London -- Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations reached a climax Tuesday as she and other members of the royal family appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for a flypast.
Aircraft from the Battle of Britain -- including Spitfires and a Hurricane -- and the Red Arrows display team roared over the palace in a dramatic finale to four days of festivities, trailing red, white and blue smoke.
Huge crowds of well-wishers who had gathered to cheer the queen as she traveled by carriage procession from Westminster to Buckingham Palace surged up The Mall to hail the royals as they stepped out.
The queen's elderly husband, Prince Philip, was absent for the service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral and carriage procession through London after being admitted to a London hospital with a bladder infection.
But the monarch was flanked on the balcony by her son, Prince Charles, and grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry, as well as the Duchess of Cornwall and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
Soldiers then fired into the air, giving the so-called feu de joie salute, as the national anthem was played to the cheers of the flag-waving crowds.
The queen, smiling, waved repeatedly before retiring back through the balcony doors into the palace.
Squadron Leader Ian Smith, the officer in command of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, said beforehand that the group was honored to be taking part in the jubilee event.
"As a service, the RAF is enormously proud of its heritage, and the opportunity to fly over Buckingham Palace for her majesty with the nation's aviation heritage is something that will remain with us for the rest of our lives," he said.
The queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had been expected to lead the carriage procession to the palace in the 1902 State Landau, the horse-drawn open-top carriage used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge following their wedding at Westminster Abbey last year.
But instead the queen, who smiled as she waved to those lining the route, was accompanied in the ornate carriage by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, the prince also doffing his hat to those they passed.
Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry followed in a second carriage.
Prince Philip, who is 91 this weekend, is recovering at a central London hospital and is expected to remain under observation for several days. "He is, understandably, disappointed," the queen's press secretary said in a statement Monday.
Prince Charles and her grandsons were also at the queen's side for the service of thanksgiving held Tuesday morning at St Paul's Cathedral, the formal highlight of four days of celebrations to mark her 60-year reign.
Following a formal lunch, the queen and other members of the royal family returned in procession to Buckingham Palace, through streets lined with members of the armed services and enthusiastic well-wishers.
On The Mall, near Buckingham Palace, umbrellas went up as raindrops fell, just as a 60-gun salute began. But unlike on Sunday, when torrential rain soaked the jubilee pageant on the River Thames, the showers held off.
A wave of cheers echoed along the tree-lined road leading to the palace as the sound of horses' hooves signaled the approach of the procession.
The roar of the crowd, which had been waiting hours for a glimpse of the queen, reached a crescendo as the royal family passed by in open-topped carriages.
Military marching bands made their way up The Mall after the royals' safe arrival in the palace, followed by thousands of spectators hoping to get close to the palace for a glimpse of the royal family on the balcony.