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Queen Elizabeth makes history as she reaches her Sapphire Jubilee

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The Queen has today made history as she became the first British monarch to reach their Sapphire Jubilee.

On February 6, the anniversary of the day she became Queen, Elizabeth II will have reigned for 65 years.

She is expected to commemorate the landmark date privately at her Sandringham Estate, Norfolk, with no official engagements planned.

Royal gun salutes will be staged in London on Ascension Day, as is the tradition, with a 41-gun salute by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park at noon.

The Band of the Royal Artillery will play a selection of celebratory music close to the firing position, and 89 horses will pull six First World War-era 13-pounder field guns into position in the park.

A 62-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company will be fired at the Tower of London at 1pm.

The Royal Mint is to mark the 65th anniversary with a range of specially designed Sapphire Jubilee commemorative coins, as the Royal Mail issues a Sapphire Blue £5 stamp.

A portrait by David Bailey, taken in 2014 and showing the Queen wearing a suite of sapphire jewellery given to her by King George VI as a wedding gift, will also be reissued.

The Queen, who missed church over Christmas due to a heavy cold, will may well be matter-of-fact about the historic occasion.

In 2015, when she thanked the nation for its kind messages after overtaking Queen Victoria to become the longest-reigning monarch in British history, she admitted the royal record was “not one to which I have ever aspired”.

She added: “Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception.”

The Royal Mint of a new £5 coin designed by Glyn Davies to celebrate the Queen's Sapphire Jubilee

The Royal Mint of a new £5 coin designed by Glyn Davies to celebrate the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee

The Queen celebrated her 90th birthday last year, with activities including a walkabout, beacon lighting and a black tie dinner for family and friends in Windsor on her actual birthday.

A weekend of national celebrations, including a party on The Mall, was held for her official birthday in June.

It is likely that any large-scale jubilee celebrations will be reserved for the Platinum Jubilee in 2022 – although any events will take into account the fact that Queen is due to turn 96 that year.

The Duke of Cambridge will this summer become a full-time royal, increasing his official duties on behalf of the Queen.

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Military patrols Ecuador’s capital as clashes resume and many defy curfew

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Armored military vehicles patrolled the streets of Ecuador’s capital, Quito, on Sunday after police and protesters clashed and many residents defied a curfew imposed by President Lenin Moreno in a bid to quell unrest triggered by fuel subsidy cuts.

Ecuadoreans posted videos on social media of burning road blockades and standoffs between crowds and security forces in downtown Quito ahead of the first round of talks aimed at ending 11 days of unrest.

The interior minister said a group of vandals had again set fire to the comptroller’s office and that some 500 people had defied police barriers in the city.

The unrest was the worst in the small South American country in more than a decade and the latest flashpoint of opposition to the International Monetary Fund in Latin America. Moreno has cast the dispute as a battle between Venezuela and other left-leaning forces and more market-friendly ideologies.

Nearly 60 roads in the city were closed, the municipal government said, without elaborating.

“Blocking roads is punishable by law and even more so during a curfew,” said councilman Bernardo Abad.

Indigenous protesters vowed to continue protests across the country until Moreno reinstates fuel subsidies, a sign that a potential breakthrough in the dispute announced on Saturday might fade under the government crackdown.

The first round of talks between indigenous leaders and the government was set to begin at 3 p.m. (2000 GMT) in Quito, although no announcement had been made yet on who would take part or where exactly it would be held.

Moreno signed a $4.2 billion deal with the IMF earlier this year, angering many of his former supporters who voted for him as the left-leaning successor of his former ally, Rafael Correa.

Moreno has defended his decision last week to slash fuel subsidies as a key part of his bid to clean up the country’s finances, and denies it was required by the IMF.

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Algerians protest against proposed energy law

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Hundreds of Algerians protested in front of parliament on Sunday against proposed changes to the energy law that they say the caretaker government has no right to pass.

The draft law was agreed by the cabinet on Sunday, interim president Abdelkader Bensalah was quoted by state media as saying. It must still be approved by parliament.

Protesters said the law was draw up by the caretaker government to secure support of Western countries in a standoff over mass protests that have rocked Algeria for months. The government did not immediately comment.

“The draft will allow us to start deep reforms in the energy sector and implement a development plan for Sonatrach,” Bensalah said, referring to Algeria’s national energy company.

The law is aimed at attracting foreign investors to help Algeria strengthen its energy output and improve revenues using their superior technology, but would maintain a 49% limit on foreign ownership if passed into law by parliament.

Sonatrach has met several major international oil companies in recent months, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron.

“The current tax system does not allow Sonatrach to make new discoveries,” Mustapha Hanifi, the hydrocarbons director at the energy ministry, said at a conference on Sunday.

“We need to discover more oil and gas to ensure the country’s energy security and its revenues,” he added.

Algeria’s economy and state revenues are highly dependent on the energy sector, and foreign currency reserves have more than halved since oil prices began to drop in 2014.

The weekly mass protests since February have toppled veteran leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika and forced the authorities to detain many senior officials on corruption charges.

The army, which has emerged as the strongest power in Algeria since Bouteflika stepped down in April, hopes a presidential election panned for Dec. 12 will help quell the protests.

But demonstrators have said the vote cannot be free or fair if the military and senior officials tied to Bouteflika retain political power.

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