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Queen hailed at church service

'You have given us heart,' says Dean of Windsor



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Queen Elizabeth II

WINDSOR, England (Reuters) -- Queen Elizabeth II was praised for her "calmness, serenity and stillness" at a special service of thanksgiving on Sunday to mark her 80th birthday.

Dean of Windsor David Conner offered the tribute in St George's Chapel, the 15th century Gothic church in Windsor Castle that is the burial place for 10 monarchs.

At the service rounding off a weekend of birthday celebrations, Conner told the monarch "You have given us heart."

The monarch was enjoying a weekend of public and private events to commemorate Friday's milestone, first holding a walkabout to meet well-wishers then a dinner with close family members.

The queen collected dozens of bouquets and cards from some of the 20,000 supporters who traveled to Windsor for the walkabout, and later dined by candlelight at a black-tie party at Kew Palace in south-west London, which featured a spectacular fireworks display.

Her son and heir to the throne Prince Charles paid a moving tribute to his mother in a broadcast to the nation on radio and television.

He said: "There is no doubt that the world in which my mother grew up and, indeed, the world in which she first became queen, has changed beyond all recognition.

"But during all those years she has shown the most remarkable steadfastness and fortitude, always remaining a figure of reassuring calm and dependability -- an example to so many of service, duty and devotion in a world of sometimes bewildering change and disorientation."

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.

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

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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