Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 96th birthday with her two majestic ponies: See the photo

Pamela Avila
USA TODAY

Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her 96th birthday in good company. 

Ahead of the queen's birthday on Thursday, The Royal Windsor Horse show shared a new portrait of the monarch Wednesday evening. 

"Taken last month in the grounds of Windsor Castle, The Queen is pictured with two of her fell ponies, Bybeck Katie and Bybeck Nightingale," wrote the official account for The Royal Family on Twitter. 

In the photo, the queen stands proudly between Bybeck Katie and Bybeck Nightingale, donning a forest green cape-style coat while holding the reins of her two ponies. 

"Happy Birthday Your Majesty!" the tweet concluded. 

Harry and Meghan visit the queen: The couple reunites with Queen Elizabeth II on their way to Invictus Games

Queen Elizabeth II holds her fell ponies, Bybeck Nightingale (right) and Bybeck Katie.

The queen is marking her 96th birthday privately on Thursday, retreating to the Sandringham estate in eastern England that has offered the monarch and her late husband, Prince Philip, a refuge from the affairs of state.

Elizabeth is expected to spend the day at the estate’s Wood Farm cottage, a personal sanctuary where she also spent her first Christmas since Philip’s death in April 2021. Philip loved the cottage, in part because it is close to the sea, she said in February when hosting a rare public event at Sandringham.

Members of the royal family were among the first to post their well-wishes to the queen online.

"Wishing Her Majesty The Queen a very happy 96th birthday today," read a post from Prince William and Duchess Kate's official accounts, calling William's grandmother "an inspiration to so many across the UK, the Commonwealth and the world, it’s particularly special to be celebrating in this #PlatinumJubilee year."

The couple shared two photos: One of the queen, candidly standing among trees with Will and Kate; another of the queen and Philip, sitting on a couch with seven of their great-grandchildren. 

"Wishing Her Majesty The Queen a particularly special 96th birthday today, as we celebrate her Platinum Jubilee year," read a post from Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla's accounts, which featured several photos of the queen with Charles and Camilla through the years. 

And the official royal family social accounts shared a photo of then-Princess Elizabeth at age 2, beaming with her face resting in her hands. 

"Then, in 1928, it was never expected she would be Queen, and this year Her Majesty is celebrating her #PlatinumJubilee - a first in British history," read the @RoyalFamily post.

In the days leading up to her birthday, the queen has spent some quality time with her grandson Prince Harry and his wife, Duchess Meghan of Sussex. 

Last Thursday, the two visited Queen Elizabeth for the first time in two years during their visit to the United Kingdom ahead of the fifth Invictus Games

In an interview Wednesday with the "Today" show, Harry spoke fondly about reuniting his grandmother. "Being with her, it was great," he said. "It was just so nice to see her."

"She’s on great form," Harry said of his grandmother, who suffered a bout of COVID-19 in February. The queen has also been experiencing mobility problems and cutting back on public duties after spending a night in the hospital last fall.

More:Queen Elizabeth II holds first in-person meeting since COVID-19 diagnosis with Justin Trudeau

Prince William, his son Prince George, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles help prepare special Christmas puddings in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace as part of the launch of The Royal British Legion's Together at Christmas program.

Last month she attended a memorial service for her late husband Prince Philip and has continued to meet virtually with diplomats and politicians. 

On Easter Sunday, the queen was also missing from Sunday service at St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle, which the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, attended. 

Queen carries on: Elizabeth II leads royals at memorial service for Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey

Contributing: Edward Segarra, Maria Puente and Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY; and the Associated Press