Queen notches up 68 years on the throne

The Queen is marking the 68th anniversary of her accession to the throne.

Gun salutes will be fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park and the Honourable Artillery Company at the Tower of London to commemorate the occasion.

The bells of Westminster Abbey, the gothic church where the Queen was married and crowned, will also ring out to mark Accession Day.

State Opening of Parliament 2019
The Queen during the State Opening of Parliament in October 2019 (Victoria Jones/PA)

The monarch has faced a turbulent time in recent weeks, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex preparing to quit royal life.

And the Queen’s second son, the Duke of York, is facing calls to speak to the FBI in the US.

Andrew, who turns 60 later this month, stepped down from royal duties in November after his disastrous Newsnight interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Commonwealth Day 2019
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are quitting royal life and the Duke of York has stepped down from royal duties (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

The Queen – the nation’s longest reigning monarch – will mark the anniversary of her accession privately at Sandringham, where she has been staying during her winter break.

She was out and about on Wednesday – the day before her accession anniversary – opening Wolferton’s new pumping station, which dries out the surrounding marshland for farming on the Norfolk estate.

The Queen started the pumps from the control room before unveiling a plaque to commemorate her visit to the place which staff say has been, ‘keeping Norfolk’s feet dry’ for over 70 years. pic.twitter.com/ZFUqm8LiYC

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) February 5, 2020

The Queen carried out the engagement 72 years after her father, King George VI, opened the original station in February 1948, and recalled how he used to walk his corgis there.

She also visited nearby RAF Marham on Monday to see training demonstrations of engine maintenance and weapons loading at the military base.

A fortnight ago, the Queen, 93, missed a planned meeting at her local Women’s Institute because of a slight cold.

The Queen at RAF Marham
The Queen is escorted past a guard of honour at RAF Marham in Norfolk (Richard Pohle/The Times/PA)

The Duke of Edinburgh, 98, who spends much of his time on the Sandringham estate after retiring in 2017, spent four nights in hospital just before Christmas for treatment relating to a “pre-existing condition”.

The Queen is just two years away from celebrating her Platinum Jubilee – 70 years on the throne.

Elizabeth II has ruled for 24,837 days, passing her Silver, Golden, Diamond and Sapphire Jubilees.

Royal visit to Northern Ireland
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh during a Diamond Jubilee visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2012 (Julien Behal/PA)

Princess Elizabeth became Queen on February 6 1952, on the death of her beloved father.

She was just 25 and thousands of miles from home on a Commonwealth tour with Philip in Kenya when the King died in his sleep from lung cancer at Sandringham House.

The Queen's accession
The new Queen makes her way to Clarence House with the Duke of Edinburgh from London Airport after the sudden death of her father, King George VI (PA)

The Queen usually returns to London soon after her anniversary.

She will be hosting a state visit by the Emperor of Japan at Windsor Castle in the spring.

Her granddaughter, Princess Beatrice, Andrew’s eldest daughter, is also preparing to marry property tycoon Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi later this year.

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