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Queen's birthday celebrations begin

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The stamps feature more personal images from her life.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- A special set of commemorative stamps for Queen Elizabeth II's 80th birthday went on sale in Britain Tuesday, signaling the start of a week of events to mark the monarch's landmark anniversary.

Europe's longest-serving monarch is already depicted on British stamps but the eight birthday stamps feature more personal images from eight decades of her life.

One snap from 1931 shows the 5-year-old Princess Elizabeth sleeping peacefully on her mother's shoulder while another shows her laughing at a horse show near her Windsor Castle residence, west of London, in 1985.

Others capture happy moments with other royal family members on board the now-decommissioned Royal Yacht Britannia.

Despite an apparent request from the queen herself for her 80th birthday celebrations on April 21 to be low-key, a number of events are taking place this week, with more planned around her "official" birthday on June 17.

On Wednesday, the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, 84, host a reception and lunch at Buckingham Palace in central London for others who also celebrate their 80th birthday on the same day.

On Thursday, the queen will visit the respected London-based foreign affairs think tank Chatham House and the British Broadcasting Corporation to mark the 80 years since both were granted coveted Royal Charters.

After a brief walkabout outside the BBC's historic Broadcasting House studios in central London, the queen will meet radio presenters, before sitting in on recordings of a children's drama and BBC Radio Four's "Woman's Hour" slot.

Thursday will also see the release of a specially-commissioned photograph of the monarch by Lord Anthony Snowdon, the former husband of her late sister, princess Margaret.

He last took an official portrait of the queen and her husband to mark their golden wedding anniversary in 1997.

But it is on her actual birthday Friday that most ordinary people will get the chance to offer their greetings as the queen goes on a walkabout in Windsor's cobbled streets.

The Band of the Irish Guards will play "Happy Birthday" as she and Prince Philip emerge from the castle before youth groups and local dignitaries offer their official congratulations.

The queen's eldest son, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, 57, then hosts a family dinner in her honor later that evening, the last event before a Service of Thanksgiving in St George's Chapel, Windsor, on Sunday.

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