London (Reuters) – A smiling Queen Elizabeth kicked off celebrations for the 70th anniversary of her accession to the British throne by inviting local community groups on Saturday to her Sandringham residence in the east of England.
Sunday will mark the queen’s platinum jubilee, a first for a British monarch.
Elizabeth, 95, became the queen of Britain and more than a dozen other realms including Canada, Australia and New Zealand on the death of her father King George VI on Feb. 6, 1952, while she was in Kenya on an international tour.
The queen’s guests at Sandringham included Angela Wood, who as a cookery student in 1953 helped to create Coronation Chicken, a curry and mayonnaise-based dish invented to celebrate Elizabeth’s reign and that is still enjoyed today.
The queen, wearing a light blue dress, also cut a celebratory cake baked by a local resident and heard a rendition of “Congratulations” played by a concert band, Buckingham Palace said.
Elizabeth has continued to carry out official duties well into her 90s, but has been little seen in public since she spent a night in hospital last October for an unspecified ailment and was then instructed by doctors to rest.
However, Buckingham Palace on Friday released footage ahead of Sunday’s landmark, showing her viewing items from previous royal jubilees, such as a fan given to her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria to mark her 50th year on the throne in 1887, signed by family, friends and politicians.
Ironically Elizabeth was not destined to be monarch at her birth, and became queen only because her uncle Edward VIII abdicated to be with American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
But in 2015, she overtook Victoria as Britain’s longest-reigning sovereign in a line that traces its origin back to Norman King William I and his 1066 conquest of England.
This weekend’s low-key events are a prelude to more pomp and ceremony to mark the platinum jubilee in early June. The government has added an extra public holiday to the usual spring day off to make for a four-day weekend.