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Queen's 90th Birthday: A very special relationship with Northern Ireland

Published 22/04/2016

File photo dated 03/05/1928 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) waving from the carriage as she drives in London as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st.
File photo dated 03/05/1928 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) waving from the carriage as she drives in London as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st.
File photo dated 06/11/1935 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) who turns 90 on the April 21st.
File photo dated 15/12/1948 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) holding her son Prince Charles after his Christening ceremony in Buckingham Palace as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st.
File photo dated 01/01/1933 of two year old Princess Margaret (seated) with her sister Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st.
File photo dated 12/05/1937 of Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) with her eldest daughter Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, after the coronation of King George VI as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st.
File photo dated 10/07/1949 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) opening a holiday centre for young people at Avon Tyrell, Hampshire as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st.
File photo dated 01/01/1945 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) at the wheel of an Army vehicle when she served during the Second World War in the Auxiliary Territorial Service as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st.
File photo dated 01/05/1926 of the Queen Mother (then the Duchess of York) with her husband, King George VI (then the Duke of York), and their daughter Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) at her christening as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st.
File photo dated 01/01/1942 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) in her Girl Guide uniform as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 30/03/2004 of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II peers round a corner during a visit to the Royal Albert Hall in London, marking the end of an 8 year restoration program as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 28/07/90 of Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: Adam Butler/PA Wire
File photo dated 21/12/84 of (left to right) the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William, Prince Harry and the Prince and Princess of Wales after the christening ceremony of Prince Harry as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 01/06/1967 of Queen Elizabeth II at the garden party in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London, to mark the 50th anniversary of women in active service, during the Second World War as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 02/06/1959 of Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor joined by Sugar, one of the Royal corgis as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 12/03/47 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) riding Jill while Princess Margaret (right) rides Treasure owned by Pat O'Reilly (left) at Bonza Beach, East London, during a break from the royal tour of South Africa, as more than any other interest, horses and ponies have been the Queen's passion throughout her long life. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. The monarch's love for the equine world is something she shared with her mother and she has been breeding and racing horses for more than 60 years. See PA story ROYAL Birthday Horse. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 21/04/86 of Queen Elizabeth II leaving St Georges Chapel, Windsor following a thanksgiving service at the chapel to mark her 60th birthday, as the Queen's birthday celebrations over the past 90 years have ranged from a quiet morning ride with her children at Windsor to a grand birthday ball for 500 guests. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. Her 40th birthday coincided with the State Opening of Parliament and her 80th was a busy affair including a walkabout, an intimate family dinner followed by fireworks, and a special tribute from the Prince of Wales broadcast to the nation. The monarch celebrates two birthdays each year: her actual one on April 21, as well as her official one on a Saturday in June marked by the Trooping the Colour parade. See PA story ROYAL Birthday Past. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated Queen Elizabeth (now the Queen Mother) & Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II)hold on to their hats as they arrive at Westminster Abbey, as towards the end of her life the Queen Mother was seen as the nation's grandmother, a venerable figure who liked following horse racing form and entertaining her friends. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. The Queen's cousin, Margaret Rhodes, said the Queen Mother's death in 2002 at the age of 101 had a profound effect on her daughter: "Not only of sadness but in a way that she could come into her own as the head of the family and as the most senior royal lady." See PA story ROYAL Birthday Influences. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 08/06/82 of Queen Elizabeth II riding her horse Centennial in Windsor Home Park, as more than any other interest, horses and ponies have been the Queen's passion throughout her long life. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. The monarch's love for the equine world is something she shared with her mother and she has been breeding and racing horses for more than 60 years. See PA story ROYAL Birthday Horse. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 20/11/79 of Queen Elizabeth II (third left) and her family enjoying a stroll with their dogs in the grounds of Balmoral Castle, as Corgis have been the Queen's life-long companions - small dogs described as having big personalities. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 03, 2016. The head of state is famed for her love of the breed with many of her dogs descended from her first pet Susan, who was an 18th birthday present from her parents. See PA story ROYAL Birthday Dogs. Photo credit should read: Ron Bell/PA Wire
File photo dated 29/04/26 of the then Duke and Duchess of York with their baby daughter Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II), as the Queen was born in 1926 - the year of the country's first and only General Strike. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. Just days after Princess Elizabeth of York arrived into the world, Britain's miners walked out over attempts by pit owners to increase their working hours, but reduce their wages. In a move of solidarity, other industries - ranging from bus, rail, and docks to iron, steel and chemical workers - joined them. See PA story ROYAL Birthday 1926. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 28/11/01 of Queen Elizabeth II (left) in the Queen Vic pub during a visit to Elstree Studios where EastEnders is filmed. She was accompanied by long standing cast member Barbara Windsor (Peggy Mitchell) and her on-screen son Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell) as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire
