(WRIC/ABC/AP) — The queen of England is celebrating her 90th birthday today.
Queen Elizabeth II through the years
Queen Elizabeth II through the years x
Her government and subjects are having gun salutes, fireworks and tributes in Parliament in her honor, and televised retrospectives are being broadcast of a royal life that has stretched from the Roaring ’20s to the Internet age.
The queen was born Princess Elizabeth on April 21, 1926, and became queen at 25 upon the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952. A majority of Britons have lived under no other monarch.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the queen “has lived through some extraordinary times,” from World War II to the moon landing, the end of the Cold War and the advent of peace in Northern Ireland.
Cameron led tributes Thursday in the House of Commons to the monarch and her “unshakable sense of duty,” pointing out that the queen had provided counsel to 12 British prime ministers and met a quarter of all the U.S. presidents in history.
“Her Majesty has been steadfast — a rock of strength for our nation, for our Commonwealth and on many occasions for the whole world,” he declared.
At dusk, the Parliament building will be lit up in the red, white and blue of the Union Jack.
The queen is spending the day at Windsor Castle and will greet well-wishers on a walk through the town west of London. Hundreds have lined up hours beforehand, carrying cakes, cards, balloons and Union Jack flags.
Buckingham Palace has issued three portraits by photographer Annie Leibovitz to mark the day. One shows the queen surrounded by seven young grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The queen cradles 11-month-old Princess Charlotte in her lap, while Mia Tindall — 2-year-old daughter of the queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips and her husband Mike Tindal— stands clutching the monarch’s black handbag.
Another shows the queen with Princess Anne, her only daughter. The third shows her on the steps of Windsor Castle with four of her beloved dogs: corgis Willow and Holly and dorgis (corgi-dachshund crossbreeds) Vulcan and Candy.
The queen will receive more birthday greetings on Friday, when she hosts U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama for lunch at Windsor Castle.
Here are some fun facts about the queen:
- She was nicknamed “Lilibet” by her family as a child.
- She volunteered as a mechanic during World War II.
Watch the video above to learn more about Queen Elizabeth II in a minute.