Current Events, Special Days and Historic Anniversaries Brought to Life by Teddy Bears, Pandas and Other Cuddly Creatures

NOW WE ARE EIGHTY-EIGHT!

by Elspeth

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88 years ago today, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was born at 17 Bruton Street, the London home of her maternal grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore.  She was the first child of the Duke of York, King George V’s second son, and his wife, formerly Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon. 

As the new princess was third in line to the throne after Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), and her father, she was never expected to become Queen.  Her christening took place in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace, where she was named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary after her mother, her paternal great-grandmother and her paternal grandmother respectively. 

Her Majesty celebrates her actual birthday in private, leaving the public celebrations until her official birthday in June, when better weather is more likely, marked by the spectacular ceremony of Trooping the 20120515_137 - CopyColour.  Her birthday is, however, marked publically at midday on 21st April with a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park and a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London.  (If, like me, you’ve always wondered why the number of salutes varies, it’s because it depends on the location and the occasion.  For instance, the basic Royal salute is 21 rounds, but an extra 20 are added in Hyde Park because it’s a Royal Park.  Then, at the Tower of London, 62 rounds are fired on Royal anniversaries (the basic 21, a further 20 because the Tower is a Royal Palace and Fortress and another 21 ‘for the City of London’) and 41 on other occasions.  The Tower probably holds the record for the most rounds fired in a single salute which is thought to be 124.  This happened on 10th June two years ago when the Queen’s official birthday (62 rounds) coincided with The Duke of Edinburgh’s birthday (also 62 rounds).  Still confused?  I know I am!

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Some artists focused on her robes and jewels, others on her regal bearing and a few made the corgis an essential accessory.  However, for David Bailey, whose photographic portrait of the Queen was unveiled yesterday, it was her ‘kind yet mischievous eyes’ that he wanted to bring out.  Most agree that, with the black and white portrait, commissioned on behalf of the government’s GREAT Britain campaign, which promotes the country as a destination for trade, tourism and investment, Bailey has achieved his goal.

There have been thousands of portraits painted of the Queen – the National Portrait Gallery, which owns 813 of them, calls her the most portrayed person in history.  Yet few reveal as broad a smile as the one captured by Bailey and, as Her Majesty celebrates her 88th birthday, she is as happy and glorious as she has ever been. 

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The Bears in the Windows always pay their own birthday tribute to this remarkable woman who has given a lifetime of service and dedication to her family, her country and the Commonwealth and who, throughout her long and eventful reign, has demonstrated an extraordinary energy, drive, sense of duty and fortitude.  This year, ‘Her Majesty’, whose presents include a basket of wine and cheese and a specially commissioned portrait of ‘Prince Philip’, is spending her birthday at Windsor where she’s enjoying a walk amongst a host of sunshine yellow daffodils.  (I sincerely hope it’s been ‘a nice sunshiny day’ in Windsor just like it’s been here in Ayr.)  Naturally, accompanying Her Majesty on her walk are two of her beloved corgis, who have their eyes on a rather yummy looking birthday cake, complete with her ‘EIIR’ cipher, made specially for her by cake-maker extraordinaire, Fiona Bearns!

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