File photo dated 20/07/11 of Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire, where she laid a wreath next to the wall of the Armed Forces Memorial as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
File photo dated 16/09/10 of Queen Elizabeth II talking with Pope Benedict XVI during an audience in the Morning Drawing Room at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh during a four day visit by the Pope to the UK as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: David Cheskin/PA Wire
File photo dated 23/07/00 of Queen Elizabeth II (left) and the Queen Mother leaving church by horse drawn carriage on the Sandringham Estate, Norfolk as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
File photo dated 09/04/2005 of the Prince of Wales leaving St Georges Chapel in Windsor after marrying his former mistress Camilla Parker Bowles, making her an HRH and the Duchess of Cornwall. Queen Elizabeth II (behind) attended their religious blessing but was not present at their civil ceremony as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
File photo dated 10/10/14 of actress Angelina Jolie (right) being presented with the Insignia of an Honorary Dame Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George by Queen Elizabeth II in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace, London as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
File photo dated 11/10/02 of Queen Elizabeth II enjoying a walk about, after visiting the Old Government House in Fredericton, New Brunswick during her two week Royal visit to Canada as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire
File photo dated 21/04/1974 of Queen Elizabeth II smiling as she celebrated her 48th birthday at Windsor Castle as she turns 90 on the April 21st.
File photo dated 23/12/1987 of The Queen making her traditional Christmas Day address to the nation and the Commonwealth as she turns 90 on the April 21st.
File photo dated 08/07/1971 of Queen Elizabeth II leaving the King Edward VII Hospital for Officers after visiting Princess Anne. The Princess had an emergency operation for the removal of an ovarian cyst as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st.
Queen Elizabeth II sitting with her corgis, at Virginia Water to watch competitors, including Prince Philip in the Marathon of the European Driving Championship, part of the Royal Windsor Horse Show PA Wire
File photo dated 10/1/1983 of Queen Elizabeth II inspecting the Guard of Honour at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: Ron Bell/PA Wire
File photo dated 01/09/72 of Queen Elizabeth II in her study at Balmoral on the year of her silver wedding anniversary as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 16/07/91 of Queen Elizabeth II gesturing to Ruud Lubbers, Prime Minister of the Netherlands and President of the EC Council of Ministers, to sit on an empty chair after the Duke of Edinburgh was absent, as the leaders of the G7 Summit countries gathered for a pre-dinner photo-call in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace, London as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: Martin Keene/PA Wire
File photo dated 22/11/1988 of The Duke of Edinburgh helping Queen Elizabeth II to alight from the new £120,000 Australia State Coach, Australia's bicentennial gift, at the Houses of Parliament as they arrive for the State Opening as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire
File photo dated 01/06/81 of Queen Elizabeth II walking through the crowds at the Royal Ascot race meeting as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Queen Elizabeth II with some of her corgis walking the Cross Country course during the second day of the Windsor Horse Trials. PA Wire
File photo dated 21/11/92 of Queen Elizabeth II surveying the scene at following the fire at Windsor Castle as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire
File photo dated 21/04/1976 of Queen Elizabeth II on her 50th birthday with Prince Philip and their youngest son Prince Edward, 12, in the grounds of Windsor Castle as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 15/06/85 of Queen Elizabeth II taking the salute of the Household Guards regiments during the Trooping of the Colour ceremony in London as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 08/11/60 of Queen Elizabeth II holding Prince Andrew during an outing in the grounds at Balmoral, Scotland. He was the first child to be born to a reigning monarch for 103 years as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 25/12/57 of Queen Elizabeth II, in the Long Library at Sandringham, after making the first televised Christmas day broadcast to the nation. The Queen is holding the copy of 'Pilgrim's Progress', from which she read a few lines during her message as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 09/08/1951 of Princess Anne in the arms of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) with the Duke of Edinburgh, holding Prince Charles, in the grounds of Clarence House, their London residence as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 15/05/54 of Prince Charles and Princess Anne with their parents, Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following their return from the Commonwealth tour as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 30/07/1966 of England captain Bobby Moore holding the Jules Rimet Trophy, collected from the Queen Elizabeth II, after leading his team to a 4-2 victory over West Germany, in an exciting World Cup Final that went to extra time at Wembley, London as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st.PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 03/11/1964 of Queen Elizabeth II leaving after the State Opening of Parliament as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 02/06/53 after the coronation in Westminster Abbey, London showing Queen Elizabeth II wearing the St. Edward Crown and carrying the Sceptre and the Rod as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 23/03/62 of Queen Elizabeth II (left) wearing a leopard-skin coat at a Sandown Park race meeting as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 01/07/58 of Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Rothes Colliery, Fifeshire, it was her first visit to a coal mine and she spent about half an hour underground visiting the coal face as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 07/02/52 of Queen Elizabeth II, in a black mourning outfit, waving as she returns to Clarence House in London the day after she became Queen as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 02/06/56 of Queen Elizabeth II walking through Windsor Great Park with Prince Charles to watch the Duke of Edinburgh play polo as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 20/11/1947 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and Lt Philip Mountbatten at Buckingham Palace after their wedding ceremony as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 10/11/1946 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) laying a wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday as she turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated18/04/1944 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) visiting the National Sea Scouts Exhibition at the London Scottish Headquarters in Buckingham Gate