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Secret donors, foreign firms bankroll UK's Diamond Jubilee celebration

Live from London, Meredith Vieira previews Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee weekend, including never-before-seen home movies released by Prince Charles. Camilla Tominey and NBC's Ben Fogle chat about the excitement in the air.


LONDON -- It will be a weekend of celebration across Britain. Not least among suffering retailers, who amid the country's double-dip recession will be cheering as loudly as the flag-flying crowds lining London's River Thames to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

But despite the estimated 823 million pounds ($1.25 billion) expected to be spent by revellers this weekend, British businesses have proved stingy when it comes to raising the funds for the piece de resistance: Sunday's advertising-free pageant will include a three-hour flotilla featuring more than 1,000 boats.

The committee responsible for the event earlier this year tried entice British companies into contributing to its 10.5 million pound ($16 million) cost. But with a ban on advertising on either the riverside or on participating boats, it proved to be a difficult sell and organizers had to draw on contributions from foreign companies and individuals to make up the shortfall.

Jubilee fever is gripping the U.K. in the form of royal souvenirs – but the ultimate Jubilee gift may be a one-of-a-kind desk complete with a hidden diamond, which will be auctioned off for charity. NBC's Ben Fogle reports.

Lord Salisbury, the chairman of Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, reportedly said that he did not wish to empty the public purse.  

Instead organizers had to approach a number of non-British companies to pay for the costs, which include 7,000 stewards as well as festivities planned in Battersea Park.

'Six-figure checks'
Official supporters include American oil company Chevron, advertising company AMV BBDO and Boris Johnson, who is London's New York-born mayor. An additional 20 publicly listed donors have contributed to the tab.

Read more stories from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Companies from America, Australia and the Far East have reportedly signed "six-figure checks" as contributions.

However, the British public will never know the full list of organizations that contributed to the funding as the Jubilee Foundation only lists the donors who wish to be named.

While more than a century separates festivities marking Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne from those honoring her predecessor Queen Victoria, surprising similarities connect the commemorations. NBC News' Jim Maceda reports.

Among this list there are 14 U.K. individuals and companies and six foreign individuals and businesses. This list includes American banking giants Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan and Japanese brokering house Nomura Group.

According to a Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant spokeswoman, there are "a considerable number of contributors who have made donations and do not wish to be named."

More Diamond Jubilee coverage from Britain's ITV News

Other events, where companies are allowed to market themselves, have proved more popular to companies.

With just days to go until the country's largest river event in 350 years, a complex security operation has kicked in to ensure the safety of the thousand boats that will accompany the Queen down the Thames for the Jubilee river pageant. The flotilla will include sailing ships, music barges and a Hawaiian war canoe. ITN's Fatima Manji reports.

The biggest commercial boon will be the Queen's Jubilee Picnic, to be held in the gardens of Buckingham Palace on Monday and attended by 13,000 guests. 

Supermarket giant Waitrose may be providing 10,000 free hampers for the Jubilee Picnic but its commercial gains are already pouring in.

Waitrose has predicted its strawberry sales will increase seven-fold and "sales of Elderflower cordial have been soaring by an incredible 1,000 percent."

London is getting dressed up for the Jubilee weekend .. hanging out the bunting for the Queen's procession. In the royal mews at Buckingham Palace they're preparing for a second grand royal occasion in just over a year. The carriage that will take the Queen and Prince Philip back after a service at St Paul's Cathedral s being polished up again. ITN's Tim Ewart reports. 

A survey by Moneysupermarket.com also suggests Britons will spend 823 million pounds ($1.26 billion), or an average of 40 pounds ($61) per person on Jubilee-related purchases.

However, not everything is in the best possible taste. Diamond Jubilee sick bags are among the items being sold.

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