|Queen Elizabeth II on her 87th birthday - April 2013|
How I would love to be in England this week when Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 90th birthday on Thursday (and again in June, when her official birthday events take place).
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, Prince 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.
The day before her birthday - Wednesday April 20 - 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. During her 64-year reign the Queen has been served by 12 prime ministers from Sir Winston Churchill to David Cameron, while Barack Obama is the 12th US president to hold office over the same period. Over the decades Britain has undergone major transformations from technological advances like computers and supersonic flight to developments in society and the political landscape.
Her personal life has brought her happiness, with the monarch, who acceded to the throne at the age of 25, now surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She has been married to Philip for more than 68 years. But she endured her ''annus horribilis'' in 1992 - the year Charles separated from the Princess of Wales, the Duke of York split from the Duchess of York, the Princess Royal divorced Captain Mark Phillips, and Windsor Castle went up in flames.
The woman who is seen by many as a stabilising force in national life was never expected to be Queen when she was born on April 21 1926 in a town house in London's Mayfair and named Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York - the first child of the Duke of York, later King George VI. Her destiny was changed with the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, for the woman he loved - American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
Famously Princess Elizabeth dedicated her life to her future role as monarch on her 21st birthday - vowing to serve the Commonwealth: ''I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.''
Courtesy of http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/prince-of-wales-to-host-private-family-dinner-for-queens-90th-birthday-11364052477953#.VxOaVbjY1rc.facebook