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90th birthday

PHOTOS: Queen Elizabeth's reign over the last six decades

The British monarch turns 90 today.

TODAY MARKS QUEEN Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday.

The monarch has reigned for 64 years, during which time the British empire has changed dramatically.

There have been 12 prime ministers over the course of her reign.

baby The Duke and Duchess of York with their baby daughter Princess Elizabeth on 29 April 1926. PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, known as Lilibet, was born on 21 April 1926, with no expectation of being queen.

Her fate dramatically changed when her childless uncle Edward VIII abdicated in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American.

child Princess Elizabeth arriving at the 16th Century Church at Balcombe, Sussex, for the wedding of Lady May Cambridge and Captain Henry Abel Smith on 24 October 1931. PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Princess Elizabeth’s father inherited the crown as George VI and she suddenly became heir to the throne.

On her 21st birthday, she vowed to spend her life serving her country, but this promise was put to the test sooner than she could have imagined.

Her father died suddenly in 1952 at the age of 56, making Elizabeth queen at the age of 25.

1953 The scene after the crowning ceremony on 2 June 1953 in Westminster Abbey, showing the Queen wearing the St Edward Crown and carrying the Sceptre and the Rod. orla orla

She was by then married to Philip, a distant cousin, whom she has described as “my strength and stay”.

They have four children: Charles (born in 1948) Anne (1950), Andrew (1960) and Edward (1964).

Here are photos from each of the six decades she has reigned in:

PHOTOS: Queen Elizabeth's reign over the last six decades
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  • 1959

    Queen Elizabeth II with the Duke of Edinburgh visiting Schefferville, Quebec, during her tour of Canada.Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images
  • 1969

    Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh (behind the Queen) arrive at the Royal Festival Hall, London for the Royal St. Cecilia's Day Concert in aid of the Musicians' Benevolent Fund and Allied Charities.Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images
  • 1977

    Queen Elizabeth II on board the Royal yacht Britannia during a dinner party for the West Indies Associated States, during her Silver Jubilee tour of the Caribbean.Source: Ron Bell / PA Archive/Press Association Images
  • 1985

    Queen Elizabeth II takes the salute of the Household Guards regiments during the Trooping of the Colour ceremony in London, which marks the Queen's official birthday.Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images
  • 1999

    Britain's Queen Elizabeth II records her Christmas Day message to the Commonwealth at Buckingham Palace. This picture was taken while she was recording the version of the message which is heard on the radio.Source: Fiona Hanson/PA Archive/Press Association Images
  • 2005

    Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wear safety glasses during a laser surgery demonstration at the University College Hospital, London, during a tour of the new facility which was officially opened by the Queen.Source: D Mail/M Dunlea/PA Archive/Press Association Images
  • 2015

    Queen Elizabeth II attends the traditional CHOGM dinner at the Corinthia Palace Hotel in Attard, Malta.Source: Toby Melville/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Charles (67) is increasingly taking her place at public engagements but experts agree she will most likely hold on to the end and not follow her Dutch and Spanish royal peers by abdicating.

To mark her milestone birthday, the Royal family posed for a four-generation portrait featuring the Queen, her son Prince Charles, her grandson William and her great-grandson George.

© AFP 2016

Watch: Britain’s biggest royal fans count down to the Queen’s birthday

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