It was a laid-back family day spent at home with little fuss. The Queen’s 89th birthday, on April 21, passed quietly with Her Majesty spending the day at Windsor Castle with her husband Prince Philip.
She took a rare week off from official engagements and instead of being based at Buckingham Palace, where she normally lives during week days, the Queen stayed at Windsor, which is a lot more informal and relaxed. Her sons, Prince Charles (66), Prince Andrew (55) and Prince Edward (51), all kept their diaries free so they could join her.
The Queen still spent the morning going through her red box of government documents, as she does every day, except Christmas, but also took time to open a selection of birthday cards sent to her from around the world. Her staff reply to every single card she receives.
She doesn’t like a fuss being made over her actual birthday – her official one is celebrated with the Trooping the Colour pageant in June – although she accepts that there may have to be some fanfare next year when she turns 90. The Queen also says she does not want a big deal made on September 9 this year, when she becomes the longest serving British monarch, passing Queen Victoria’s reign of 63 years and 216 days.
Palace insiders say her decision not to celebrate the milestone is due to respect for her great-great-grandmother. The Queen is said to hope that if the event is marked at all, it is done so reverently, without any suggestion that what is being celebrated is Victoria’s death.
In the meantime, another royal anniversary was celebrated last month. It was the fourth wedding anniversary of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, on April 29. William’s father, Charles and his stepmother Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, marked their 10th anniversary on April 9.