Queen Elizabeth II has cancelled all traditional celebratory plans for her 94th birthday on April 21 amid the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, Buckingham Palace said on Saturday. For the first time in her 68-year reign, the 93-year-old monarch has said there would be no gun salutes in the royal parks around the country or any other form of celebration.
“Her Majesty was keen that no special measures were put in place to allow gun salutes as she did not feel it appropriate in the current circumstances,” a Buckingham Palace aide was quoted as saying.
Her birthday will be marked by a social media post from the Palace on Tuesday. Birthday wishes from members of the royal family would take place over calls or video calls due to the current social distancing measures in place to try and curb the spread of Covid-19, which has claimed 14,576 lives in the UK.
The customary Trooping the Colour parade, which marks her birthday celebrations in early June, had already been cancelled as the lockdown came into force last month.
The future Queen Elizabeth II was born on 21 April 1926 as the daughter of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and the future King George VI, then the Duke and Duchess of York. At the time, her uncle, the Prince of Wales and later King Edward VIII, was expected to marry and produce heirs, making her third in the line of succession. She went on to become monarch as the heir of King George VI in 1952.
The Queen has been based at Windsor Castle since last month with husband, 98-year-old Prince Philip, from where she has issued a pre-recorded televised address to the nation as well as an Easter message in the last few weeks.
“We know that coronavirus will not overcome us. As dark as death can be – particularly for those suffering with grief – light and life are greater,” she said in her Easter message earlier this month.
“May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future. I wish everyone of all faiths and denominations a blessed Easter,” she said.
In her historic televised address, the Queen made a special reference to heart-warming stories coming out of different parts of the world, including the Commonwealth, as a rallying call for resilience during the pandemic.
The monarch, who is also Head of the 54-nation Commonwealth, referred to the very British “attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling” as she made a wider global callout to say that in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to the Covid-19 challenge.
“Across the Commonwealth and around the world, we have seen heart-warming stories of people coming together to help others, be it through delivering food parcels and medicines, checking on neighbours, or converting businesses to help the relief effort,” the Queen said.
“And though self-isolating may at times be hard, many people of all faiths, and of none, are discovering that it presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect, in prayer or meditation,” she said.