Australia cheers British Queen's jubilee
Sydney - Australia on Monday congratulated Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on her 60 years on the throne, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard describing the milestone as "truly remarkable".
The queen drew cheering crowds in their thousands when she toured Australia last year, with the country's head of state fondly regarded Down Under despite fitful starts towards a republic during her lifetime.
"For today, it is enough to say we are marking a remarkable event for our monarch," Gillard, who favours a republic, told reporters.
"She is the second person to reach the diamond jubilee anniversary. A truly remarkable event."
Queen Victoria is the only other British monarch to reign for 60 years.
The prime minister said many Australians would want to celebrate the milestone, which comes six decades since the queen ascended to the throne after her father King George VI suddenly died on February 6 1952.
The queen's representative in Australia, Governor-General Quentin Bryce, said she had sent the monarch the nation's "loyal and affectionate greetings and congratulations" on her diamond jubilee.
"The warmth and enthusiasm which greeted Your Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of your 16th visit to our country last year was a reflection of the immense regard in which you continue to be held," she said in her message.
The queen begins the jubilee on Monday with a low-key set of visits to eastern England, kicking off months of celebrations due to culminate in a flotilla of 1 000 boats sailing up the River Thames on June 3.
At the age of 85, the queen's programme will be restricted to Britain, but other members of the royal family will criss-cross the Commonwealth in her place with Prince Charles expected to visit Australia.