Queen joins Prince George for first birthday party
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II joined her great-grandson Prince George at his first birthday party on Tuesday as his parents thanked well-wishers around the world for their warmth and generosity.
Prince William and his wife Kate threw a private bash at their refurbished apartment in London's Kensington's Palace to mark the occasion, with the 88-year-old monarch top of the exclusive guest list that included only royalty, godparents and close friends.
Queen's Elizabeth's green Bentley car was greeted by crowds as it drove through the palace gates.
"We can confirm that the Queen has arrived at Kensington Palace," a royal spokeswoman told AFP.
Kate's parents Michael and Carole Middleton were also seen entering the palace, as was her brother James.
Away from the party, the queen earlier had some private time with George when William and Kate took him to Buckingham Palace.
To mark the prince's birthday, two new photographs of George and his parents were released, showing the toddler fascinated by butterflies during a private visit to London's Natural History Museum.
In a short message accompanying the pictures, William and Kate thanked the public for their good wishes towards the little prince.
"We would like to take this opportunity on George's first birthday to thank everyone over the last year, wherever we have met them, both at home and overseas, for their warm and generous good wishes to George and our family," they said.
In one of the pictures, George looks about to touch a blue morpho butterfly that has landed on the back of his father's right hand. In the other picture, William, Kate and their son are transfixed by something up in the air ahead of them.
The rare shots of George were taken a few weeks ago during a private visit to the museum's outdoor butterfly exhibition.
"He is very confident on his feet, and very fast," one unnamed onlooker at the shoot told The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
"He is quite determined once he gets going, he didn't want to be stopped. He put his arms out for balance but he wasn't stumbling at all, he is steady on his feet."
- Cards and cuddly squirrel -
Grandfather Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were unable to attend the birthday as they were in Scotland on their annual summer visit.
However, the Scottish Wildlife Trust gave the heir to the throne a giant red squirrel cuddly toy to pass on to little George.
Elena Sanderson, four, presented Charles with a special birthday card for George made by the ABC Day Nursery in Perth.
Aileen McFarlane, a childcare practitioner at the nursery, said: "We knew it was the baby prince's birthday so we thought we would make a card and bring it along.
"They all made it and it was certainly worth it."
William's cousin Zara Phillips, daughter of the queen's daughter Princess Anne and one of George's godparents, attended the party, along with her husband Mike Tindall, the former England rugby captain.
Charles's Clarence House residence thanked everyone who sent birthday wishes on Twitter -- the social networking site which George's uncle Prince Harry on Monday admitted he hated.
The bells of Westminster Abbey in London, where William and Kate got married in April 2011, rang out to mark George's birthday.
His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge was born at 4:24 pm (1524 GMT) at London's St. Mary's Hospital on July 22, 2013, weighing eight pounds and six ounces (3.8 kilogrammes).
William and Kate, both 32, have been hands-on in bringing up their son, bathing him and putting the little prince to bed.
They have revealed that George is a "rascal" who wriggles around a lot and does not want to go to sleep much.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are determined to give George as much of a normal upbringing as they can, keeping him largely out of the spotlight.
But the cherubic royal has charmed onlookers during his few appearances in the public eye, particularly during the royal tour of New Zealand and Australia in April.
The highlights of his first 12 months include his Christening in October, Christmas at the queen's private Sandringham estate, and the tour Down Under.
© 2014 AFP