Friday, 10 June 2016

A royal turnout to celebrate the Queen at 90

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral
June 10th 2016, London

It was a very special occasion. The National Service of Thanksgiving for the 90th birthday of the Queen and the 95th birthday of the Duke of Edinburgh took place today with dozens of members of the House of Windsor at the ceremony, the start of three days of celebrations for the Queen's official 90th birthday. They joined politicians, celebrities and hundreds of guests at the ceremony at St Paul's - a special day for a special event with the promise of much more to come. 

The service took place on the actual 95th birthday of the Duke of Edinburgh although he himself has said the focus should be on his wife. The royal couple ended up keeping everyone waiting as their car was held up by an accident. The 11am start turned into something a little later but that didn't change the almost festive atmosphere inside St Paul's. Guests, royal and non royal, had come to celebrate.


Guests had started arriving several hours before the official start time of 11 with royal guests starting to take their seats just after ten. It was a bit like spot a Windsor at times as cousins, distant and not so distant, began to walk the steps of St Paul's. And we got the always welcome sight of royals on a bus as many of the regal relations were sharing a coach to get them between events on this big day.

Some of the faces were rather familiar - the Duke of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent made early appearances. Viscountess Linley and her children were also spotted along with Lady Sarah Chatto.

But it's not often we see Lord and Lady Frederick Windsor or Lady Gabriella Windsor at royal engagements. while more distant relations like Amelia Windsor (daughter of the Earl of Ulster and granddaugther to the Duke of Kent) are rarely seen. So this was a bit of a royal spotting treat all round.
Once they were settled in the Cathedral, the Queen's immediate family began to arrive with the Princess Royal and her husband accompanying Princess Alexandra into St Paul's.
Anne's children made their entrances too - there was perhaps more attention on Peter Phillips this time round as he has a central role in the weekend celebrations having helped organise (not uncontroversially) the Patron's Lunch which will take place this Sunday.  His wife, Autumn, and Zara and Mike Tindall seemed quite happy to let the spotlight fall on him.
The Duke of York looked rather solemn walking down the aisle with his two daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.

In contrast the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their two children, Louise and James, seemed to be getting into the party spirit. 

The surge of photographers around royal cars was noticeable as William, Kate and Harry arrived. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their permanent royal companion made their way into St Paul's just ahead of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall with both Kate and Camilla in blue.
And then it was time to wait. 

For about ten anxious minutes, the wait went on. And then suddenly, the trumpets sounded and fanfares began and the Queen and the Duke swept into sight. They walked up the steps of the Cathedral and paused, briefly, to turn round and wave to those waiting to see them. There were thousands outside and hundreds inside but that didn't seem to matter.

Because after they had greeted those waiting to welcome them to St Paul's. Elizabeth and Philip walked into position waiting to make their entrance. And it seemed as if it was just them. There were smiles, there was chat and it looked as if both were trying to keep emotions in check. 

The world was watching and waiting to celebrate but the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were sharing these few minutes alone.

The service included a reading by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and a prayer read by Hilda Price who was born on the same day as the Queen, April 26th21st 1926.  TV stars David Attenborough and Claire Balding also too part in a ceremony filled with joy.

Afterwards, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh held a reception at Buckingham Palace for all the Governors General.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry joined many other members of the Royal Family at a reception at the Guildhall for guests at the 90th birthday service.

This is the first of three days of events to mark the Queen's 90th birthday with Trooping the Colour tomorrow and the Patron's Lunch on Sunday.  The celebratory tone has been set and the party has begun.

Photo credit: The Royal Family Twitter

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