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Tuesday, August 4, 1998 Published at 02:55 GMT 03:55 UK


UK

Queen Mother keeps step on 98th birthday

The Queen Mother greets children outside Clarence House

The Queen Mother is celebrating her 98th birthday at Clarence House in London.


BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond describes the celebrations
Thousands of people greeted the royal family's oldest member as she thanked for their cards and flowers.

Arriuving at the gates in a bright yellow dress, she waved as a marching band of Welsh Guards played a specially-composed Royal Birthday March and Happy Birthday.


[ image: Children gave the Queen Mother birthday cards]
Children gave the Queen Mother birthday cards
A queue of more then 30 children gave her birthday cards and flowers.

The Queen Mother insisted on a walkabout to meet the crowds, although she used a stick and was later driven in her buggy.

She spoke to well-wishers for 40 minutes and was handed bouquets and cards wishing her many happy returns.

A 41-gun birthday salute sounded in nearby Hyde Park as she rode back to Clarence House.

Just before lunch she again emerged from Clarence House with several members of the royal family, including Prince Charles and his sons William and Harry.

She later had lunch with the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry and other senior royals.

Composer proud of march

The Queen Mother's March was composed 14 years ago in a kitchen by a loyal subject, Geoffrey Woods.

He said: "I felt in 1984 that it was about time she had her own march because she has always been known as a lover of military music.

"So I thought I'd have a bash. But I'm not a musician so I had to use my voice as an instrument.

"I gradually built it up by humming into a tape recorder.


Kitchen sink drama: Composer Geoffrey Woods on his birthday march
"Then we had a few rehearsals, my wife and I marching in the kitchen."

His cassette received a warm reception at Clarence House and his tune was adopted as the Queen Mother's March, but this is the first time it has been played at her birthday.

"I feel very proud," said Mr Woods. "If you don't ask you don't get. It's rather like David slaying the lion."

The Queen Mother, who underwent a hip replacement operation earlier this year following a fall at Sandringham, will later fly to Balmoral with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh for the Royals' traditional summer break.

Previously, the royals have embarked on an annual Western Isles cruise aboard Britannia, en route to the Queen's Scottish estate.

But the journey north will this year be by air now that the Royal Yacht Britannia has been decommissioned without a replacement.

The Prince of Wales, with William and Harry, is expected to fly to Greece to join the luxury yacht Alexander, owned by billionaire John Latsis, to cruise the Greek islands before going to Balmoral.





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