All Over England, Mum's the Word as the Beloved Queen Mother Celebrates Her 90th Birthday in Royal Style
updated 08/20/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 08/20/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Beaming beneath her powder-blue hat, the good Queen Mother didn't disappoint the 10,000 devotees who gathered outside her residence, Clarence House, to sing "Happy Birthday to You"—although she did keep them waiting. Shooed away from the street under the Queen Mum's balcony until 8 A.M. because, as one staff member put it, "we think she deserves a lie-in," the well-wishers abided patiently for three more hours until she appeared. Emerging onto the street, the birthday girl (born during Queen Victoria's reign) took an unplanned walkabout, accepting gifts. Nick Peacock, 7, handed her a posy and asked, "Can I be King?" "You'll have to work very hard," the Queen Mum told him. She also received a bottle of ready-mixed gin and tonic. "Thank you," Her Majesty said. "I'll drink that later."
It was a marvelous day, too, for royal watchers, who held their ground until members of the royal family arrived for lunch shortly before 1 P.M. In addition to her two daughters, Queen Elizabeth II (accompanied by Prince Philip) and Princess Margaret, there were several of the Queen Mum's grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including Prince Charles, still wearing a sling on the arm he broke seven weeks ago. Alongside her husband was Princess Diana, sporting a stylishly trim new haircut (see page 44).
The festivities capped off four months of birthday celebrations that included a parade and a gala TV special. But perhaps the greatest tribute to the nonagenarian was the kind words of her countrymen. An editorial in the News of the World summed up the nation's feelings best: "In a world changing so fast, it's comforting that a few of the nicest, most British things remain. Like Sunday roast, village cricket—and the Queen Mum." Hear, hear.