Queen Elizabeth turns 94, cancels traditional birthday gun salutes due to coronavirus pandemic
Britain's record-breaking Queen Elizabeth turned 94 on Tuesday but the coronavirus lockdown means there will be little fanfare to mark the occasion. Elizabeth, the world's eldest and longest-reigning monarch, typically spends her birthday privately without much public celebration but this year, the event will be even more muted.
Royal birthdays and anniversaries are traditionally marked by ceremonial gun salutes, in which blank rounds are fired from various locations across London, but the queen felt it would be inappropriate to allow this to go ahead given the circumstances.
The latest official figures show that about 16,000 Britons infected with the new coronavirus have died in hospital, the fifth-highest number globally. The nation is in its fourth week of lockdown, with most businesses closed and citizens ordered to stay at home.
Flags are usually flown on government buildings to mark the queen's birthday but officials have been told that this year not everyone would be expected to arrange for that to happen.
The queen herself is staying at Windsor Castle, west of London, with her 98-year-old husband Prince Philip.
From there, she has issued a number of rallying messages to the nation, including only the fifth televised address of her 68-year reign.
On Monday, Philip made a statement, a rare event since he retired from public life three years ago, to thank those involved in the response to the coronavirus crisis.
Elizabeth, who was born on April 21, 1926, in Bruton Street, central London, grew up not expecting to become queen. Her father, George VI, only took the crown when his elder brother Edward VIII abdicated in 1936 to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.