To reach the age of 90 is an achievement; for the Queen, who celebrates her 90th birthday today, it is unique as she becomes the first British monarch to reach this milestone.
I’m spending the day in Windsor, where the Queen will be carrying out a walkabout outside the castle. Although the official celebrations for the Queen’s 90th birthday will take place around her official birthday in June, it’s expected I will be joining thousands of people who want to see a glimpse of the Queen on her actual birthday.
It’s difficult to explain adequately quite why she inspires such feelings in us.
Certainly, she is living history: an embodiment of the institution of monarchy - but it’s more than that. We also admire her for herself: her sense of dedication and of duty.
On this day in 1947, her 21st birthday, Princess Elizabeth dedicated her life #whether it be long or short’ to the service of the service of the Commonwealth. This she has done with abundance. It cannot always have been easy. The death of her father when she was 25 saw her life change forever. She could no longer live a life similar to the Duchess of Cambridge today; of the wife of a serving officer with young children punctuated by royal engagements.
From then on, the royal round has been her life. She often had to spend large amounts of time away on tour or on royal duties, meaning she was not able to spend as much time with her children than she would have liked. I’ve often been asked if I think the Queen would follow the example of some of her European counterparts and abdicate. I think it extremely unlikely that she would consider a retirement, however honourable, unless forced by medical reasons. The Queen’s cousin, The Hon Margaret Rhodes, has said the Queen would only consider this if she were suffering from dementia or incapacitated by a condition such as a serious stroke.
Although other members of the Royal Family are taking on some engagements traditionally carried out, her life remains a busy one. Last year, at the age of 89, we saw her carry out visits to Germany and Malta, host two State Visits and visit various places across the UK including the Royal Maundy service in Sheffield. In her Christmas message last December, the Queen said how she was looking forward to a busy 2016 and commented how she would have Happy Birthday sung to her more than once or twice.
I hope this milestone is an opportunity to show the Queen the regard in which she is held: for the service performed - and the service still to come.