Birthday wishes

The Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps Alistair Harrison looks forward to a busy spring and summer as the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday.

I am writing this in the first days of April after returning to the office from a week in Suffolk with the children. The UK’s four seasons have all been represented in the Royal Parks today – cold in the morning (especially for those like me who flatly refuse to wear a coat after Easter); fierce spring showers during parts of the day; glorious summer sunshine during other times. But the daffodils are blooming, which proves that winter is over. Almost.

We are looking forward to a particularly busy spring and summer. Her Majesty celebrated Her 90th birthday on 21 April. She celebrated it at Windsor with a walkabout and cheering crowds.

In June there will be the official birthday celebrations which will follow a familiar pattern. On Friday 10 June there will be a service of thanksgiving in St Paul›s Cathedral. On Saturday 11 June there will be the official Birthday Parade on Horseguards. And the following day there will be street parties in many parts of London, notably on The Mall (for Her Majesty›s charities). If the weather is fine I suspect there will be much jollification throughout London and the rest of the UK that day. The following week is Royal Ascot, preceded by the annual Garter Service at Windsor on Monday 13 June.

July tends to be a month when many Ambassadors and High Commissioners leave at the end of their postings. I hope to call on each of you who are leaving to bid farewell on behalf of The Queen. Please let my office know when you have a clear date for departure, and we will make the arrangements. Don’t leave without saying goodbye!

Outside London one of the major events this spring is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare›s death in Stratford on 23 April. There will be a lot of Shakespeare in the UK this year (there always is) as well as in other parts of the world.

I have seen all but nine and a half of his plays including on a Cornish clifftop, in a ruined church in Gdansk, outdoors in Oxford, indoors in the New York Armoury and (on film only) at Hamlet’s castle in Denmark (the play was Hamlet!). I hope to cross off a couple more plays this summer, and revisit some more…

Best wishes to everyone for a great spring and summer.