Queen Elizabeth II turns 96

The world’s oldest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, celebrated her 96th birthday in private on Thursday, while London celebrated their sovereign with cannon fire and military bands playing “Happy Birthday”.

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Largely withdrawn from public life due to mobility problems, the sovereign, who passed the milestone of 70 years of reign in February, chose to celebrate this anniversary in the tranquility of the royal estate of Sandringham, 200 kilometers north of London.

According to the press, she is spending a few days at Wood Farm, a relatively modest home loved by her husband Philip, who died last year aged 99.

However, hundreds of people gathered outside Windsor Castle (West London), where she normally resides. A Coldstream Guards marching band in red tunics and black bearskin hats played “Happy Birthday” there, and dozens of cannon fire rang out at lunchtime, including in Hyde Park, with another marching band.

To mark the occasion, Buckingham Palace released a photo taken last month showing the sovereign in a dark green capeline coat holding two white-coated ponies, a breed from the north of England, by the bridle in Windsor Gardens.

A Barbie doll with her picture was also up for sale, wearing an ivory dress, a large blue ribbon and a small tiara.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to the sovereign on Twitter and referred to “70 years of impeccable commitment”. His grandson William and wife Kate hailed “an inspiration to so many in Britain, the Commonwealth and the world”.

The first few months of his ‘platinum anniversary’, which will feature four days of much-anticipated celebrations in early June, have not been easy, between his health issues, sexual assault allegations against his son Andrew – which recently came to a financial settlement with his Prosecutors – and questions about the future of the monarchy and the Commonwealth.

Since a brief hospital stay in October, Elizabeth II’s appearances have become extremely infrequent, although she continues to undertake “light duties” at Windsor Castle, mainly via videoconferencing.

However, on March 29, she attended a religious ceremony at Westminster Abbey in honor of Prince Philip. It was his first major public appearance in months.

Arrived on the arm of her son Andrew, leaning on a cane, we saw her there, frail and dignified, walking slowly and greeting several participants after the ceremony.

She herself confided in mid-February that she “couldn’t move” and showed her left leg at a hearing in Windsor.


According to the British press, she would use a wheelchair privately and an adapted lift would have been installed at her Scottish residence in Balmoral.

Adding to these problems, she fell ill with Covid-19 in February. “It makes you very tired and exhausted, doesn’t it, this terrible pandemic,” the sovereign recently confided.

“She’s in great shape,” her grandson Harry told NBC on Wednesday after making a surprise visit to his wife Meghan last week. She hadn’t seen the couple, now settled in California, for two years.

Since October, the Queen has largely delegated the heir to the throne to her son Charles, 73. But he is significantly less popular – 43% in favour, compared to 69% for the Queen – according to an Ipsos poll in March, and also much less popular than his son Prince William, 39 (64%), and wife of the latter. Kate (60%). 42% of Brits would prefer Charles to abdicate in favor of William.

But William and Kate’s recent trip to the Caribbean to celebrate the monarchy’s attachment to the former colonies to mark the anniversary has at times prompted tense confrontations, particularly over the UK’s slavery past, which bode trouble ahead.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness also considered the transition of his country, whose head of state is the Queen, to a republican regime to be “inevitable”.

The life of Queen Elizabeth II in 10 key dates

Here are the most important dates of Elizabeth II, who celebrates her 96th birthday on Thursday.

April 21, 1926: born in London.

December 12, 1936: Heir to the British Crown after the unexpected accession of her father George VI.

November 20, 1947: married Philip Mountbatten, a distant cousin.

November 14, 1948: Birth of Charles. The couple will have three more children: Anne, Andrew and Edward.

February 6, 1952: ascended the throne at the age of 25, after the death of his father from lung cancer at the age of 56. His coronation at Westminster Abbey took place on June 2, 1953.

1992: conjures up an “annus horribilis”. Three of his children separated from their spouses and Windsor Castle was engulfed in a devastating fire.

Aug. 31, 1997: criticized for the timidity of his response to the death of Princess Diana, which does not keep up with popular emotions.

September 9, 2015: She breaks the record for longevity on the British throne.

April 9, 2021: Death of her husband Prince Philip at the age of 99.

February 6, 2022: She reaches the milestone of 70 years of reign, a platinum jubilee celebrated for four days in June.

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