LONDON (Reuters) - Flag-waving crowds of Britons lined the streets and politicians proffered gushing praise as Queen Elizabeth launched a nationwide tour of her realm on Thursday to celebrate 60 years as monarch. Elizabeth’s four-month tour will take in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as part of celebrations for her reign which began on February 6, 1952.

It starts in Leicester in central England, where the 85-year-old monarch will travel by train with her husband Philip and Catherine, the wife of grandson Prince William, for a visit to a university, cathedral and the city centre.

“The excitement and anticipation felt around our campus since this visit was announced is a measure of the great affection our students and staff have for the queen,” said Dominic Shellard, the vice-chancellor of De Montfort University.

“This special celebration will be history in the making, not just for De Montfort University, but for the people of Leicester, and I have no doubt memories of this occasion will be cherished, for years to come, by everyone who witnesses it.” The focal point of the diamond jubilee festivities will take place over four days in June, including a 1,000-ship pageant on the River Thames through London and a concert at Buckingham Palace.