Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has delighted millions of viewers by appearing in a surprise comic sketch with Paddington Bear to kick-start the country's Jubilee concert.
The 96-year-old monarch and the famous bear – both described as much-loved British institutions – tapped out the beat of "We Will Rock You" together on china teacups using silver spoons as a unique way of getting the celebrations under way.
With the secretly pre-recorded two-and-a-half-minute sequence played at the start of the televised BBC’s Platinum Party at the Palace, the unlikely duo set the rhythm for opening act Queen + Adam Lambert – who joined in on the main stage.
Tens of thousands of people flocked to Buckingham Palace to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee on Saturday and watch the pop concert.
A host of performers will appear on stage, including Alicia Keys, Diana Ross and Rod Stewart, before the queen's son and heir Prince Charles, and her grandson Prince William, pay tribute to the record-breaking monarch following her 70 years on the throne.
By early evening, tens of thousands of people had gathered on the Mall, the grand boulevard that runs up to the palace, and in a nearby park to watch the concert on big screens, while those with tickets surrounded the stage on a warm evening.
The monarch was not present at Saturday's concert due to the "episodic mobility problems" that have caused her to cancel a number of engagements recently. Earlier in the day she also missed the Epsom Derby horse race.
Her daughter Princess Anne, who competed in the three-day equestrian event in the 1976 Olympics, stood in for her mother, who has rarely missed the race during her record-breaking reign and watched on television from her Windsor Castle home.
The queen instead appeared digitally in the comic sketch with the digitally animated bear, whom she met for a chaotic cream tea at ‘Buckingham Palace’ in the footage, revealing she shares Paddington’s love of marmalade sandwiches and keeps an emergency stash in her trademark handbag.
The duffle-coat wearing bear showed the queen how he ensured he always had his favourite treat on him just in case, lifting up his red hat to reveal his snack.
The queen responded by revealing “So do I” before opening her bag and declaring “I keep mine in here” to show her very own ready-made supply of the bread and orange preserve staple.
Accident-prone Paddington was shown causing mayhem by accidentally depriving the understanding sovereign of another cup of tea and spraying cream from a chocolate eclair over a Palace Footman.
The bear from "deepest darkest Peru" congratulated the queen on her reign of 70 years, saying: “Happy Jubilee Ma’am. And thank you. For everything.”
The queen replied: “That’s very kind.”
It was reminiscent of the queen’s James Bond skit for the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, when the monarch met 007, played by Daniel Craig, and then appeared to parachute into the stadium, with the help of a body double.
'Too fun to miss'
Paddington and Queen Elizabeth were pictured sat opposite each other in ornate chairs at a table, laid for afternoon tea, covered with a white linen cloth in an opulent room.
Buckingham Palace said the queen felt the opportunity to invite Paddington to tea was “too fun to miss”.
The palace said: “Her Majesty is well known for her sense of humour, so it should be no surprise that she decided to take part in tonight’s sketch.
“There was an interest in the filming and animation process and the opportunity to invite a famous bear to tea was just too much fun to miss.
“While the queen may not be attending the concert in person, she was very keen that people understood how much it meant to her and that all those watching had a great time.”
The film was kept under wraps for several months by Buckingham Palace, BBC Studios and Heyday Films/StudioCanal.
Actor Ben Whishaw voice Paddington, just as he did in the hit movies of the children’s story.