All hail the Queen! To mark her 90th birthday, Queen Elizabeth II sat for a portrait session with Annie Leibovitz. The photos, along with an essay by William Shawcross, provide a wide-ranging tribute to the longest-serving monarch in British history.

The Queen is a phenomenon: she is celebrated all over the world, without ever having done anything to court such fame. Her values are quite different—she sees herself not as a star but as a humble servant, first of God and then of her people.
At 90, the Queen is the oldest monarch in the thousand years of the British monarchy. And she is our longest-reigning monarch. But that is not a record she ever sought—it is the result of her beloved father, King George VI, dying prematurely, aged 56, in 1952, when she was only 25. Since then she has devotedly fulfilled the promise she made to serve her country for as long as she should live. Britain has changed almost beyond recognition since 1952, but she has been constant, working tirelessly to retain the consent of her ever changing people. She has understood that the Crown is an office, defined by duties, and not an individual, moved by hopes and fears.

She has quietly adapted the office so that it remains the small voice of calm to which people turn for reassurance in social and political storms. She has been the center which has always, always held. She has often said that she can do this only because she tries to follow the example of Christ “to serve, not to be served.” Her personality—kind, loyal, patriotic, and imbued with Christian feeling—has never changed. The beloved Queen of 64 years is still the vulnerable, dutiful young Elizabeth who was anointed with holy oil and crowned on a rainy day in 1953.

For more details, read more from the source Vanity Fair

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