England’s King Richard III entertained a score or two of tailors to study fashions to adorn his body, according to Shakespeare. When she was 21 – nearly five years before she became queen – she promised the people of Britain and the Commonwealth that “my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service”.
The collection will be showcased at the Queen’s three official residences – opening at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on April the 21st. The majority of Britons have lived under no other monarch.
Close aides say Elizabeth, who has been on the throne for 64 years, was far more interested in events to mark her 90th birthday than she had been about overtaking her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria last September as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
From the rise of fascism in Europe, the Second World War and the fall of the British Empire, to the social liberation of the Sixties, class struggles of the Eighties and the dawn of the internet, the Queen has seen more change than any of her predecessors. Hundreds had lined up hours beforehand, carrying cakes, cards, balloons and Union Jack flags.
This was of course in the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in a vehicle crash, when, for a few brief days, Her Majesty appeared to have lost her touch, choosing to remain sequestered in Balmoral Castle despite a tumultuous public clamour for her to return to London and join the unfolding emotional meltdown.
“She’s such an icon and a real role model for the children of today”.
Having visited nearly every area of the country during her reign, she is said to be “never happier” than when spending her summer break at the Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire, her private home handed down through generations of royals.
Elsewhere, the day was being marked with an eruption of pomp. Royal gun salutes were fired in London, while the Westminster Abbey bells tolled in the queen’s honor.
The royal birthday girl lit the principal beacon, which set in train a series of over 1,000 beacons across the country and worldwide.
Leibovitz, who has photographed Elizabeth before, took the official pictures at Windsor Castle, west of London.
Not everyone in Britain has succumbed to royal-mania. The crowds lining the streets near Windsor Castle sang “Happy Birthday” and “God Save the Queen” to their monarch.