Happy birthday to the queen! England's Queen Elizabeth II turns 95 on Wednesday, an occasion usually celebrated with pomp, circumstance and some adorable pictures of her great-grandchildren. But this year, the celebration will be different, as it comes less than two weeks after her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, died at age 99 on April 9.
The queen has no plans to mark her 95th birthday on Wednesday, NBC News confirmed earlier this week. While her birthday is traditionally celebrated by the public in June at an event called Trooping the Colour, she usually gathers on the actual day, April 21, with her family. This year, she'll join a private lunch with close relatives, according to the British newspaper The Telegraph.
Last year, the customary gun salutes that sound at midday in London on her birthday were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic (as was Trooping the Colour). This year, they're also canceled as the queen continues to mourn her late husband. She also has no plans to release a new portrait of her herself, as has been tradition, People reported.
That said, she did release a statement for the occasion on Wednesday, thanking people for their "messages of good wishes, which I very much appreciate."
"While as a family we are in a period of great sadness, it has been a comfort to us all to see and to hear the tributes paid to my husband, from those within the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world," she continued.
"My family and I would like to thank you all for the support and kindness shown to us in recent days. We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life."
Since becoming queen 69 years ago, England's longest-reigning monarch has traveled the world, crossing paths with everyone from the pope to her adorable great-grandchildren. She’s shaken hands with countless people in hundreds of countries, including some of our favorite celebrities.
Here are some of the best interactions.
Queen Elizabeth was just four years into her reign when she met Hollywood glamour icon Marilyn Monroe at the Royal Film Performance of the "The Battle of River Plate" in London in 1956. The two women were exactly the same age, 30 years old, when they met.
The American President(s)
The U.S. and U.K. have always had a special relationship, and the queen has done her duty on that front. She's met with every U.S. president who served during the course of her reign, with the exception of President Lyndon Johnson.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Her majesty’s most loyal subject might be one Bond, James Bond. Over the queen’s reign, seven actors have played 007, and Queen Elizabeth has met nearly all of them.
The most memorable encounter was in 2012, when Bond (as played by Daniel Craig) accompanied her majesty to the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games, where the queen made an unforgettable entrance to the delight of audiences around the world.
In the kingdom known as Hollywood, one star reigns over all — Meryl Streep. The queen of the silver screen first met the queen of England back in 1980 after a screening of "Kramer vs. Kramer." Streep would later go on to win an Oscar, playing one of the queen's subjects and prime ministers, Margaret Thatcher.
But perhaps no actor knows royalty better than Helen Mirren, who over the years has played several British queens. Mirren won an Oscar for playing the titular role in the 2005 movie "The Queen." She reprised the role of Queen Elizabeth in the 2015 play "The Audience" and won the Tony Award for best actress. Mirren has met the queen a number of times, including when she became a dame in 2003.
Top of the Charts
From the top of the throne to the top of the charts, the queen has met her fair share of musicians over the years, including the Spice Girls in 1997, Lady Gaga in 2009 and Jennifer Lopez in 2001.
There is nothing like an (honorary) dame! In 2014, the queen named the Oscar winner Angelina Jolie an honorary dame due to her work fighting sexual violence and for her services to U.K. foreign policy.
Game of Thrones
Winter is coming, and the queen knows it! In 2014, she paid a visit to the Northern Ireland set of the hit HBO show "Game of Thrones." In addition to meeting with the cast and crew, the queen gamely posed with one of the iconic show props, the Iron Throne.
Bend it like Beckham
In 2018, the queen got to meet one of her country's most famous sports stars, soccer player David Beckham. She smiled from ear to ear during the interaction, which took place at her Young Leaders Awards ceremony, which honors people between 18 and 29 each year. Beckham's met the queen a few times in the past, including at the same event in 2016 and when he received the Officer of the Order of the British Empire title from her in 2003.
The monarch looked incredibly excited to be sitting next to Dame Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, during London Fashion Week in February 2018. They sat in the front row of British fashion designer Richard Quinn's runway show before the queen presented him with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.
From politics to pop culture, the queen never ceases to delight. Long may she reign!
This story was originally published in September of 2015.