Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

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

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Relevant Stories

04 Aug 98 | UK
Grace under pressure

04 Aug 98 | Health
Age is no barrier

Internet Links

The British Monarchy

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online