Queen to open new Heathrow Terminal 2 today

Queen Elizabeth II is to officially open Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 building today, Monday, June 23.

The new Terminal is also to be known as The Queen’s Terminal in honour of the UK’s monarch. During her visit today, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, she will have a tour of the £2.5bn building and unveil a commemorative plaque.

The previous Terminal 2 building was also opened by the Queen in 1955, and had been the oldest building on the site. It was originally built to handle 1.2 million passengers per annum, but when it closed in 2009 it had regularly been handling 8 million per year. Its demolition made way for the new terminal 2 building that is capable of handling 20 million passengers per annum.

Five years in construction, the new terminal will accommodate 23 Star Alliance airlines, as well as Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red and Germanwings. The building is connected to transport links by a covered court, and the main building benefits from ample natural light thanks to its three-wave, steel frame roof.

Prior to its opening, the terminal has undergone a rigorous six months of testing that involved 14,000 volunteers in 180 trial scenarios, including the processing of 4,000 bags per hour. The facility boasts 28 gates, eight piers for the Airbus A380, 33 shops, 17 restaurants, 36 immigration lanes, 10 e-gates, 29 security lanes, 634 toilets, 1,340 car parking spaces, 60 check-in kiosks and 66 self-service kiosks.

99 percent of materials from the old Terminal 2 were recycled or reused.

 

New Best of Britain Tour from CIE Tours

With Britain gearing up to receive a massive tourist influx for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in July, and Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June, several travel companies are offering a range of Best of Britain tours.

CIE Tours International, a US-based guided tour company, is offering escorted tours of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales for travellers visiting the country for the upcoming events.

Eight or nine-day Best of Britain itineraries include travel by deluxe motor coach, overnight stays in first class hotels, and guided tours of local attractions. All vacations are inclusive of airport transfers, transportation, taxes and porter fees, admission fees, as well as all meals, special attractions and evening entertainment.

The Best of Britain itinerary will feature Stonehenge and Bath, Oxford, a Scottish cabaret dinner show, a banquet at Cardiff Castle, walking tours of Oxford and York, and visits to Windsor and Alnwick Castles, Tintern Abbey, and the Roman Baths. The package prices commence at $1,648 per person, and information regarding all tours is available on the company’s own website.

CIE Tours International president, Brian W Stack, said, ‘The reasons to visit Britain are far too numerous to count. However, it is clear our itineraries, especially our new Best of Britain tour, have never been more timely or exciting.’

Kensington Palace now open after a £12m makeover

Following a £12million transformation, Kensington Palace has now reopened to the public. This will allow the public to view some of the palace’s private areas that have gone on display for the first time. 

There is also a special exhibition dedicated to Queen Victoria, who was born at the royal home and lived there until she was 18.

There will also be an exhibition of some of Princess Diana’s dresses and people will be able to wonder through the beautiful Queen’s State Apartments. 

The Palace’s gardens have now been opened out. Now only the original gold gates remain, the iron railings have been removed.

The grounds landscaped by Charles Bridgeman in the early 18th century, can now be seen uncluttered by railings or large trees. The statue of Queen Victoria has also been spruced up and sits in pride of place in the gardens.

Replacing the ‘Golden Gates’ as the public entrance will be the new Jubilee Garden.

Visitors will enter into ‘The White Court’ where they can view a light sculpture called Luminous Lace, which apparently replicates a royal lace pattern.

Visitors will then go on to the grand ticket office, where they can choose from four different exhibitions spanning across four centuries.

The revamp team are hoping the new look Kensington Palace will appeal to all ages and are hope visitor numbers by at least 100,000.

‘We’ve set out to awaken a sleeping beauty,’ announced Charles Mackay, the chairman of Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity which runs the place.

Tickets will cost £14.50 for adults, £12 for concessions and children will get in free. Visit www.hrp.org.uk/KensingtonPalace

Russians get four-day holiday… for gardening

Brits will be enjoying a long weekend in June thanks to the Queens Diamond Jubilee. And the extra long bank holiday break has caught on, Russia will also be getting a long weekend, thanks to in-coming president Vladimir Putin, to do gardening.

The ‘national staycation’ in Russia will take place from May 6th to May 9th, over Russia’s World War Two Victory Day, which is on May 9th.

Mr Putin’s inauguration falls on May 7th over the weekend ‘staycation’.

‘Many people want more holidays at this time, so that people could go to their allotments, their gardens,’ Mr Putin said, according to the government website.

Less in line with a focus on leisure time, Mr Putin adds: ‘I ask that production work (in heavy industry) is streamlined accordingly.’

The current prime minister recently won a return to the Russian presidency for a six-year term. But the election has been surrounded by controversy, with accusations that the election was slanted in his favour.

The opposition has said they will not recognise the results, in which Putin gained over 63 per cent of the vote.

Russia have been urged to launch an investigation by the European Union and the US over accusations of fraud in the voting system.

The result has seen many Russians protesting the election in demonstrations and large rallies have been organsied in Moscow.

Celebrating 60 years of the Queen’s reign at Buckingham Palace

The Queen ascended to the throne on 6 February 1952 and her coronation took place on 2 June 1953. She observed her Silver Jubilee (25 years) in 1977 and her Golden Jubilee (50 years) in 2002. 2012 is a very special year indeed; it is the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, an extraordinary occasion. The Diamond Jubilee marks an incredible 60 years of the Queen’s reign. Make the most of this remarkable occasion.

The very first British sovereign to commemorate 50 years on the throne in a noteworthy and momentous fashion was George III. The only other British queen to observe a Diamond Jubilee was Queen Victoria in 1897. The revels of the Diamond Jubilee will focus around an extended weekend in 2012 on 2, 3, 4 and 5 June. Why not visit the UK during the festivities and take a thrilling London tour – discover just what is being planned for the Diamond Jubilee and see how you can become involved.

