Celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday with a royal tour of Britain
At London’s exclusive Fortnum & Mason department store (aka the Queen’s grocer), in-house milliner Adrian Philip Howard breaks off sewing on sequins to talk hats and Her Majesty.
“The essential element is a narrow brim,’’ explains Howard, who helped create royal hats during a four-year apprenticeship to the Queen’s personal milliner. “That’s so we all get to see something of her.”
One can only feel for Queen Elizabeth II, who has been in the public gaze, complete with narrow brim, since seemingly forever. Yet as the Queen steadfastly ticks off still more historic landmarks — she became Britain’s longest serving monarch in September before celebrating her 90th birthday in April — there’s no sign we’ll be seeing less of her. In fact, this year’s packed royal program is already underway, with special exhibitions and celebratory events such as a birthday spectacular (lasting 90 minutes and involving 900 horses) at Royal Windsor Horse Show last month.
A street party for thousands of ballot-selected guests, openings of commemorative walkways and bandstands, and other appearances are scheduled around the Queen’s other, “official” birthday this weekend, an eccentric royal tradition that is about making the best of Britain’s unreliable weather and which falls just a day after Prince Philip’s 95th birthday. These special events are invite-only, but that leaves plenty for the rest of us to enjoy. The public ceremonies and pageants, palace visits, souvenir shopping sprees and royal-themed afternoon teas add up to a right royal love-in that loyal Brits and overseas visitors clearly find hard to resist. Witness the waxworks at London’s Madame Tussauds where the longest queues are not for the likes of Kylie or Clooney, Sachin Tendulkar or Lady Gaga, but for the so-called Royals Area. Everybody wants to be photographed with the Windsors, and there are tussles for pride of place alongside the Queen, first modelled in wax by Tussauds when the little princess Elizabeth was two years old. The waxworks has since recreated the Queen on 23 occasions, more than any other figure in its long history.
Meanwhile, at Fortnum & Mason (F & M to its loyal regulars), with cherished “royal warrants’’ from estab-
The Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May, above; guestroom at The Rubens at the Palace, below