London—Britain´s Queen Elizabeth turns 90 on Thursday with beacons and gun salutes heralding the birthday of the world´s oldest monarch, who still performs hundreds of engagements a year and shows no signs of losing her appetite for the job.
Usually her birthday passes with little ceremony but to mark Thursday´s landmark Elizabeth greeted well-wishers near her Windsor Castle home, west of London, and later lighted a beacon, the first of 1,000 lit across the country and worldwide to mark the occasion.
There was also artillery gun salutes in the British capital at Hyde Park and the Tower of London, while parliament was illuminated red, white and blue.
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.
In May, there will be a four-day pageant at Windsor Castle, while in June there will be further events to mark her official birthday, including the Patron´s Lunch, a street party for 10,000 guests on the Mall, the grand avenue leading to Buckingham Palace.
Born on April 21, 1926 in Bruton Street in central London when Calvin Coolidge was US President and Joseph Stalin had just taken control in the Soviet Union, Elizabeth shows no signs of retiring, and two surveys last week suggested the public do not want her to give up either.
An Ipsos MORI poll found 70 percent wanted her to stay queen compared to 21 percent who thought she should abdicate or retire, while a BMG survey for the London Evening Standard newspaper showed 66 percent of Britons had a favourable view of her compared to 10 percent with a negative opinion.