Britain today celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday with gun salutes, musical bands and church services across the country, as Prime Minister David Cameron led the nation in paying tributes to the UK’s oldest and longest-serving monarch calling her a “rock of strength” for the country and the Commonwealth.
The monarch was at one of her palaces outside London in Windsor Castle for her big day, where she and husband Prince Philip took a round of the town in an open top royal vehicle, waving at cheering crowds of thousands of her subjects lined up on the streets.
She sliced into a three-tier birthday cake created by Bangladeshi-origin British chef Nadiya Hussein, winner of the ‘Great British Bake Off’ show, especially for the 90th celebrations as the crowds sang ‘Happy Birthday’. “Thanks you for the lovely warm wishes on The Queens 90th Birthday,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
The Queen, dressed in a spring green outfit, remarked that it was a “lovely day” as she unveiled a plaque marking “The Queen’s Walkway” at the foot of Castle Hill during a walkabout the town of Windsor.
The Walkway was designed by the UK’s Outdoor Trust to symbolically recognise the moment that Elizabeth II became Britain’s longest reigning monarch on September 9, 2015 after more than 63 years on the throne, linking 63 significant points in Windsor.
Prime Minister David Cameron led the tributes by referring to the Queen as a “Rock of strength” while Prince Charles, the Queen’s heir, recorded a special birthday message for his mother in which he reads an edited passage from William Shakespeare’s Henry VIII for radio broadcast during the day.
To mark the queen’s birthday, gun salutes of 21 shots, the standard royal gun salute, rang out at locations including Hillsborough Castle, Cardiff Castle, and Edinburgh Castle.
In London, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery staged a 41-gun salute at midday in Hyde Park. The Honourable Artillery Company fired a 62-gun salute across the Thames from the Tower of London at an hour later.
After the Queen lights the first beacon in Windsor, more than 900 beacons across the UK and the Commonwealth will be lit up to mark her birthday.
Members of the UK’s Army cadet force will take beacons to the top of the highest peaks of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In an address to the House of Commons to mark the occasion, Cameron said the queen had been “steadfast, a rock of strength for our nation, for our Commonwealth and on many occasions for the whole world”. He said Britain was “uniquely blessed” to have her and praised the Queen’s “unshakeable sense of duty”.
A photograph of the monarch with young Royal Family members has been released. The image, one of three taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, shows the Queen surrounded by her five great-grandchildren and her two youngest grandchildren.