lone piper played from a balcony to signify an end to the proceedings.

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