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by Allan Lynch | March 01, 2012

This year London will dominate the headlines -- and for all the right reasons. London and Great Britain again will dazzle the world with a deft hand at pageantry, planning and performance in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Olympics.

Those who thought last year's royal wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton was extravagant should hold on to their fascinators. That was a relatively modest affair when compared with what's in store for 2012. The Jubilee, which marks only the second time in 1,000 years that a British monarch has reigned this long, is positively historic. While it will be celebrated all year, the highlight is the national long weekend of June 2-5, when Queen Elizabeth II will lead 1,000 boats down the Thames. Related events will include concerts, fireworks and a "big lunch," during which the nation is encouraged to participate in a countrywide picnic.

Since she is often referred to as the Queen of England, it's understandable that many Americans fail to see the significance to anyone outside of Great Britain. People forget that Her Majesty also is Queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, most of the Caribbean and parts of Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. In total, she is Queen to 16 countries plus 14 British Overseas Territories, such as Bermuda, and head of the 54-country Commonwealth, which includes oil-rich Brunei, South Africa and immerging markets like India and Pakistan.

In fact, the Queen reigns over a quarter of the world's population. In that sense, London isn't merely a national capital, it's an international capital and arguably ranks alongside Washington, D.C., Beijing and Moscow as the world's most influential cities. This contributes to its appeal as a meetings destination that is squarely in the world's spotlight.

For groups, the royal theme always has been a draw, says Chris Lynn, director of sales and marketing for London and Partners, the city's destination marketing arm. But now, creative planners can borrow concepts from the Jubilee and weave them into their programs. For example, the boat that the Queen and the Royal Family will use for the water pageant is available for hire from Magna Carta Cruises. It's just one of several dozen rentable vessels plying the Thames, including tall ships that will require Tower Bridge (the one everyone thinks is London Bridge) to raise its bascules.