WINDSOR, United Kingdom - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her 90th birthday today in her home town of Windsor, Berkshire. The British monarch started the day with a walkabout the town, later her eldest son Prince Charles will host a private family dinner at Windsor Castle.
The Queen has two birthdays every year, one for official purposes celebrated on whichever Saturday falls between 11th and 17th June. Today’s celebrations are for the more conventional birthday most people commemorate.
In Parliament tributes were paid to the Queen, who was already Britain’s longest serving monarch. With the Prime Minister, David Cameron, describing her as a “rock of strength for our nation”. Mr Cameron said: "Her Majesty The Queen has lived through some extraordinary times in our world.
"From the Second World War to the rations with which she bought the material for her wedding dress. From presenting the World Cup to England at Wembley in 1966 to man landing on the moon three years later. From the end of the Cold War to peace in Northern Ireland.
"Throughout it all, as the sands of culture shift and the tides of politics ebb and flow, Her Majesty has been steadfast - a rock of strength for our nation, for our Commonwealth and on many occasions for the whole world."
The Queen took to Twitter to thank all those who had sent their good wishes, in one Tweet she said: “I send my best wishes to those who are celebrating their 90th birthday...on this shared occasion, I send my warm congratulations to you."
As part of the celebrations Buckingham Palace released a series of photos taken by Annie Leibovitz of the Queen. One of them shows her accompanied by her great-grandchildren and some of her younger grandchildren. The photo includes Prince George who, as eldest son of Prince William, is a future king.
Over the last few days Elizabeth has: met with other pensioners celebrating their 90th birthday’s this year, joined a party for the 500th anniversary of the Royal Mail and opened a new bandstand. Throughout the time she has been accompanied by the Conservative Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor, Cllr Eileen Quick and her husband Rev. John Quick. Cllr Quick is the third generation of her family to hold the office, having been preceded by both her father and grandfather.
The last event today will be a lighting of 1000 beacons across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Prince Charles has also recorded a special radio broadcast for the day, in which he reads an edited passage from William Shakespeare's Henry VIII.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary became Queen in 1952 following the death of her father from lung cancer, she was 25 years old. She has been married to Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh since 1947. At the time of her accession to the throne she became Queen of 31 countries, however the policy of decolonization means she only holds power in 16. These include the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
Prior to becoming monarch she had worked as a mechanic in the women’s auxiliary during World War II.