See the New Portrait of Queen Elizabeth for Her 96th Birthday -- With Two Special Guests

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Queen Elizabeth II is turning 96 with some special guests by her side. Ahead of the queen's birthday on Thursday, the royal family's official Instagram account shared a new portrait of the queen, posing elegantly alongside two of her fell ponies, Bybeck Katie and Bybeck Nightingale.

Dressed in a dark green coat, the queen is seen posing on the grounds of Windsor Castle, as the two, white ponies stand on either side of her.

"Ahead of The Queen’s 96th Birthday tomorrow, @royalwindsorhorseshow have released a new photograph of Her Majesty with two of her fell ponies, Bybeck Katie and Bybeck Nightingale," the caption began. "Taken last month in the grounds of Windsor Castle, the photo is the fourth in a series of photos released by the Royal Windsor Horse Show, following images that celebrated the Golden Jubilee, the Platinum Jubilee and Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday."

An avid equestrian, the queen has attended every single Royal Windsor Horse Show since its inception in 1943.

The queen's new photo comes after a royal source told ET that the long-reigning monarch will be traveling to Sandringham to celebrate her birthday.

"The queen will spend her 96th birthday privately at Sandringham. She will travel to Sandringham from her base at Windsor," the source explained. "Sandringham holds a very special place in her heart, as it is where Prince Philip spent many of the last years of his life."

Sandringham is also where her father died, and is the location the queen returns to each year to commemorate the sad occasion. 

"Every year, on February 6, the day of his death, she has returned to Sandringham. The family also has traditionally spent Christmas at Sandringham," the source added.

Ahead of her birthday celebration, the queen also caught up with her grandson, Prince Harry. Harry sat down with the Today show's Hoda Kotb -- while taking part in this year's Invictus Games -- to talk about his recent visit with his grandmother, his first in nearly two years.

"Being with her, it was great. It was just so nice to see her," Harry shared. "She’s on great form."

In an advanced clip of the full interview, which aired Tuesday on NBC Nightly News, Harry recalled how he and the queen shared laughs over tea, amid increasing concerns regarding her health following her battle with COVID-19.

"She’s always got a great sense of humor with me," Harry said of his relationship with his grandmother. "It was really nice to catch up with her."

Harry said that, despite moving to the United States with his wife, Meghan Markle, and their children -- son Archie, 2, and daughter Lilibet, 10 months -- he's doing everything in his power to make sure his grandmother is getting all the support and help possible.

"I’m just making sure that she’s, you know, protected and got the right people around her," he explained.


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