Britain's Queen Elizabeth II turns 96

Birthday of Britain's longest-serving monarch was marked with gun salute, with official celebrations set for June 11.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II turns 96

The 96th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, was marked with gun salutes across the UK on Thursday.

A 41-round salute was fired at Hyde Park at midday to mark the birthday of the queen, the only royal ruler most British citizens have ever known.

The queen’s actual birthday, April 21, is celebrated with other ceremonious events in the UK, but she officially celebrates her birthday in June, on a date announced by the Buckingham Palace every year. This year the queen’s birthday will be celebrated on June 11.

Gun salutes were also held on Wednesday at the Tower of London and Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle, as well as other locations.

The queen chose to travel to her Norfolk estate for her 96th birthday. A new photograph, traditionally released on her birthday every year, was also issued. The portrait released by the Royal Windsor Horse Show shows the queen holding the reins of two white ponies at Windsor Castle.

Queen Elizabeth II will also celebrate her Platinum Jubilee this year with various events, ceremonies, special concerts, and street parties on her 70th anniversary of ascending to the British throne.

She is also being honored with a Barbie doll in her likeness this year, as toymaker Mattel said it is commemorating the jubilee with a Tribute Collection doll. The doll will be on store shelves at some of the biggest stores in the UK.

Last year on April 21, all events, including traditional gun salutes, were canceled as the queen was mourning her husband, Prince Philip, who passed away that April 9. She spent a quiet day with family members.

Born on April 21, 1926, Queen Elizabeth is the United Kingdom’s longest-reigning monarch. She has held the British throne since Feb. 6, 1952, following the death of her father, George VI.