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Queen Elizabeth II begins three days of birthday celebrations

AFPAFP 10/06/2016 Justin Tallis
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A beaming Queen Elizabeth II greeted flag-waving crowds outside St. Paul's Cathedral Friday despite being delayed by London's traffic as she made her way to celebrate her official 90th birthday.

The sprightly monarch who still keeps a gruelling calendar of official engagements and events kicked off three days of celebrations with a thanksgiving ceremony at the Baroque-style church.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II attends a national service of thanksgiving for her 90th birthday at St Paul's Cathedral in London on June 10, 2016 © Provided by AFP Britain's Queen Elizabeth II attends a national service of thanksgiving for her 90th birthday at St Paul's Cathedral in London on June 10, 2016

The queen turned 90 on April 21, but British monarchs also have an official birthday celebration nearer the summer to make the most of the warmer weather in a tradition going back 250 years.

Dressed in canary yellow, the queen entered the 340-year-old cathedral to a fanfare sounded by state trumpeters of the Household Calvary, accompanied by husband Prince Philip, who himself celebrated his 95th birthday on Friday.

Royal fans gather outside St Paul's Cathedral in London to see the queen arrive for her birthday thanksgiving service on June 10, 2016 © Provided by AFP Royal fans gather outside St Paul's Cathedral in London to see the queen arrive for her birthday thanksgiving service on June 10, 2016

Senior royals including Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Prince William and his wife Kate were joined in the congregation by Prime Minister David Cameron, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn -- a noted republican -- and new London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Veteran naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough, who was born in the same year as the queen, read "Reflections on the Passing of the Years" by Paddington Bear author Michael Bond.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, paid tribute to the queen's "wonderful service" during the sermon.

"You have been an instrument of God's peace, and through you, God has so often turned fear into wonder -- and joy," he said.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive in a state car for the national service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral in London on June 10, 2016 © Provided by AFP Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive in a state car for the national service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral in London on June 10, 2016

There was a moment of drama when a member of the military fainted on the steps outside the cathedral while waiting for the service to arrive.

To mark the queen's birthday, the royal family released a double portrait taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh who have been married for more than 68 years.

The picture shows the queen in pale pink with Prince Philip wearing a shirt in the same colour.

The three-day celebrations have the theme of public service, with members of the NHS, the police and the fire service represented at the thanksgiving service.

Prince Harry (L), Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R) leave St Paul's Cathedral in London on June 10, 2016 © Provided by AFP Prince Harry (L), Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R) leave St Paul's Cathedral in London on June 10, 2016

The armed services will be honoured on Saturday -- the queen's actual official birthday -- and Sunday will celebrate the work of charities.

The royal couple will host a lunch for visiting governors-general at Buckingham Palace following the service, while the streets of London will be lined with well-wishers on Saturday for the pomp of the Trooping of the Colour ceremony.

Around 10,000 guests are due on the Mall, the road leading to Buckingham Palace, for a street party on Sunday.

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