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Queen's 86th Birthday Marked By 21-Gun Salute (PICTURES)

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QUEENS 86TH BIRTHDAY
A 21-gun salute was fired by the Royal Navy today to mark the Queen's 86th birthday. | PA

A 21-gun salute was fired by the Royal Navy today to mark the Queen's 86th birthday.

The saluting gun at Fort Blockhouse at Gosport, Hampshire - at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour - was fired at noon by four specialist gunnery instructors.

Military gun salutes took place at several other military bases across the country to mark the Queen's birthday.

It is one of six royal events marked annually with the traditional gun salutes.

The custom dates back to the early days of sail when ships visiting foreign ports would discharge their guns before entering, proving they were empty and that the visit was peaceful.

The portable 19th century gun at Fort Blockhouse has been firing salutes since it was acquired by the Navy in 1957.

Also to mark the birthday, Royal Navy ships at Portsmouth Naval Base were "dressed overall" - displaying a variety of flags across the length of the ship.

A 62-gun salute was fired by The Royal Gibraltar Regiment at the Tower of London, the Ministry of Defence said.

It included 21 guns for the Queen's birthday, 20 because it's a royal palace, and 21 to follow a tradition in which ships would fire their guns before entering the City of London to show they were not threatening.

Hundreds of people also gathered for a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park to honour the Queen.

The salute was performed by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, using 80 Irish draft horses to pull six First World War-era guns into position.

The 41 rounds were then fired at 10-second intervals, the MoD said.

Also on The Huffington Post

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