Last Thursday, Queen Elizabeth II turned 90, becoming the longest reigning monarch in the history of Britain -- and in fact the world!
The streets of Windsor Palace - the Queen's residence, were lined with people carrying flowers, cakes and cards. She mingled with thousands of well wishers and accepted their gifts.
At another public appearance, the Queen lit the first of over 1,000 beacons that will burn around the world out of of love and respect for this kind monarch. Gun salutes thundered out across London and other cities as well.
No celebration is complete without time with close family. Her son, Prince Charles, held a family dinner to mark the occasion. She also took family portraits with her two youngest grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, including Prince George - son of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on April 21, 1926 to Prince Albert (later King George VI) and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. It is ironic that when she was born Princess Elizabeth was never expected to take the throne.
When her grandfather King George V died, her father's elder brother Prince Edward should have been crowned King. However, Prince Edward who was heir to the throne, abdicated the crown after falling in love with a divorced American Wallis Simpson. His younger brother, Prince Albert, was crowned King George VI in 1936.
On the death of her father, at the age of 25, Princess Elizabeth was crowned the Queen in 1952. Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten Duke of Edinburgh in 1947. Together the royal couple have overseen more than six decades of a largely peaceful reign. The Queen's role is ceremonial - she does not weigh in on political matters nor expresses her opinions. She, however, has good working relationship with U.K's Prime Ministers with whom she discusses political matters.
Changing With The Times
The world has changed dramatically since Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1952. She has seen the gradual fall of the British Empire, as former colonies became independent. She has witnessed the collapse of communism, advances in space technology, rise of women's movements, and our world reshaped by computers and mobile phones.
On a more personal front, she has endured the loss of close family members and seen some of her children's marriages break up. Despite the many tragedies, she is credited with moving the monarchy to modern times, and her openness and kindness has earned her the love of her subjects. That love is clearly on display on the streets of London and across the United Kingdom and its territories.
While enjoying the celebrations, the Queen went about her royal duties on her 90th birthday. She met with visiting U.S President Obama and his wife, and marked the 500th anniversary of U.K's postal service.