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Queen Elizabeth II turns 91 with day at the horse races

Last Updated Apr 21, 2017 at 12:52 pm EDT

Queen Elizabeth II reacts after presenting New Colours to the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards at Windsor Castle in London, England, on April 30, 2015. GETTY IMAGES/Cathal McNaughton

Britain marked Queen Elizabeth II’s 91st birthday on Friday with gun salutes, as the monarch herself enjoyed a family day and a trip to the races.

The Queen, who owns and breeds racehorses, was spotted smiling broadly and chatting animatedly Friday with jockeys and staff at Newbury Racecourse, not far from her Windsor Castle home.

She visited the racecourse with daughter Princess Anne and sat in the royal box to watch her thoroughbred Maths Prize run; it finished fifth.

There were also official celebrations in London, where a troop of the Royal Horse Artillery rode horse-and-gun carriages past Buckingham Palace before staging a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park at noon.

Outside the palace, a band of guardsmen in scarlet tunics and bearskin hats played “Happy Birthday” during the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

And at the centuries-old Tower of London, there was a second salute with 62 guns.

The queen is Britain’s oldest and longest-reigning monarch, having become queen on Feb. 8, 1952. She is also the world’s longest-reigning living monarch since the death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej last year.

Future King and Queen, George, Duke of York (1895-1952) and Elizabeth Duchess of York (1900-2002) holding their first child, future Monarch Princess Elizabeth at her christening ceremony in May, 1926. GETTY IMAGES/Central Press
Future King and Queen, George, Duke of York (1895-1952) and Elizabeth Duchess of York (1900-2002) holding their first child, future Monarch Princess Elizabeth at her christening ceremony in May, 1926. GETTY IMAGES/Central Press

 

The Queen usually spends her birthday privately. She also has an official birthday, marked in June – when the weather is better – with the “Trooping the Color” military parade.

Earlier this year, the Queen became the first British monarch to reach the milestone of 65 years on the throne.