LONDON – Royal-watchers from around the world are converging in London this week to participate in birthday celebrations for the Queen, who at 90, is Britainâ€™s longest-serving monarch.
Queen Elizabeth II has been praised for her “faithful devotion” to the nation at a Thanksgiving Service to mark her 90th birthday.
The Dean of St Paul’s, the very reverend David Ison, paid theÂ tribute as members of the Royal family gathered at the start of a weekend of celebrations.
He also praised her “dutiful commitment, loving leadership, gentle constancy, royal dignity and kindly humanity.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby suggested the Queen had sustained the country “through war and hardship, through turmoil and change”.
And he rejoiced for the way “God’s loving care” had “fearfully and wonderfully” sustained not only the monarch but the Duke of Edinburgh, who is celebrating his 95th birthday today.
As the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived at St Paul’s, a crowd of well-wishers sang Happy Birthday.
They both stood for a moment on the steps of St Paul’s and waved to the crowds before going in.
Earlier a new picture was released, taken by Annie Leibovitz at Windsor Castle after Easter and shows the couple, who have been married for 68 years, sitting side by side.
The Queen is wearing a pale pink cardigan with a pink and white striped blouse in the portrait, while the Duke is wearing a pink shirt under a light brown jacket.
As a couple they have marked many milestones together, with the Queen often taking centre stage and the Duke of Edinburgh supporting her as Britain’s longest serving consort.
His friend, Martin Palmer, told Sky News that Prince Philip is probably more than happy that the attention will be on his wife’s birthday, but expects the family will still make a fuss.
He said: “The great thing about Philip is he’s not pompous. So I think he will enjoy the informality … He’ll just have a good time with his family and close friends and carry on as usual.”
The Queen was born on 21 April, but public celebrations for her birthday traditionally happen in June.
Following the service of thanksgiving, a lunch for the Governors General of all Commonwealth Realms will be held at Buckingham Palace.
On Saturday nearly 1,500 service personnel, together with 200 horses and over 400 musicians will perform the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony.
And on Sunday, The Mall will be transformed into a giant street party called The Patron’s Lunch to celebrate Her Majesty’s patronage of more than 600 organisations – with 10,000 people sitting down for lunch at a cost of Â£150 per ticket.
Prince Philip will attend all the events with the Queen.
Despite turning 95 today it will be business as usual, just like the hundreds of engagements he still carries out every year.
Peter Westgarth, chief executive of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, told Sky News: “There is definitely an understanding out there that somebody at 95 still being a stalwart to the Queen is an extraordinary thing and I think that is appreciated.
“However he does so much more – so, so much more – and thus being our 60th anniversary he has been involved in some amazing events for us.”