Queen Elizabeth II Turns 90, U.K. Networks Celebrate With News, Docs, Specials
#HappyBirthdayYourMajesty trends on Twitter, and with the annual Trooping the Color, a star-studded ITV special and other upcoming events, British media outlets look to bask in the majestic glow for the near future.
#HappyBirthdayYourMajesty was one of the top Twitter trends in Britain Thursday morning as social media and TV networks celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday.
Public broadcaster BBC, ITV and Sky News were among those covering the birthday in their newscasts. Adding to a recent slew of specials and documentaries, the BBC was set to air Thursday evening on flagship channel BBC One Elizabeth at 90 — A Family Tribute, a doc narrated by Prince Charles, which includes scenes of him and her watching cine film footage from her childhood.
"As we celebrate her 90th birthday, she, like all of us, can reflect on a life that has inspired and encouraged millions of people in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world," the BBC quoted Prince Charles as saying in the doc. "In many ways, it's a life that has defined our age."
ITV aired another special, the two-hour Our Queen at 90, over Easter, attracting a consolidated audience of 7.1 million viewers. There is more TV and other coverage scheduled for the coming weeks.
U.K. media experts say the extended coverage highlights the popularity of all things royal in Britain, with the Queen's birthday being the big known royal story of the year.
"The royal family is very popular in Britain. The Queen has not only reached 90, but is now the U.K.'s longest-serving monarch, which attracts respect as well," explains Richard Sambrook, professor of journalism and director of the Center for Journalism at Cardiff University and a former director of global news at the BBC. "Anniversaries are easy to cover and plan for. It's colorful and a nice counterpoint to politics and war!"
Sambrook also says the royal birthday allows for some distraction and nostalgia as Britain debates its position in the world today. "There is some confusion about what kind of country Britain is today as reflected in the EU referendum and devolution debates," he says. "The Queen's birthday allows some nostalgia for what Britain used to be and some reflection of past glory."
The Queen spent her birthday morning at Windsor Castle and gave people a chance to wish her all the best when she unveiled a plaque on the Queen's Walkway, which opened last year, according to news reports. At noon London time, gun salutes were fired across the U.K.
The celebrations will continue with a major event at Windsor Castle from May 12 through May 15 to celebrate the Queen's love of horses and her involvement with the armed forces.
On June 11, known as the official day of birthday celebrations for the Queen, the annual Trooping the Color parade will be held in London. It will end with the royal family making its annual appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
On June 12, the Queen will host a street party in St. James's Park in London for around 10,000 people at a lunch event that celebrates her patronage to more than 600 organizations in the U.K. and beyond.
One of the biggest TV events over the coming weeks will be ITV's The Queen's 90th Birthday Celebration in mid-May, which the network will air live. Hosted by popular TV duo Ant and Dec, it will take place "in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen in the private grounds of Windsor Castle and will see the best of British talent join more than 900 horses and 1,500 participants for what promises to be a spectacular evening," ITV said. "The celebration will tell the story of the Queen's remarkable life from her birth in 1926, through World War Two, to her coronation in 1953 and a reign spanning more than 60 years."