as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 01/04/1939 of Princesses Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and Margaret launching a model seaplane at the Bekonscot model village in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 27/06/1927 of the Duke and Duchess of York with King George V and Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 21/10/1950 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) with her baby daughter, Princess Anne, after the christening at Buckingham Palace, London as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 24/10/1931 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) arriving at the 16th Century Church at Balcombe, Sussex, for the wedding of Lady May Cambridge and Captain Henry Abel Smith as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 01/01/1938 of King George VI, his wife Queen Elizabeth and their two daughters, Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II, right) and Princess Margaret as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 01/05/1936 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II, left) and Margaret with the Duke and Duchess of York at the Royal Tournament at Olympia in London as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE File photo dated 01/01/1943 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II, centre back) and King George VI, as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 29/05/1930 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) arriving at Olympia for the Royal Tournament as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 27/05/1932 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II)walking bareheaded through the rain on her arrival home as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 01/01/1941 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) in the garden of her wartime country residence (Windsor) as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 08/06/82 of the then US President Ronald Reagan and Queen Elizabeth II riding in Windsor Home Park, as more than any other interest, horses and ponies have been the Queen's passion throughout her long life. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. The monarch's love for the equine world is something she shared with her mother and she has been breeding and racing horses for more than 60 years. See PA story ROYAL Birthday Horse. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 19/04/47 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) during the Royal visit to the Natal National Park in South Africa, Shortly before her 21st birthday, as the Queen's birthday celebrations over the past 90 years have ranged from a quiet morning ride with her children at Windsor to a grand birthday ball for 500 guests. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. Her 40th birthday coincided with the State Opening of Parliament and her 80th was a busy affair including a walkabout, an intimate family dinner followed by fireworks, and a special tribute from the Prince of Wales broadcast to the nation. The monarch celebrates two birthdays each year: her actual one on April 21, as well as her official one on a Saturday in June marked by the Trooping the Colour parade. See PA story ROYAL Birthday Past. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 16/06/12 of Queen Elizabeth II (fourth from left) and members of the British royal family (from left to right) the Duchess of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the annual Trooping the Colour parade, in central London. The Queen may be the head of state, but she is also a mother of four, grandmother to eight grandchildren and great-grandmother to five. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. While she is familiar around the world to millions as a sovereign, it is the Windsors who know the real Elizabeth II, sharing precious family time behind closed doors. See PA story ROYAL Birthday Family. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
File photo dated 22/04/68 of (left to right) The Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew and Prince Charles in the grounds of Frogmore House, Windsor, as the Queen may be the head of state, but she is also a mother of four, grandmother to eight grandchildren and great-grandmother to five. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. While she is familiar around the world to millions as a sovereign, it is the Windsors who know the real Elizabeth II, sharing precious family time behind closed doors. See PA story ROYAL Birthday Family. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 05/07/15 of the Duchess of Cambridge and Queen Elizabeth II with Princess Charlotte during her christening, as the Queen may be the head of state, but she is also a mother of four, grandmother to eight grandchildren and great-grandmother to five. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. While she is familiar around the world to millions as a sovereign, it is the Windsors who know the real Elizabeth II, sharing precious family time behind closed doors. See PA story ROYAL Birthday Family. Photo credit should read: Matt Dunham/PA Wire
Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) holding a Corgi, as the breed have been the Queen's life-long companions - small dogs described as having big personalities. PA Wire
File photo dated 23/11/47 of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and The Duke of Edinburgh during their first public appearance since their wedding, as more than any other person, the Duke of Edinburgh has had a profound effect on the Queen. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. He has been a constant reassuring presence by her side at official events from the State Opening of Parliament to official trips abroad for more than 60 years. See PA story ROYAL Birthday Influences. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 01/04/44 of Queen Elizabeth (now the Queen Mother) and King George VI with their daughter Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) shortly before her 18th birthday, as the Queen's birthday celebrations over the past 90 years have ranged from a quiet morning ride with her children at Windsor to a grand birthday ball for 500 guests. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. Her 40th birthday coincided with the State Opening of Parliament and her 80th was a busy affair including a walkabout, an intimate family dinner followed by fireworks, and a special tribute from the Prince of Wales broadcast to the nation. The monarch celebrates two birthdays each year: her actual one on April 21, as well as her official one on a Saturday in June marked by the Trooping the Colour parade. See PA story ROYAL Birthday Past. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 01/01/1897 of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee photographic portrait, as Elizabeth II will be the first British monarch to reach their 90th birthday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. She is the country's oldest ever sovereign - although is not thought to be keen on being reminded of this - and also the oldest monarch in the world. The Queen is some way ahead of her great-great-grandmother Victoria and her ancestor George III in the age stakes - they were both 81 when they died. See PA story ROYAL Birthday Queen. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

