Epic birthday celebration for queen showcases a passion

Epic celebration in U.K. for queen's 90th bir... 03:08

An artillery display in London helped Queen Elizabeth II mark her 90th birthday. The giant extravaganza Sunday caps off a nearly week-long celebration.

It was a late night for the 90-year-old, as the more than two-hour-long birthday party stretched on into the evening, reports CBS News correspondent Seth Doane. About 1,500 people took part, along with hundreds of horses, all broadcast live on TV.

Some in the royal box covered their ears during a deafening cannon salute, while the queen appeared completely unfazed. The celebrity-packed event featured tributes from Dame Helen Mirren, Kylie Minogue and military bands from the 53 countries that make up the British Commonwealth.

But overshadowing these A-listers were the real celebrities of the evening: 900 horses.

Royal commentator Roya Nikkhah was there and explained the monarch's love for the equestrian world.

"In the 60 plus years she has been queen, I think still it has been one of her very, very special hobbies where she's actually able to escape royal duties, escape official life and form a bond with horses," Nikkhah said. "And she is an excellent horsewoman and exceptionally knowledgeable about the horses that she owns, about blood lines, every part of equestrianism, she knows about.

Six-thousand spectators gathered on the grounds of Windsor Castle to watch performers from far-flung nations, from Azerbaijan to Fiji. The New Zealand army band ran in slow motion while playing the theme "Chariots of Fire."

For the finale, a giant cake was wheeled into the ring and those assembled sang happy birthday.

"When the camera would cut to the queen, she was certainly following along. She looked to be enjoying it, but she didn't look overjoyed," Doane observed.

"I think the queen very rarely looks completely overjoyed at public events. She knows the cameras are always on her, but actually, when we looked over at the royal box a couple of times, we saw her face really light up," Nikkhah said.

The queen's birthday was actually April 21, but celebrations will continue to stretch on into June with a street party for 10,000 guests in front of Buckingham Palace.