By BBC UK
THE Queen has said she is “inspired” by the goodwill of the nation as celebrations for her Platinum Jubilee begin.
In a Jubilee message, she thanked the public for organising events and said “many happy memories” would be made.
Millions are gearing up for street parties to mark the monarch’s 70 years on the throne over the four-day bank holiday weekend.
A new official photograph of the Queen at Windsor Castle was also released.
As well as community celebrations across the country, there are a series of official events, starting with Thursday’s Trooping the Colour parade and ending on Sunday with a Jubilee Pageant through London.
The monarch said: “I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last 70 years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.”
The portrait released along with her message was taken by Ranald Mackechnie in the Victoria Vestibule at Windsor Castle earlier this year.
It shows the Queen looking contented, sitting on a cushioned window seat at the castle which has been her main home for the last couple of years. The famous Round Tower is visible through the window.
Mr Mackechnie took two previous portraits of the Queen alongside the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince George to mark her 90th birthday in 2016.
The traditional Trooping the Colour parade to mark the Queen’s official birthday involves more than 1,500 officers and soldiers and 350 horses from the Household Division, as well as an RAF flypast.
The 96-year-old monarch, who has mobility issues and has recently cancelled several public appearances, is likely to join members of the Royal Family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to watch the display.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are watching the parade, although they will not appear on the balcony.
The couple, who now live in the US, have a prime vantage point from the Duke of Wellington’s former office, overlooking Horse Guards Parade, where they can see Prince Charles inspect the guardsmen and officers and take their salute in his mother’s place.
They travelled with their children Archie, three, and Lilibet, who turns one on Saturday. Lilibet is the Queen’s family nickname.
The Queen’s son Prince Andrew, whose royal titles were returned to the Crown amid a lawsuit in the US, is not present.