Queen marks 96th birthday with new picture as Harry opens up in TV interview

Monarch heads to Sandringham for celebrations

Queen’s 96th birthday celebrated with release of new photograph

The Queen has marked her 96th birthday with a picture that reflects her lifelong passion for horses, as Prince Harry opened up about his home life and difficulties in bringing his children to meet their great grandmother.

The monarch turns 96 on Thursday and has travelled from Windsor to her Sandringham estate to stay at the property loved by her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, for her birthday.

Last week the Queen receieved special guests at Windsor as Prince Harry stopped in with his wife Meghan on their way to the Invictus games in the Netherlands.

Birthday wishes for the Queen have been rolling in, with Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer among the wellwishers, and gun salutes will be fired in her honour on Thursday.

Her birthday photograph was taken in March on the grounds of Windsor Castle by Henry Dallal, who was before commissioned to take an official portrait for her 90th birthday.

Harry come home?

Prince Harry told NBC’s Today show on Wednesday about his visit to see the Queen at Windsor last week. It was his and Meghan’s first joint visit to the UK since moving to the US more than two years ago.

“It was really nice to catch up with her,” he said. “She’s on great form. She’s always got a great sense of humour with me.”

The new portrait of the Queen with two of her Fell ponies, Bybeck Katie and Bybeck Nightingale, to mark her 96th birthday (The Royal Windsor Horse Show/PA)

The duke said he wanted to return to Britain with his children for the Queen’s upcoming platinum jubilee, but was struggling with security. “I don’t know yet. There’s a lot of things, with security issues and everything else,” he said, adding he was “trying to make it possible that I can get my kids to meet her”.

But, he said, the US is home for now and he has been greeted in his Santa Barbara community “with open arms”.

He also said he has lately found himself thinking of his late mother Princess Diana more: “I feel her presence in almost everything that I do now. But definitely more so in the last two years more than ever before, without question. So she’s watching over us.”

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