The Queen has always viewed Northern Ireland as an important part of her Kingdom and she has played a significant role in the peace process

Elizabeth II was aged 27 and just one month on the throne when she made her first visit to Northern Ireland as Queen in July 1953. Many people have described this province as a place apart, but for the Queen it was always an integral part of her United Kingdom and through good times and bad she has been at pains to emphasise her concern for her troubled child. In all there have been 24 visits to Northern Ireland — 21 of them during her reign.

However, there was no hint of what was to come during that first visit as sovereign. The Governor of Northern Ireland declared a public holiday to allow as many people as possible to see Her Majesty and a detailed programme of her itinerary was published.

She paid a visit to Parliament in Stormont and attended functions in Belfast, Londonderry, Lisburn, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Coleraine. When staying at Hillsborough she was serenaded by a pair of Lambeg drummers.

As a princess she had visited Northern Ireland three times in 1945 with her parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. They were back again the following year and in 1949 she arrived with her new husband Prince Philip.

Her second visit as Queen was in 1954 to launch the liner Southern Cross at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast and in August 1961 she and Philip returned with their children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne. The royal party landed at Carrickfergus, seemingly the first monarch to set foot in the east Antrim town since King William of Orange.

The first hint of anti-royalist feeling came in July 1966 when a concrete block was thrown at the royal limousine, denting the bonnet as it travelled along Great Victoria Street in Belfast. Her Majesty was unperturbed and continued with her duty to open a bridge across the River Lagan named in her honour.

However, she was to face a very different province when she returned 11 years later as part of her Silver Jubilee tour of the UK. The Troubles were raging and the IRA threatened “a visit to remember”, detonating firebombs in shops and business premises in Lisburn. Some 32,000 soldiers and police had been deployed to counter the terrorist threat.

Shortly before the Queen’s arrival an IRA bomb had been discovered in the grounds of the New University of Ulster at Coleraine, but Her Majesty, showing the resolve that has marked so much of her reign, was determined to fulfil all her engagements.

That included a meeting at Hillsborough with the founders of the Peace People, Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams, who discovered that she had taken a keen interest in their work and was fully briefed on the tragic genesis of the movement.

