“Rock of strength”

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 90th birthday

(CHRIS JACKSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Kingdom is marking Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday on Thursday, with celebrations across the country. Several royal gun salutes were fired in UK’s capital cities, and the Queen greeted the crowds during a walkabout in the streets of Windsor. Later tonight, she will officially light the first of more than 900 beacons across the U.K. and the world to mark the joyous occasion. Her eldest son, Prince Charles, recorded a special radio broadcast in which he read an excerpt from William Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. In a tribute to the House of Commons, PM David Cameron praised her for being steadfast, “a rock of strength for our nation, for our Commonwealth and on many occasions for the whole world.” With the times as always, the Queen thanked people on Twitter for sending her happy birthday messages and tweeted: “I send my best wishes to those who are celebrating their 90th birthday…on this shared occasion, I send my warm congratulations to you.”

For the occasion, three photographs by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz were released: one showing the Queen with her five great-grandchildren and her two youngest grandchildren, another informal picture with her daughter Princess Anne and a final one on the grounds of Windsor Castle, where she poses with four of her dogs. Of course, even a Queen’s birthday is not complete without cake — so the UK’s longest-reigning monarch will be feted with a birthday cake by reality TV’s Great British Bake Off champion Nadiya Hussain, who prepared an orange drizzle cake with a butter cream and marmalade filling for Her Majesty.

Finally, finishing off her “birthday week” in style, she will be joined for lunch on Friday at Windsor Castle by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Read the full story at the BBC.

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