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Friday, 4 August, 2000, 21:16 GMT 22:16 UK
Night at ballet for Queen Mother
The Queen Mother and the Queen
Queen Mother 'deeply appreciated the tributes she received'
The Queen Mother has rounded off her 100th birthday celebrations with a trip to the ballet accompanied by her two daughters.

She was last with Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in the Royal Box at the Opera House in London's Covent Garden 54 years ago.

The Royal party were treated on Friday night to the delights of the Kirov Ballet, which performed a mixed dance programme choreographed by the legendary Mikhail Fokine.

The Queen Mother had previously expressed her gratitude to the thousands of well-wishers who helped to mark her birthday in style.

King George VI, Princess Margaret, Princess Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth
The Royal Family in 1937
The Kirov danced a selection from Petrushka, Le Spectre de la Rose, the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor, and Scheherazade.

As the Queen Mother arrived at the Royal Opera House she was greeted with a spontaneous cheer from the 400 well-wishers gathered outside.

They sang Happy Birthday as she stepped from a chauffeur-driven limousine with her daughters.

The crowd cheered again and broke into applause as the song ended.

The Queen Mother, who was wearing a sparkling pale green gown, acknowledged them with a wave.

The Queen Mother, then Queen Consort, her husband King George VI, George V's widow Queen Mary, Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth, now the Queen, were in the exclusive Royal Box when the Opera House reopened after the Second World War on 20 February, 1946.

'Touched' by warm welcome

A spokeswoman for the Queen Mother said on Friday that she had been "very touched by the warmth of the welcome she received from the many people on the route from Clarence House and outside Buckingham Palace".

She added that the Queen Mother "deeply appreciated the tributes she has received from this country and around the world".

Crowds had lined the streets of central London to watch the Queen Mother as she made a ceremonial birthday journey from her home to the palace.

Guards' procession
Standing at the gates of Clarence House to watch a guards' salute
She was greeted by a rendition of Happy Birthday sung by a 40,000-strong crowd as she stepped out onto the palace balcony.

She was joined by the Queen, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to look over a sea of flags, cameras and smiling faces.

After the appearance at Buckingham Palace, the family retired for lunch.

The celebrations started when the Queen Mother left Clarence House at 1145BST on Friday morning.

Dressed in a pale blue hat and dress, the Queen Mother refused a chair and stood beside her grandson, Prince Charles, to take the salute from the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and Grenadier Guards.

The Irish Guards provided one of many renditions of Happy Birthday.

Queen Mother
The Queen Mother receives a hand-written 100th birthday card from the Queen
She then opened and read a hand-written 100th birthday card from the Queen, delivered by Royal Mail postman Tony Nicholls.

Prince Charles accompanied her in an open horse-drawn carriage, decked with flowers in her gold and blue horseracing colours, along The Mall.

Gun salute

As the procession reached Buckingham Palace, the National Anthem was played.

A 41-gun salute sounded from Green Park, coinciding with 21-gun salutes in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The event ran smoothly despite fears that dissident Irish republicans might attempt to disrupt the celebrations.

Prime Minister Tony Blair joined the tributes, describing the Queen Mother's "immense understanding, not just of the country's history and traditions, but also this dedication and commitment and service to others".

"What really marks her out is this extraordinary sense of duty, this sense of obligation to others which she has," he said.

The Queen Mother later left Buckingham Palace and returned by car along The Mall to Clarence House, arriving there just before 1500BST.

The vehicle moved slowly so that well-wishers could see the Queen Mother smiling and waving.

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See also:

04 Aug 00 | World
World marks royal birthday
04 Aug 00 | UK
'A very special person'
04 Aug 00 | UK
Sharing the century
03 Aug 00 | Talking Point
Queen Mother: Your birthday tributes
04 Aug 00 | Scotland
Scotland marks royal centenary
04 Aug 00 | Wales
Wales salutes Queen Mother
04 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
NI tributes to Queen Mother
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