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Queen's 90th birthday: Her family share precious memories

The Queen may be a head of state, but she is also a mother of four, grandmother to eight grandchildren and great-grandmother to five.

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.

The Queen as a mother

Duty often took the Queen away from her children. Royal tours were lengthy, lasting for months, and the monarch was committed to a busy schedule as a young Queen. Her four children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward grew up in the care of nannies and were sent to boarding school.

Courtiers have stated that the Queen was not a tactile mother, but she was said to have been more relaxed with her two youngest children Andrew and Edward, as by then she had found a better work-life balance.

Jonathan Dimbleby’s biography of the Prince of Wales, with which Charles co-operated, portrayed the Queen as a somewhat distant mother.

However, Anne, now the Princess Royal, later spoke out in support of her parents, saying: “I simply don’t believe there is any evidence whatsoever to suggest that she wasn’t caring. It just beggars belief.”

In his Diamond Jubilee tribute, Charles spoke warmly of his mother, addressing her first as “Your Majesty”, then “mummy” and telling the crowds they were “celebrating the life and service of a very special person”.

As a wife

The Queen has been married to the Duke of Edinburgh for more than 68 years and Philip, known for his forthright views, has been an unwavering source of support for the monarch.

The Duke said as they marked their golden wedding anniversary that tolerance was the one essential ingredient of any happy marriage, adding: “You can take it from me that the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.”

Philip has been described as the only man in the world who treats the Queen simply as another human being — something she values greatly.

Princess Eugenie once said of her grandparents: “Together, they are invincible.”

As a grandmother

The Queen’s grandchildren have paid tribute to the stability their “granny” has provided them with, and described their pride at her devotion to duty.

The Duke of Cambridge told ITV’s recent documentary Our Queen At Ninety: “She’s never dictated what we should do. It’s that quiet guidance.”

Peter Phillips, the Queen’s eldest grandson, has recalled fond memories of holidays with her at Sandringham, Balmoral and Windsor.

“We had a lot of fun and there was a lot of space for kids to run around in. It wasn’t just us, it was the Waleses [William and Harry], Freddie and Ella Windsor and the Gloucesters,” Peter told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

“So there was quite a gang of us growing up and it was a lot of fun. We caused quite a bit of mayhem and chaos.”

Queen Elizabeth’s eight grandchildren are: Peter Phillips, Zara Phillips, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn.

As a great-grandmother

To two-year-old Prince George, the Queen is “gan gan” and the

Duchess of Cambridge revealed in ITV’s documentary that the Queen always leaves a little gift out for George and his younger sister Princess Charlotte when the Cambridge family comes to stay.

The Queen’s great-grandchildren are: Savannah and Isla Phillips, Prince George, Mia Tindall and Princess Charlotte.

As an aunt

The Queen’s nephew Viscount Linley and niece Lady Sarah Chatto hold a special place in her heart. The children of her sister Princess Margaret keep a low profile, but the Queen keeps in close contact with them.

As a mother-in-law

The Countess of Wessex, married to the Queen’s youngest son the Earl of Wessex, has a strong bond with the monarch.

Despite a rocky start — which involved an embarrassing Fake Sheikh sting — Sophie, who used to work in public relations, is seen as a safe pair of hands by the Queen and a trusted ally. They are said to share a fascination with military history.

The Duchess of Cornwall — a later addition to the Queen’s in-laws — has also grown closer to the monarch. They share a love of horses and dogs, and the monarch is said to see how happy and settled Camilla has made her son.

The Queen and the Duchess have even carried out joint engagements together — a move which would have been inconceivable just over a decade ago when it seemed unlikely the Prince would ever marry his former mistress.

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