Queen Elizabeth II celebrates birthday with parade at Windsor Castle


Sunday, April 21st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


LONDON (AP) _ Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 76th birthday Sunday as guest of honor at a youth parade at Windsor Castle, followed by a private gathering of friends and family.

The queen appeared relaxed and smiling at the annual St. George's Day parade, held by members of Britain's scout movement.

Dressed in a navy blue overcoat, floral print dress and wearing a blue broad-brimmed hat with a feather, the queen was joined by her husband Prince Philip to watch the colorful ceremony in the sun-drenched castle quadrangle.

Several thousand well-wishers and tourists joined the scouts and their families for the parade. The crowd broke into clapping and cheering when the Band of the Irish Guards played ``Happy Birthday'' for the queen as a surprise.

Among the invited guests were 60 Venture Scouts, the most senior members of the movement, who carried out ceremonial duties at Westminster Abbey during the queen mother's funeral earlier this month.

Venture Scout Edmund Bing, 20, from London, chatted to the queen.

``She said how lucky we were to have such nice weather and also what a good turnout it was. She said it was so nice to see so many young people here,'' Bing said.

The British Scout movement has half a million members and is the country's largest youth movement.

To mark the queen's Golden Jubilee year, scouts from Commonwealth countries including Uganda, Zimbabwe and Australia were also on parade.

Other guests on hand to celebrate the queen's 50 years on the throne included Commonwealth Secretary-general Don McKinnon and the ambassadors of eight Commonwealth countries.

The parade was followed by a service in the St. George's Chapel at the castle.

The service marked a happier occasion for the queen at the chapel. Her recent appearances there included private family memorials after the deaths of her sister, Princess Margaret, on Feb. 9 at the age of 71 and of her mother, the Queen Mother Elizabeth, on March 30 at age 101.

The official mourning period for the Queen Mother ended Friday.