Five things you can do in London to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s historic reign

Queen Elizabeth II in wax at Madame Tussauds

This is not Queen Elizabeth II, though it’s a convincing likeness. It’s her double at Madame Tussauds London.

(Leon Neal / AFP/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday becomes the longest reigning monarch on the British throne. The 89-year-old surpasses her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria by sitting as queen for 63 years and 217 days. It's a profound milestone -- but not one to be observed with any official celebrations.

At least that was the plan. But the media have made much of the date, and even in London there's been a bit of giddiness. Here are five places that will be honoring the queen's more than six-decade reign.

1. The Thames

Yachts setting off on a round-the-world race left London on Aug. 30. Boats on Wednesday will pass by the Tower Bridge (in the background) as part of a Royal River Salute. (Carl Court / Getty Images)

Head to the river! At noon Wednesday (today) -- that's London time, which is 4 a.m. L.A. time -- historic vessels as well as passenger boats will pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth in a Royal River Salute that takes place on the River Thames between Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament.

Expect to see the bridge lift to honor the queen while vessels sound their horns for a single minute too. It's part of the Totally Thames Festival, which is on throughout September.

2. Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1953 wave to supporters from the balcony at Buckingham Palace, after her coronation at Westminster Abbey. (Leslie Priest / File photo / Associated Press)

Stop by her home. There will be an outdoor photo show at the inner quadrangle of the official royal residences at Buckingham Palace. The show includes official images of the queen during visits in Britain and around the Commonwealth countries.

The palace also is selling Longest Reigning Monarch Plate for 65 pounds (about $100) each. The plate features a coat of arms from the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth and the words: "H.M. Queen Elizabeth II" and "Our Longest Reigning Monarch." And no, it's doesn't go in the microwave or dishwasher; strictly a keepsake.

Kensington Palace also will present a new film that contrasts the reigns of Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.

3. Madame Tussauds London

Queen Elizabeth II in wax at Madame Tussauds London. (Kitty Wigglesworth / Associated Press )

Get close with the queen, sort of. Madame Tussauds London gave the queen a makeover in honor of her milestone. The wax figure has been "refreshed," and she's been outfitted in a gown that's a re-creation of the one she wore for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Also, the Thames Rib Experience, the fast-boat tour of the river, will hand out royal masks as they whisk you up and down the Thames.

4. Afternoon teas

You can order a royal-themed afternoon tea with all the sweet trimmings at the InterContinental London Park Lane. It's located at 145 Piccadilly, which happens to have been the queen's childhood residence. Also, St. James's Court (a Taj Hotel) offers a tea with scones that have been prepared to the queen's specifications.

5. Real tea

Fortnum & Mason in London. (Gryffindor / Wikimedia Commons)

What better way to celebrate than with a cuppa. Fortnum & Mason, which has been around since 1707, launches a Queen's Blend Tea to mark the monarch's long reign. "The tea takes as its heart Kenya; where she was staying when she ascended the throne in 1952...," is how the tea company describes it. A 250-gram tin costs 15 British pounds ($23).

Also, if you swing by the store at 181 Picadilly, there will be a window display about the queen's 63 years on the throne.


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