20 APRIL 2008

Queen Elizabeth has opted for a low-key affair to see in her 82nd year on Monday. The British monarch is believed to be spending the evening enjoying a quiet dinner at Windsor Castle.

The private celebration comes in contrast to the national events that marked her birthday two years ago. Even though she's at an age when most people are taking it quietly, the Queen still has a full list of engagements in both the UK and abroad. Next month sees her head to Turkey for a three-day state visit.

She is also very much at the centre of her family, most recently attending the christening of her eighth grandchild, James, at the weekend.

Meanwhile, preparations are underway for another important royal birthday later this year. To mark the Prince of Wales turning 60 in November, a new pictorial biography looks at the heir to the throne's life through a series of fascinating snapshots and letters.

Moving from early childhood through to his marriage to the Duchess of Cornwall, the book includes many touching images never seen in public. Notable inclusions include a letter written by five-year-old Charles to his "granny" – the late Queen Mother. With lines to help the youngster keep his writing straight, the note ends in crayon kisses and hugs for his beloved relative.

The book will be released next month to coincide with an exhibition at Windsor Castle on the Prince's life.

Photo: © Alphapress.com
Even though she's in her 80s the Queen keeps up a busy workload, such as hosting last month's state visit to the UK by the French President and his wife, Carla
Photo: © Alphapress.com
Windsor Castle is a favourite residence of the royals. The Queen plans a private dinner there to mark her important day