Even before June, many Diamond Jubilee related activities will take place both inside and outside of London. For example, the Diamond Jubilee Pageant, taking place on the 10, 11 and 13 May, promises a range of entertainment coming from musicians and dancers, as well as military and equestrian displays from all over the globe. This will all take place in the private grounds of spectacular Windsor Castle.

Similarly, there will be a Parade and Muster at Windsor on Saturday 19 May. Almost 2,500 troops from the Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force will march through Windsor Castle and the town before the Queen. They will then gather in the castle grounds in front of an audience of over 3,000 Armed Forces personnel, their families, and veterans for a distinctive and singular event.

A range of diverse exhibitions also mark the Queen’s Jubilee. The Royal Collection has exhibitions at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Windsor Castle, and various other regal venues in the United Kingdom to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee. Take a Buckingham Palace tour for a truly majestic experience. Or perhaps visit Windsor Castle and marvel at ‘The Queen: Sixty Photographs for Sixty Years’ exhibition.

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is due to open an intriguing exhibition entitled ‘Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames’ in April 2012. It will explore the affiliations between the Queen, the City of London and the River Thames. The illustrious National Portrait Gallery will display ‘The Queen: Art and Image’, a touring collection of images of the Queen. Additionally to this, the eminent Victoria and Albert Museum is showcasing a selection of portraits of The Queen by photographer Cecil Beaton, which will also tour around the UK.

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee plans are revealed

As the country marks the day 60 years ago the Queen found out she would be ascending to the thrown, it has be unveiled that more than a million people are expected to line the River Thames for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee river pageant.

The celebrations will fall on the Bank Holiday weekend from June 2 to 5 will be focal point of the 2012 Jubilee celebrations. The Queen’s 60-year reign will be marked with a river pageant featuring 1,000-strong flotilla on the River Thames.

It has been predicted that at least a million people will line to river to watch the Queen’s royal barge go by.

The celebrations will not be confined to the UK, members of the Royal Family will be travelling to countries including Canada, Belize and Jamaica where the monarch is head of state, and the wider Commonwealth.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will also be travelling around every region of the UK between March and July to visit as many people as possible.

Pageant master Adrian Evans has set an outline of the event which will see the extended Diamond Jubilee bank holiday weekend at its centre the summer.

He said: ‘We’re planning for well over a million people to congregate on the Thames bridges, on balconies and riverside properties and the river’s edge to watch the pageant and salute the Queen, resplendent on the Thames in her glittering royal barge.

‘We’ll be placing just under 50 big screens along the pageant’s route to help people get the most of the day.

‘BBC, ITV and Sky will be broadcasting the event live and distributing their feed worldwide, taking the pageant’s audience into the hundreds of millions.

‘We hope the buildings along the pageant route will dress out in appropriate jubilee style, with bunting, Union flags and red, white and blue.

‘The pageant is a once-in-a-lifetime event, one that will reclaim the Thames as a royal route.’

 

The pageant will take place on Sunday June 3 and travel under 14 road and rail bridges and will feature 20,000 people on the water.

The flotilla will be divided into 10 sections, with the music barges separating each section.

Mr Evans, the event’s pageant master, said 115 boats, which carry tourists up and down the Thames, would be included in the festivities.

He added that he was aware that boat operators would be losing a day’s trade but did not want to see the public charged excessive prices and thought that prices asked for New Year’s Eve river trips were a suitable equivalent.

Mr Evans said: ‘We don’t want them to profiteer – we think it’s inappropriate.’

Marking her 60 years on February 6, the Queen released a statement saying:

‘I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Phillip over these years,’ she wrote in a message to the nation.

‘In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope that we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighborliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign.’

Brits to get a FOUR DAY bank holiday break to mark Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

The extra long weekend, thanks to the Royal Wedding, put everyone in high spirits and now the Government is hoping to have a similar weekend next year in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Next year’s Whitsun Bank Holiday, will be postponed from May until Monday, June 4 and an extra Bank Holiday will be added on Tuesday, June 5.

The celebration will mark the monarchs 60 years on the throne, will give Brits the a four day break.

It is hoped that millions will join in the celebrations, which mark the start of a ‘feel good’ summer culminating in the Olympic Games in London.

But business leaders have criticised the move saying it will damage firms during a period of economic downturn.

Phil McCabe of the Forum of Private Business said: ‘The extra day off will no doubt motivate staff, but at a real cost to firms.’

One of the highlights is expected to be The Big Jubilee Lunch, for which neighbours will be encouraged to share a meal. It is to be launched by the Palace and environmental and educational charity the Eden Project.

A Whitehall source said: ‘We hope everyone will join in by holding street parties or other celebrations to mark a very special weekend.’

A Royal source added: ‘Local celebrations have always been part of previous Jubilees.

Eden Project founder Tim Smit has joined Buckingham Palace to lauch the Big Jubilee Lunch

‘People particularly remember the street parties in 1977 for the Silver Jubilee and grassroots celebrations in 2002 for the Golden Jubilee.

Eden Project chief executive Tim Smit said: ‘We liven in a country where we keep talking about celebrating our differences, but this is a way of celebrating our commonality. One thing we have in common … is that we treasure the monarchy.’

A further highlight of the Jubilee celebrations is likely to be when the Queen’s Royal Barge leads a flotilla of more than 1,000 boats along the Thames on Sunday, June 3.

It will be the largest river pageant to take place in Britain since the reign of Charles II.

The Queen, who will be 86 when she marks 60 years on the throne, is due to become only the second British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. The first was Queen Victoria in 1897.