On the day she reaches the age of 90, the Queen puts the future of the monarchy front and centre in an official birthday portrait by Annie Leibovitz.

On her lap is the newest addition to the Royal family, 11-month-old Princess Charlotte, while two-year-old Prince George, the future king, stands at her knee.

The Queen also chose to share the spotlight with her three other great-grandchildren Mia Tindall, aged two, who was given the responsibility of holding the Queen's handbag; Savannah and Isla Phillips, aged five and three, and her two youngest grandchildren James, Viscount Severn, aged eight, and his sister Lady Louise Windsor, aged 12.

The Queen poses at Windsor Castle with her dogs Willow, Vulcan, Holly and Candy. Photo: Annie Leibovitz/AP
The Queen poses at Windsor Castle with her dogs Willow, Vulcan, Holly and Candy. Photo: Annie Leibovitz/AP

The pose has deliberate echoes of portraits of Queen Victoria, whose record reign the Queen surpassed last year, and who was often photographed surrounded by royal children, with the youngest in her arms.

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The portrait, taken in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle just after Easter, is one of three pictures by the American photographer released by Buckingham Palace.

Britain celebrates Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday on Thursday, with her eldest son Prince Charles paying tribute in a special radio broadcast and Prime Minister David Cameron leading a parliamentary homage.

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In the second, the Queen poses on a sofa in the White Drawing Room of Windsor Castle with her daughter, the Princess Royal, acknowledging her relentless and largely unrecognised work on behalf of Her Majesty.

The Queen with the Princess Royal. Photo: Annie Leibovitz/AP
The Queen with the Princess Royal. Photo: Annie Leibovitz/AP

The Princess, 65, is known as the hardest-working member of the Royal family, as she sometimes carries out the most engagements in any given year, but rarely receives any credit in the media.

The third picture shows the Queen with her beloved dogs in the private grounds of Windsor Castle - her two corgis Willow and Holly and her dorgie cross-breeds Vulcan and Candy.

Leibowitz previously photographed the Queen in 2007 to mark her State visit to the US, and has described her in the past as "cranky" and "feisty".

The 2007 photoshoot was filmed for a BBC documentary and led to the "Queengate" incident when a trailer was edited to give the false impression that the Queen had stormed out in a huff, when in fact she was on her way into the room. It led to the resignation of the BBC1 controller Peter Fincham.