By Aaron Humes: Belize’s head of state Queen Elizabeth II marks her 96th birthday today, although it is usually celebrated later according to the tradition.
The BBC reports she is spending the day at Sandringham Castle, Norfolk, with family and friends, staying at a cottage particularly liked by her late husband, Prince Philip.
An official photograph released for the occasion showed her with two Fell ponies, to appear at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
She is also getting a Barbie doll in her likeness, featuring a recreation of her wedding tiara and an ivory gown fitted with a blue ribbon.
Birthday wishes were issued from family as well as political leaders on social media and there were gun salutes and the Happy Birthday song played by the Queen’s Guard during the Changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace.
Grandson Prince Harry, who recently visited, suggested in a US TV interview that the Queen might be downplaying this latest milestone, saying that “after a certain age you get bored of birthdays”.
The Queen has had mobility problems in recent months and has had to miss a number of events, including church services over Easter. Her only public appearance this year, outside of her own residences or on video, was at the Thanksgiving Service for Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey.
The occasion comes amid the Platinum Jubilee of 70 years on the throne which along with her official birthday is to be commemorated in June. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, the Queen is one of about 124,000 people in the 95 to 99 age group in the UK, almost three-quarters of these being women.