Two VIPs, both of whom celebrated their 90th birthday on the same day as The Queen (Thursday, 21 April), Albert Moore from East Belfast (left) and Austin Henderson from Stranmillis (right) assist Deputy Lord Mayor Alderman Guy Spence to light the beacon on the front lawn of City Hall. The Belfast tribute was part of a UK-wide beacon lighting programme marking the Royal birthday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Two VIPs, both of whom celebrated their 90th birthday on the same day as The Queen (Thursday, 21 April), Albert Moore from East Belfast (left) and Austin Henderson from Stranmillis (right) assist Deputy Lord Mayor Alderman Guy Spence to light the beacon on the front lawn of City Hall. The Belfast tribute was part of a UK-wide beacon lighting programme marking the Royal birthday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Handout photo issued by Harrison Photography of a 21 Gun Salute at Hillsborough Castle, Belfast, to celebrate the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. PA
Handout photo issued by Harrison Photography of a 21 Gun Salute at Hillsborough Castle, Belfast, to celebrate the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. PA
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st April 2016 A mural on Rockview Street in the Village area of south Belfast on the day the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-04-2016: A number of events are being held in Northern Ireland to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Queen. A 21-gun salute took place at Hillsborough Castle and at other venues across the UK at noon. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-04-2016: A number of events are being held in Northern Ireland to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Queen. A 21-gun salute took place at Hillsborough Castle and at other venues across the UK at noon. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-04-2016: A number of events are being held in Northern Ireland to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Queen. A 21-gun salute took place at Hillsborough Castle and at other venues across the UK at noon. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
21 gun salute at Hillsborough Castle to mark the Queen's 90th birthday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
21 gun salute at Hillsborough Castle to mark the Queen's 90th birthday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
21 gun salute at Hillsborough Castle to mark the Queen's 90th birthday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
21 gun salute at Hillsborough Castle to mark the Queen's 90th birthday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
21 gun salute at Hillsborough Castle to mark the Queen's 90th birthday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
21 gun salute at Hillsborough Castle to mark the Queen's 90th birthday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
21 gun salute at Hillsborough Castle to mark the Queen's 90th birthday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
21 gun salute at Hillsborough Castle to mark the Queen's 90th birthday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-04-2016: A number of events are being held in Northern Ireland to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Queen. A 21-gun salute took place at Hillsborough Castle and at other venues across the UK at noon. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Mairead’s sister’s three children were killed when a car driven by an IRA man — who was shot dead by soldiers — careered out of control and crashed into the family as they walked along Finaghy Road North in west Belfast in August the previous year.

It was 14 years before Her Majesty returned to Northern Ireland for a fleeting visit to present colours to four of the nine UDR battalions who served here and five more one-day visits followed in 1993, 1995, 1997, 2000 and 2001.

The following year, 2002, marked her Golden Jubilee and the Queen arrived for a three-day visit. With Prince Philip she went to Parliament Buildings — her first time in the building since 1953 — to see the power-sharing Assembly in action.

A proposal to address the Assembly in the debating chamber was dropped as it was feared Sinn Fein — then a minor partner in the administration — would walk out. Instead she gave a speech in the Great Hall. Sinn Fein were able to leave the building quietly without meeting her. She also made an unscheduled visit to the spot in Omagh where a Real IRA bomb had exploded in August 1998 killing 29 people, the worst single atrocity of the Troubles.

Another seven trips to Northern Ireland followed before perhaps the most historic visit of them all in June 2012 to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

It was then that the greatest drama ever played out at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast took place. She met First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, a one-time IRA commander. The former terrorist and the monarch shook hands, firstly in private and then for the cameras.

Mr McGuinness is said to have commented favourably on her 2011 visit to Dublin and Sinn Fein said the meeting was a “powerful signal that peace-making required leadership”.

The royal party also toured Stormont in an open-topped vehicle, demonstrating how tensions had eased during the peace process.

Her most recent visit to the province came in June 2014 when she marked the centenary of the beginning of the First World War by laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in Coleraine and on a lighter note visited the set of the Game of Thrones and met the experts from the TV series the Antiques Roadshow, who were filming at Hillsborough Castle.

Online Editors

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From Belfast Telegraph