The archbishop of Canterbury said Monday that the 60th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip was also an occasion to be thankful for her long and devoted service to the nation and Commonwealth.
Archbishop Rowan Williams, speaking to the royal couple and 2,000 guests at a thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey, said the diamond anniversary was a milestone in her commitment to her role.
The queen, then Princess Elizabeth, married Philip at the abbey on Nov. 20, 1947. She became queen in 1952, following the death of her father, George VI.
"Every marriage is a public event, but some couples have to live more than others in the full light of publicity," Williams said. "We are probably more aware than ever these days of the pressures this brings.
"But it also means that we can give special thanks for the very public character of the witness and the sign offered to us by this marriage, and what it has meant to nation and Commonwealth over the decades.
"And part of what it has meant has had to do precisely with the sense of unqualified commitment that has been so characteristic of every aspect of this reign: the faithful and creative personal partnership at the center of everything else has been a sign of creative faithfulness to a task, a vocation, the creative faithfulness that secures the trust, love and prayerful support of millions," Williams said.
Dame Judi Dench read a poem, "Diamond Anniversary," composed by Poet Laureate Andrew Motion for the occasion.
Some 500 members of Royal Household staff past and present were also among the guests, along with representatives from the former Royal Yacht Britannia, the Royal Train and the Royal Squadron.
Five men who were boy choristers at the 1947 wedding service carried candles in the procession.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969