Newspaper review: The Queen at 90 and tributes to Victoria Wood

As the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday, the papers mark the occasion with souvenir editions, commemorative pull-outs and posters.

And one photograph dominates the front pages - a portrait of the Queen taken with her five great-grandchildren and two youngest grandchildren in the Green Drawing room at Windsor Castle on Easter Sunday.


The Daily Express says the youngest members of the immediate Royal Family are brought together with the head of state in the "intimate, touching" image taken by US photographer Annie Leibovitz.

"It was, said one who was involved in the process, a deliberate decision by the sovereign," writes the Daily Mail's royal correspondent Rebecca English. "For as much as this day has become a national celebration, it is also very much a family event too."

The photo, adds the paper, resembles in its lighting and composition, great royal oil paintings of the past.

It is a stunning picture that spans the royal generations, says the Daily Mirror, a "snapshot of the past and future of the monarchy... Surrounded by the seven youngest royals, the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday where she is happiest - at the heart of her family."

In the view of the Guardian "in a highly stylised portrait, it is the woman who is celebrated, rather than the sovereign".

Prince George is pictured and Queen is holding her youngest great-grandchild Princess Charlotte, who is 11 months, in her arms. According to the Daily Telegraph, the pose has deliberate echoes of Queen Victoria, who was often photographed surrounded by royal children.

Buckingham Palace also released a photograph taken on the terrace of Windsor Castle of the Queen in the company of her corgi and dorgi dogs, and one of her sitting on a sofa with daughter Princess Anne.

The photo shoot captures a relaxed side, says the Times.

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The Queen's accomplishment

In a leading article, the Daily Telegraph says the Queen stands for family, community and country, a passive patriotism that most of her subjects understand and appreciate.

"It has been the Queen's accomplishment to have kept the monarchy relevant at a time when it could have been overrun by the forces of modernism."

The Queen, says the Daily Mail, remains an exemplar of selflessness and fortitude.

The Sun says she is "Britain's rock" and deserves the admiration even of those cynical about the royals.

In a leader titled Magnificent Monarch, the Times, says the "Queen's sense of duty has cast her forbears in unflattering perspective. It has further served as a masterclass for her heirs."

"The Queen is more than a monarch, more than a mere figurehead, she is an institution and living embodiment of the British values of decency and respect," says the Daily Mirror.

Image copyright AP

Writing in the i, Paul Vallelly says only once - after the death in 1997 of Diana, Princess of Wales - has the Queen's judgement been seen as out of step.

The Queen has, he adds, "rarely put a foot wrong in 64 years on the throne... steadfast, stoical and sensible.... she has also overseen a surreptitious modernisation of the British monarchy, keeping it one step behind the times, but little more than that."

The Guardian says "there has never been, and there may never be again, a British monarch quite like Queen Elizabeth II".

But it says the longer her reign continues, "the closer Britain comes to the point at which an institution that does so much to define it will also have to change... Modern Britain should now begin a modern conversation about how these inescapable changes should happen."

Nation of fans

There are also glowing tributes to comedian Victoria Wood, who has died after a "short but brave" battle with cancer.

Her death at the age of 62, says the Times, stunned her family and a "nation of fans".

"Her everywoman, observational comedy, delivered in a dry, droll Lancastrian accent and fizzing with wit, mined the humour in the quotidian details of life," the paper says in its obituary.

"She rejected the trappings of fame because she felt that the moment that she started swanning up red carpets and skiing in glitzy resorts would be the moment that she lost touch with the normal lives that inspired her."

The New Day's headline references Wood's rise to fame on the male-dominated comedy circuit in the 1970s by describing her as the comedian "who made woman laugh". Her "mischievous brand of wit laughed at life's oddities", it says.

The Daily Telegraph says Wood was "one of Britain's first woman stand-up comics and the plump chanteuse of bittersweet songs, often with a social point."

In a front page tribute in the Guardian, Lucy Mangan describes Wood as "literally peerless".

"She carved out her own career without precedent - the only woman, the only solo artist, the only northern woman/solo artist creating, writing and performing plays, standup, sketch shows, drama," she writes.

Wood, says the Daily Mirror, was a "gentle genius", a pioneering female comedian. "The nation, and especially women, took Victoria to our hearts because she remained resolutely, Britishly, unshowy."

Christopher Stevens in the Daily Mail writes: "She never passed up an opportunity to poke fun at herself - and emphasise what an ordinary woman from an unremarkable background she was. But she was also a beloved performer, with the unforced knack of seeming to be a personal friend to everyone in the audience."

The Sun, like many papers, features the news of Wood's death on its front page. It says she "bravely laughed until the end" - joking with her two children as she sat up in bed at her home in north London hours before she died.

"A multi award-winning star with hugely diverse talents, Victoria was our everywoman - a true national treasure," adds the paper.

What the commentators say...

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Media captionFinancial commentator Louise Cooper, and Michael Booker, the deputy editor of The Daily Express join the BBC News Channel to review Thursday's front pages

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