June 4, 2012— -- Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee has been a spectacle of epic proportions all across Britain. After all, 60 years in the same job deserves to be rewarded.
The festivities began Saturday at the Epsom racecourse to take in one of the year's biggest horse-racing events. The queen, who is an avid horse breeder and racing fan, has been attending the Epsom Derby since she was a little girl.
Queen Elizabeth II watched from the royal box with husband Prince Philip, sons Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, and granddaughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
Sunday saw more than a million revelers brave the typical London weather as the queen led more than 1,000 vessels -- from kayaks to gondolas -- down a seven-mile stretch of the River Thames. Organizers wanted to recreate something out of an 18th-century painting by Giovanni Canaletto, depicting a similar Thames River pageant from the days when Britain's imperial might stretched across the world.
"We're British; we queue in the rain from 6 o'clock in the morning and stand here and watch thousands of ships go by and just support our queen to say thank for being amazing, amazing monarch," one spectator said.
The 86-year-old queen didn't mind the rain. She is only the second British monarch in 1,000 years to make it this far and has characterized her reign with decades of determination and fortitude.
The flotillas sailed past some of London's great landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and St. Paul's Cathedral, before ending their journey at Tower Bridge.
"I think she thought a million and half people have come to the Thames to wave her on, cheer her on, she was not going to sit down," said ABC News' royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah. "They were standing up. She stood 4.5 hours. Extraordinary stamina. That's why she's still going. That's why we're celebrating her Diamond Jubilee."
The queen wore a silver and white dress and matching coat in her flotilla. Prince William was on hand with his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who wore a red Alexander McQueen dress. William's brother, Prince Harry, was also among senior royals who joined the queen. The ceremony ended with a damp fireworks display over Tower Bridge.
"There has been so much buildup to this four days of celebrations," said Nikkhah. "It's almost felt like more energy than the royal wedding. I think the royal family very much feels they want to deliver. They want to deliver on people's expectations."
About 10,000 people will gather this afternoon in the gardens of Buckingham Palace for a Jubilee picnic, as Britons continue to celebrate 60 years on the throne for the lady who lives here. Paul McCartney and Elton John are to sing before the queen in a spectacular concert taking place on a stage erected especially for the event out in front of the palace.
The events come to a poignant end Tuesday with a religious service at St. Paul's Cathedral, a carriage procession through the streets of London and the queen's appearance with her family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace.
The Diamond Jubilee is a celebration of the queen who took the throne in 1952 at the age of 25 after the death of her father, King George VI.
The Associated Press contributed to this report