THE Queen celebrated her landmark 90th birthday today with a service of thanksgiving, The Sun reports. The monarch – the first to reach the milestone age – was joined by top royals including William, Kate and Harry, as well as politicians and religious leaders. Her dedication to the nation was praised by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the service which kickstarts a weekend of celebrations.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said the Queen had helped the country “through war and hardship, through turmoil and change”. Leading figures, including Prime Minister David Cameron, joined the congregation at St Paul’s Cathedral. It was a double celebration for the royals as the Duke of Edinburgh, celebrates his 95th birthday today.
Joining the royal birthday couple in the congregation was the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The PM gave a reading from the New Testament. Former prime ministers Tony Blair and Sir John Major, senior figures from the Cabinet including Chancellor George Osborne and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also joined in with the event.
They sat alongside faith leaders and hundreds of ordinary people nominated by Government departments to recognise their service in a congregation of more than 2,000. Presenter Clare Balding – whose family have trained horses for the monarch – was also among the guests. Archbishop Welby began his sermon by saying: “Ninety years ago, Her Majesty The Queen was born, like every human being knit together in her mother’s womb, and today we thank God for the way in which she, like every human being, is fearfully and wonderfully made.
“Before we ever come to light, God marks our journeys. No one at the Queen’s birth knew for what she was destined. Today we recognise that God knew.” He added: “We are here today to worship the God who made our Queen, and to celebrate the way in which God’s hand has been so uniquely evident in her life.”
Archbishop Welby read excerpts from Psalm 139 and told the congregation it explored “fear and wonder, and the connection between them”. He added: “Over the 63 years and the 90 years there has been much to fear: at times of personal challenge or national crisis.
“But just as the Psalmist sees through fear to something more stirring and more extraordinary, so we look back on Your Majesty’s 90 years in the life of our nation with deep wonder and profound gratitude. “Through war and hardship, through turmoil and change, we have been fearfully and wonderfully sustained.”
One of three birthday gifts featured in the ceremony for the monarch was the Sir David Attenborough reading Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond’s personal account of growing up to be 90. The congregation also heard the anthem I Love All Beauteous Things. It written to mark the monarch’s milestone by Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music, who set to music a poem by Robert Bridges, poet laureate in the year the Queen was born.
Hilda Price, a 90-year-old widow who shares her birthday with the monarch, read a prayer for the Queen. The widow told the congregation: “God our guide, we give you thanks for those who inspire us, encourage all people of faith that together we may embrace the future you have in store for us.”
Elizabeth was not destined to be Queen – but she has become the longest reigning and oldest monarch in British history. She was Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York on April 21 1926. Her 64 year reign has seen Britain undergo major transformations and during that time she has been served by 12 prime ministers from Sir Winston Churchill to Mr Cameron.
Barack Obama is the 12th US president to hold office over the same period. Archbishop Welby ended his sermon with the words: “Your Majesty, today we rejoice for the way in which God’s loving care has fearfully and wonderfully sustained you – as well as Prince Philip marking his 95th birthday today.
“And we rejoice, Your Majesty, for the way in which the life God has given you in turn you have given wonderfully in service to this nation. “You have been an instrument of God’s peace, and through you God has so often turned fear into wonder – and joy.”