LONDON — Britain's Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 90th birthday Thursday, attracting crowds of well-wishers and messages of support including congratulations from PM David Cameron and Google.
Supporters in union flag regalia began to gather Wednesday night outside Windsor Castle, near London, where the monarch was due to mark the day with her family.
Gun salutes were planned late Thursday at Windsor as well as at London's Hyde Park and the Tower of London.
Michelle Lowe was among those waiting outside the Windsor Castle to get a glimpse of the queen.
"We got here at 9 o'clock last night, so we spent a cold but enjoyable night here," said Lowe, a 50-year-old hotel housekeeper from Birmingham, England. "At midnight we sang happy birthday to the Queen. We enjoy it — we had a good laugh."
Janet Reynolds, a housewife from Tunbridge Wells in her seventies, described the atmosphere as "fantastic."
Born on April 21, 1926, Queen Elizabeth II is the world's oldest monarch. She has reigned for 64 years and is still viewed favorably by 66 percent of Britons, compared with just 10 percent who have a negative view of her, according to a poll last week by the London Evening Standard newspaper.
PM Cameron said in a birthday video message that the nonagenarian was "a rock of strength for our nation."
"On behalf of the whole country I want to wish Her Majesty the Queen a very special 90th birthday," he said, adding that she had "devoted her entire life to the service of others, representing our country and carrying out all her duties with extraordinary grace and humility."
Google's UK homepage featured an emoji-style crown and the message: "Happy 90th Birthday, Ma'am."
The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, read an edited passage from William Shakespeare's "Henry VIII" on the BBC World Service.
His reading included the line: "She shall be, to the happiness of England, an aged princess; many days shall see her, and yet no day without a deed to crown it."
Her grandson, Prince William, told Sky News that the sovereign had been a "strong female influence" when his mother, Princess Diana, died in a car crash in 1997.
"Having lost my mother at a very young age, it has been particularly important for me that I had somebody like the queen to look up to and who has been there and has understood some of the more complex issues when you lose a loved one," he said.
England's most senior Anglican priest, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, also tweeted a birthday message.