Fashioning the longest reign in our monarchy

Queen Elizabeth II plants a tree at the Canongate Church during her visit to Edinburgh in 1952.

Queen Elizabeth II plants a tree at the Canongate Church during her visit to Edinburgh in 1952.

On Thursday Queen Elizabeth II became the first reigning British monarch to reach the age of 90.

Her Majesty has two birthdays each year – her actual birthday on Thursday, April 21, and her official birthday in June.

Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, both wearing kilts  Prince Charles and Princess Anne (in the pram) during a family holiday at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate on Deeside. Joining the family party is Group-Captain Peter Townsend (extreme right) in 1951.

Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, both wearing kilts Prince Charles and Princess Anne (in the pram) during a family holiday at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate on Deeside. Joining the family party is Group-Captain Peter Townsend (extreme right) in 1951.

This year The Queen celebrated her birth date at Windsor Castle.

And the occasion was marked publicly by gun salutes in central London, Edinburgh and Stirling Castles at midday.

Scotland is toasting the special milestone by staging various events.

A special exhibition entitled ‘Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe’ is being held in Edinburgh in celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday and displays will be staged across each of Her Majesty’s official residences in 2016.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on walkabout in George Square Glasgow.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on walkabout in George Square Glasgow.

The first, which is the largest exhibition of The Queen’s dress and accessories ever shown in Scotland, was launched at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the capital on April 21.

The Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh also had a day of celebration on Thursday.

Scotland has held a special place in the Queen’s affections from a very tender age. She was a regular and enthusiastic visitor to Glamis Castle in Angus, the home of her mother’s family, as well as Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire when she was a child.

Scotland has also played a significant role in her Royal duties. When she became Queen, on the death of her father King George VI, one of her first official tasks was to plant a cherry tree at the Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, the parish church for the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

And after the Coronation, the first to be televised live, huge crowds lined the streets of the Scottish capital as she received the Honours of Scotland – the Scottish crown, sceptre and sword of state.

During her long reign, the Queen has visited almost every part of Scotland, receiving bouquets and gifts, launching ships and opening bridges and buildings, including the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

She always spends her summer holiday in Scotland, whether touring the Western Isles in the Royal Yacht Britannia or staying at Balmoral.

In late June or early July, The Queen stays at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and during Holyrood Week undertakes a series of engagements that celebrate Scottish culture, history and achievement, including a garden party at the Palace for around 8000 guests.

So it is very fitting that an exhibition of Her Majesty’s wardrobe should be held at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The display has been selected to cover The Queen’s life and reign and includes evening and day wear. One of the outfits being showcased is a magnificent Hartnell evening gown of pale-blue silk faille which Her Majesty wore at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh during the state visit to Scotland of King Olav of Norwar in 1962.

Meanwhile, visitors on board the Royal Yacht Britannia on the Queen’s birthday on April 21 received complimentary birthday cupcakes and fizz.

There was a programme of live music from 1.30pm to 3.30pm from The Musical Mariners’ band and a highlight of the celebrations was an evening fireworks display over Britannia.

Facts about Her Majesty’s reign

The Queen is the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England.

Since 1952, Her Majesty has given Royal Assent to more than 3500 Acts of Parliament and during her reign, she has given regular audiences to 12 Prime Ministers.

The Queen has conferred over 404,500 honours and awards and she has personally held over 610 investitures.

She has also answered over three and a half million items of correspondence.

In addition, she has given out approximately 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI. Many of The Queen’s official tours over the years were on board the Royal Yacht Britannia. It was launched by Her Majesty on April 16, 1953, and was commissioned for service on January 7, 1954. It was de-commissioned in December, 1997.

The Royal Yacht Britannia was first used by The Queen when she, along with the Duke of Edinburgh, embarked, on May 1, 1954, for the final stage of their Commonwealth Tour. The last time The Queen was on board Britannia for an official visit was on August 9, 1997, for a visit to Arran.