THOUSANDS of people from every walk of life enjoyed brilliant sunshine in Valentines Park as the Queen began her Diamond Jubilee tour of the country in Redbridge today.

London Mayor Boris Johnson stood alongside Redbridge Council leader Keith Prince to greet the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as they paid their first visit to the borough in 10 years.

Among those waiting in the crowd were Karen Hammond, from Coolgardie Avenue in Chigwell, with her son Isaac, 10, and daughter Lydia, four.

Lydia said: "I am very excited about seeing the Queen. I want to give my flowers to her. I have been practicing my curtsey for ages."

Isaac said: "I was very excited about it and kept on and on to my mum to take the day off work and bring us down."

The Queen’s visit coincided with the opening of the four-day London Pride Festival in the park, which features art and design from the Queen's 60-year reign.

The council appointed Sir Terence Conran as its special advisor for the festival, and the royal party was shown inside Valentines Mansion where works by British artists including Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon, and David Hockney are being exhibited.

Among those who got to chat with the Queen was Noshin Ali, 12, of Beal High School.

She said: "I got a great picture of the Queen that I’m going to put on my wall. Everyone likes the princes but she’s my favourite royal."

Nasib Singh Dhillon, 99, of Woodford Avenue in Gants Hill, was one of six service veterans introduced to her and the Duke.

He said: "I hope to get a letter from her for my 100th birthday next year."

Cllr Prince said: "It is a great privilege to be the first stop in the Queen’s tour. One of the greatest legacies she will leave is the Commonwealth, and I think it is fair to say we have as many members of the Commonwealth in our borough as anywhere else."