The Queen was praised as an “inspiration” to so many in the UK and Commonwealth by the royal family as she celebrated her 96th birthday at her Sandringham estate.
Gun salutes rang out across the capital in honour of the Queen’s anniversary and Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to the monarch for her “dedicated and faultless service” over 70 years.
The Queen, who has faced mobility issues in recent months, was photographed being driven on her Sandringham Estate where she has retreated to celebrate the milestone.
But in other developments, the comments of her grandson the Duke of Sussex about ensuring she is “protected” have sparked strong reaction from commentators.
Speaking to NBC’s Today show about his meeting with the Queen last week, Harry said: “She’s always got a great sense of humour with me and I’m just making sure that she’s protected and got the right people around her.”
William and Kate were questioned about the duke’s controversial comment when they left the London headquarters of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) following a visit to learn about their work in Ukraine supporting the humanitarian effort.
As the couple stepped into their chauffeur-driven car a female broadcaster shouted: “Sir, does the Queen need protecting?” but the duke and duchess did not respond.
In a birthday tribute, William and Kate’s official account tweeted a picture of the couple with the Queen at the Chelsea Flower Show a few years ago and another image of the monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh surrounded by their great-grandchildren, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
The message read: “Wishing Her Majesty The Queen a very happy 96th birthday today!
“An inspiration to so many across the UK, the Commonwealth and the world, it’s particularly special to be celebrating in this #PlatinumJubilee year.”
The official Twitter account of the British monarchy also recognised the Queen’s milestone with a black and white photograph of the then Princess Elizabeth.
The tribute read: “Happy Birthday Your Majesty!
“Today as The Queen turns 96, we’re sharing this photograph of the young Princess Elizabeth aged 2.
“Then, in 1928, it was never expected she would be Queen, and this year Her Majesty is celebrating her #PlatinumJubilee, a first in British history.”
Charles and Camilla’s official Twitter account said: “Wishing Her Majesty The Queen a particularly special 96th birthday today, as we celebrate her Platinum Jubilee year.”
Happy Birthday Your Majesty!
Today as The Queen turns 96, we’re sharing this photograph of the young Princess Elizabeth aged 2.
Then, in 1928, it was never expected she would be Queen, and this year Her Majesty is celebrating her #PlatinumJubilee - a first in British history. pic.twitter.com/DnwsMU81I3
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 21, 2022
The Queen’s birthday has been marked by the release of a picture showing her indulging her passion for horses and ponies.
Standing with two of her Fell ponies, the Queen was photographed as the build-up begins for the Royal Windsor Horse Show, which commissioned the image.
In his tribute, Mr Johnson said in a pre-recorded video posted on Twitter: “I’m delighted to wish Your Majesty a very happy birthday and to pay my heartfelt tribute to your 70 years of dedicated and faultless service to our country and the Commonwealth.
“Millions of people cherish a particular moment of your reign, and for me, it has to be the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012, when Your Majesty arrived, at least figuratively, by jumping from a helicopter escorted by James Bond.
“And then the trumpets sounded, and Your Majesty made your entrance and the entire stadium rose as one and burst into applause.
“Thousands of people from almost every country in the world, with a billion more watching at home.
“And that fantastic moment showed yet again Your Majesty’s unique ability to bring people together in joyful harmony.”
At noon the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, named by the Queen’s father King George VI 75 years ago, fired a 41-gun salute from London’s Green Park.
Then an hour later the Honourable Artillery Company fired a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London, an extra 21 for the City of London.