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Birthday walkabout for queen at 80

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The queen accepts gifts from well-wishers on her birthday walkabout.

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Queen Elizabeth II

WINDSOR, England (CNN) -- To the tune of a brass band playing "Happy Birthday," a beaming Queen Elizabeth II joined throngs of loyal subjects at Britain's Windsor Castle to celebrate as she turns 80.

Dressed in a cerise-colored outfit with matching hat, the sprightly queen accepted flowers and best wishes from thousands of flag-waving supporters lining the streets Friday.

She completed and extended 45-minute walkabout accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, before being carried through the streets in her royal Rolls Royce back to the castle.

The swell of support for the monarch -- 10 years away from rivaling Queen Victoria's record 64-years on the throne -- has helped revive the fortunes of the British royal family after a turbulent decade.

Showing no signs of slowing down, the queen has has ruled out abdication and, according to recent polls, she has nothing to fear from republican calls for the abolition of the monarchy.

"We'll be wishing her a very happy birthday," one member of the crowd at Windsor told CNN.

"I'm a very loyal subject, I have followed the queen since I was seven years old and that's our way of saying thank you."

Some 20,000 birthday cards and 17,000 emails have been sent from around the world to commemorate the event.

CNN Correspondent Paula Newton, in Windsor, said Friday's turnout reflected the queen's popularity in spite of recent troubles that have beset the British royals.

"These are people who do not just respect and admire this woman -- they adore her."

The queen's image was tarnished following the 1997 death in a car crash of Princess Diana, the estranged wife of Prince Charles, when she was seen as being distant in the face of widespread public grief.

That followed her so-called "annus horribilis" in 1992, when Windsor Castle was ravage by fire and the marriages of three of her four children broke up.

"I doubt whether any of us would say that the last 80 years has been plain sailing," the queen said in an address on the eve of her birthday.

"But we can give thanks for our health and happiness, the support we receive from our families and friends, some wonderful memories, and the excitement that each new day brings."

Job for life

According to Countess Mountbatten, a close friend of the queen, the monarch was determined to see her position as monarch through the end, even as her eldest son waits in the wings.

"She regards the job as a job for life," she said in a BBC interview.

Queen Elizabeth was born in London April 21, 1926, and was crowned queen June 2, 1953, after the death of her father, King George VI..

She was proclaimed queen in February 1952 at age 25 after the death of her father, King George VI, and was crowned the following year.

Married with four children -- Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward -- she juggled motherhood and her job as head of state, the armed forces, the Commonwealth and the Church of England.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher professed admiration for the queen in an interview.

"The queen takes a tremendous interest in every aspect of life in our country. And she brings to bear a formidable grasp of current issues and a tremendous breath of experience," Thatcher said.

"Her guidance and advice are always most acute, and as prime minister I was privileged to benefit from both enormously. She is truly an inspiration and an example to the whole nation. Long may she rule. Happy birthday, ma'am."

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