“He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments. He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.”
These words were spoken by Elizabeth II about her husband Prince Philip during the celebration of their golden wedding anniversary in 1997.
Today is Queen Elizabeth II’s 85th birthday. She was born on 21 April 1926, the first child of the Duke of York, second son of George V, and his wife, the former Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. She wasn’t expected to become Queen; the Duke had an elder brother, the Prince of Wales, whose future children would precede her in the succession, as would any younger brothers of her own.
Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, father of the current Grand Duke Henri and himself Sovereign of the little nation from 1964 to 2000, turned 90 years old last Wednesday 5 January 2011.
Princess Anne is celebrating her 60th birthday today; to nobody’s surprise, her reaction to reaching retirement age is to carry on with business as usual. She’s already the hardest-working member of the royal family in terms of sheer numbers of engagements she completes each year, and is showing no signs of slowing down.