In pictures: 70 years of the Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth II is set to turn 96 on 21 April - and Britain's longest-serving monarch has led the nation through 70 years of highs and lows.

The nonagenarian mother-of-four, grandmother-of-eight and great-grandmother-of-12 has been active in public life for more than seven decades, displaying great strength and resilience throughout the ups and downs of her reign.

Throughout the years, the Queen has appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony on numerous occasions, waving to crowds who have gathered to catch a glimpse of the monarch.

As Britons turned to the Queen for reassurance and guidance through difficult times – including the death of Princess Diana and the COVID pandemic – nowhere has she been more prominent in our public life than on the balcony of her world-famous central London residence.

But it has also been on happy and celebratory occasions – including at Trooping the Colour and royal weddings – that Elizabeth has taken to the balcony with a broad smile on her face.

In 2021, the Queen faced one of her most difficult periods after her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – who she was married to for 73 years – died at the age of 99.

In recent months she has pulled out of several events because of mobility problems – including at the recent Easter Sunday service at Windsor.

And while there will be a huge celebration in June to mark her Platinum Jubilee and 96th birthday, the Queen will reportedly be spending her birthday on Thursday at the Sandringham farmhouse where her beloved husband lived after his retirement.

Her Majesty is expected to fly by helicopter to her 20,000-acre Sandringham estate and stay at Wood Farm until early next week.

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