Britain’s longest reigning monarch becomes a nonagenarian – the country’s first sovereign to do so – on Thursday.
Heir to the throne the Prince of Wales will stage a private family dinner for the royal matriarch, but Elizabeth II will also be out and about greeting the public on her big day.
She will step out of her Windsor Castle home, where she has been staying during Easter Court, and go on a walkabout in the town centre, meeting the crowds who are expected to gather and are likely to sing her Happy Birthday.
The head of state – with the Duke of Edinburgh, Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at her side – will also light the first in a chain of more than 1,000 beacons across Britain and the world to mark her personal anniversary.
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On Wednesday, the day before her birthday, the monarch will meet postmen and women on a visit to the Royal Mail Windsor delivery office to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the postal service and open a new bandstand in Alexandra Gardens, close to the castle.
In June, thousands of well-wishers are also expected to attend celebrations planned to mark her official birthday.
A series of events will be staged, from a St Paul’s Cathedral service of thanksgiving to the traditional Trooping the Colour ceremony, also known as the Queen’s Birthday Parade.
The Queen is said to be excited by the prospect of 10,000 guests joining herself, Philip, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry in The Mall for a sit-down celebration called the Patron’s Lunch.
It will honour her lifetime dedication to service and will be the culmination of the festivities, with communities around the country encouraged to hold local street parties.
When the Queen became the nation’s longest-reigning monarch last autumn – passing Queen Victoria’s record – she was matter of fact about the achievement, remarking that living to a ripe old age can bring many anniversaries.
“Inevitably a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception,” she said.