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Northern Ireland cadet's 'immense pride' after guard of honour role at Queen's 90th birthday beacon lighting ceremony in Windsor

By Claire Williamson

A 17-year-old cadet from Northern Ireland has told of her immense pride as she stood by the Queen as she lit the first beacon during her 90th birthday celebrations.

On Thursday the Queen's 90th birthday was marked publicly by the nation as she became the country's first nonagenarian soverign.

The monarch went on a walkabout close to Windsor Castle where she was greeted by thousands of cheering well-wishers.

She later lit the first almost 1,000 beacons across the nation as Prince Charles paid tribute to her.

He said:  "I find it very hard to believe that you've reached your 90th year and I suddenly realised the other day that I have known you since you were 22 years old.

"But this, ladies and gentleman, is a very special occasion and this beacon that her majesty is about to light will also represent - as it lights other beacons across the nation - the love and affection with which you are held throughout this country and the Commonwealth."

Standing by her side as the beacon lighting ceremony began was a cadet from Northern Ireland who was specially chosen for the task.

Emma-Lee Wray from Carnlough in Co Antrim was picked on the back of her cadet achievements where she has risen to the rank of company sergeant major.

She also has completed the Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards - alongside excelling academically at school with 8A* grades and an A in her GCSEs.

Speaking after the momentous occasion she said she felt "immense pride" at what she had done - and shared the humour remark made by the Duke of Edinburgh.

She told the Belfast Telegraph: "It was an unforgettable experience.

"I never thought I'd be so close but I met them all and the Duke of Edinburgh was really funny.

"The Queen accepted my flowers and asked did I pick them myself

"And I told her unfortunately not."

"The beacon took a moment to light and the Duke asked "does any one have a match".

She added: "I am immensely proud of what I did and just feel so honoured."

Meanwhile members of the Army Cadet Forces lit beacons at the top of the four highest peaks in the UK - including Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland.

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