"The whole party seemed jolly," Dame Rosemary Butler tells PEOPLE

By Simon Perry
Updated June 07, 2016 12:05 PM
Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty

Wales is often called the Land of Song. So it was only fitting that Queen Elizabeth was welcomed with triumphant tunes and her son and heir’s personal harpist as she made a pre-birthday celebration in Cardiff on Tuesday.

The moment she and husband Prince Philip stepped off the royal train at the city’s station, a 21-gun salute pounded the ears of the watching school kids and royal fans in the city’s Cardiff Bay.

Accompanied by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen – who wore an aqua green silk tweed coat with a silk dress in shades of turquoise, grey and ivory by Stewart Parvin and matching hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan – was in the city to open the fifth session of the Welsh Assembly.

It is also part of her tour to the four corners of the United Kingdom in her 90th birthday year. Inside the assembly building, known as the Senedd, members led by the presiding officer clapped as they wished the Queen happy birthday wishes for the official celebrations this weekend.

Former presiding officer of the Assembly Dame Rosemary Butler spoke briefly to the Queen as she left. “She said it was nice to be back. She and the whole royal party looked lovely and healthy and happy,” Butler tells PEOPLE. “The whole party seemed jolly.”

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“She came last time and she really enjoyed it,” says Dame Rosemary, who sat with her at lunch then. “She has a delightful sense of humor. A wicked sense of humor.”

Inside the Senedd, the royals and assembly members were serenaded by songs from the National Youth Choir of Wales as well as a specially commissioned poem read by Maeve Tonkin-Wells, a student from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan said, “We had a nice chat. I’ve been to stay at Sandringham, so I think she remembered me! She said today she’s forgotten it was her fifth time here. I said, ‘Time passes, doesn’t it?’ It was lovely to see her again and the Duke of Edinburgh was looking very well.”

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In her speech, the Queen praised the Assembly’s “remarkable record of achievement over the first four terms . . . Though a relatively young parliamentary institution, you have established a reputation as a strong, accessible and forward-looking legislature, serving all the diverse communities of Wales,” she added.

Meanwhile, Charles’s personal harpist Anne Denholm played a gentle tune on the prince’s harp as the Queen signed a Commemorative Parchment.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh then headed to Cardiff University, where they were opening the new $64 million brain research imaging center.

Camilla, who wore a green lace dress with an embroidered jacket by Fiona Clare, and Charles headed off separately to a reception with the politicians of the assembly.