There was a star-studded international cast and the flag-waving fanfare of an adoring public, but it was a subdued Queen who attended a Diamond Jubilee concert in her honour, without her devoted consort.
As Prince Philip recuperated in hospital just a few kilometres away receiving treatment for a bladder infection, the Queen was a late arrival for Monday night's concert outside the front gates of Buckingham Palace, part of the celebrations for her 60-year reign.
"The only sad thing about this evening is that my father couldn't be here with us because unfortunately he has taken unwell," Prince Charles told the crowd.
Arriving at the custom-built arena in the palace forecourt, some 90 minutes after the concert officially kicked off, the 86-year-old Queen wore a full-length dark cape, gave only a simple wave, and was later reportedly seen wearing yellow earplugs.
While the monarch missed performances by upbeat Jessie J, hula-hooping Grace Jones, salmon-suited Cliff Richard, Welsh crooner Tom Jones and a duet by Gary Barlow and Cheryl Cole, Australian songstress Kylie Minogue performed to a full royal box.
Dressed in a black shorts suit with silver trim, including the outline of a crown on the back of her jacket, Minogue entered the stage with her trademark skip before singing a medley of her hits including Spinning Around, Can't Get You Out Of My Head, Step Back In Time, and All The Lovers.
Fellow Australian Rolf Harris also took to the stage as a presenter throughout the concert.
"We have seen tonight some incredible performances. We have had opera, pop, rock, swing, punk, wrap, instruments and trumpets and drummers. If I had known I would have brought along my didgeridoo and wobble board," Harris said.
"We are here celebrating a generous and compassionate lady who has given 60 years of service to the people of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. She has been an inspiration to millions, she's touched hearts throughout the world ... We wish you a healthy and happy and long reign."
Indigenous Australian guitarist and vocalist Gurrumul came on stage for a live performance of Sing, a song specially written for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and featuring some 200 artists from across the Commonwealth.
Flags waved madly and some dancing movement could be seen from the royal box which housed many senior family members including Charles and wife Camilla, Prince William and wife Catherine, Prince Harry, Prince Edward and wife Sophie.
Following rousing performances by a swinging and suited Robbie Williams, a sparkling Shirley Bassey, and Elton John who offered the Queen his "congratulations on a great achievement", came an amazing finale.
From atop the palace, British band Madness played their hits Our House and It Must Be Love, before handing over the stage to Sir Paul McCartney who presented some Beatles classics and the theme from the James Bond movie Live and Let Die during which the stage came alive with fireworks.
"Your Majesty, a Diamond Jubilee is a unique and special event. Some of us have had the joy of spending three jubilees with you and I have the medals to prove it," heir to the throne, Charles said, inspiring audience laughter.
"This is an opportunity to thank you and my father for always being there for us ... and for making us proud to be British ... proud to be part of something as unique as the Commonwealth which through your leadership, has given us that essential sense of unity through diversity."
Appearing on stage in a gold lame cocktail dress, the sovereign remained tight-lipped through her eldest son's speech and a moving rendition of God Save The Queen, before lighting the national beacon and triggering a spectacular fireworks display.
* The Nine Network and its regional affiliates will show the Diamond Jubilee Concert at 8pm (AEST) on Tuesday.