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Last Updated: Wednesday April 19 2006 08:39 GMT

Queen to begin 80th celebrations

The Queen

The Queen is to begin her 80th birthday celebrations with a lunch for 99 others who were born on the same day as her.

The specially invited guests will be treated to a three course meal at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.

Meanwhile the Queen's cousin has said that she thinks the Queen will never retire from her job as monarch.

Hon Margaret Rhodes said: "I'm perfectly certain she will never retire as such, because its not like a normal job, it's a job for life."

She said the vows the Queen made at her Coronation were very special, adding: "She wouldn't consider not continuing to fulfil those vows until she dies."

New portrait

The Queen, painted by Jemma Phipps by kind permission of Ascot Racecourses Ltd
New portrait of the Queen

A portrait of the Queen has also been unveiled to mark her 80th birthday, which will is on 21 April.

The picture, painted by Jemma Phipps, shows the her dressed in a pink suit and ready to go to the races at Ascot.

The Queen plans to spend her actual birthday at home at Windsor Castle at a dinner hosted by her son Prince Charles.

Other events are planned including a birthday Garden Party for children from all over the UK and a service of thanksgiving at St George's Chapel, Windsor on 23 April.