Obama pays tribute to 'jewel' Queen Elizabeth after 90th birthday

Fri Apr 22, 2016 6:15pm EDT
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By Roberta Rampton

WINDSOR, England (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama flew to Queen Elizabeth's castle on Friday to wish happy birthday to the world's oldest monarch a day after she turned 90, calling her one of his favorite people.

The queen and her husband Prince Philip greeted the president and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama as their helicopter touched down on the manicured lawns of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world located about 20 miles (32 km) to the west of the British capital.

After chatting briefly, they climbed into the queen's Range Rover and the 94-year-old Philip drove them to the royal residence, which has been a family home for British monarchs for nearly 1,000 years, as trumpets sounded in the distance.

"I have to say I have never been driven by a Duke of Edinburgh before, but I can report it was very smooth riding," Obama later told reporters.

"The queen's been a source of inspiration for me like so many people around the world. She is truly one of my favorite people."

The Obamas later had dinner with a younger generation of royals, the queen's grandson Prince William, his wife Kate and his brother Prince Harry, at Kensington Palace in London.

Elizabeth, the oldest monarch in British history who has met 11 U.S. presidents, marked the milestone of reaching 90 with a walkabout on Thursday in Windsor where she met thousands of well-wishers.

Obama said he had offered his own personal congratulations and presented the queen with a photo album chronicling her visits to the United States and previous presidential meetings, beginning in 1951 when she met President Harry Truman.   Continued...

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are greeted by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh upon their arrival for lunch at Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque T