Navy to mark 60th anniversary of Queen’s ascension to the throne

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A SPECTACULAR 21-gun salute will be fired by the Royal Navy on Monday to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the throne.

The saluting gun at Fort Blockhouse at Gosport – at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour – will be fired at 12 noon by four specialist gunnery instructors from HMS Collingwood at Fareham.

Commander David Hilton, base services manager at Portsmouth Naval Base, said: ‘It is tradition for the Royal Navy to mark important anniversaries of the Royal Family in this way. Also in keeping with tradition, the ships alongside in the Naval Base will be “dressed overall” with colourful flags stretching the entire length of the ship.’

Monday marks 60 years since King George VI died peacefully in his sleep at Sandringham House aged 56.

Then Princess Elizabeth was informed of the news of her father’s death while staying at Treetops, the Royal hunting lodge in Kenya.

She immediately became Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 25, and formally proclaimed herself Queen and Head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith.

However, the amount of planning and a wish for a sunny day led to her official coronation being delayed until June 2, 1953.

The country is set to officially celebrate her Diamond Jubilee over an extended Bank Holiday weekend from June 2 to June 5 this year.

But Monday is the true date of when she came to the throne, prompting the navy to fire its gun salute in Portsmouth.

The custom dates back to the early days of sail when ships visiting foreign ports would discharge their guns before entering to prove they were empty and that the visit was peaceful.

The portable 19th century gun at Fort Blockhouse has been firing salutes since it was acquired by the navy in 1957 - just five years after Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne.