Birthdays, not Brexit, keeping the Queen busy

Martin McGuinness and the Queen (AAP)
Martin McGuinness and the Queen (AAP)

She might be 90 years old, but the Queen is well aware it's been a tumultuous week for her country.

Days after the seismic Brexit vote, she met with Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in Belfast, as part of a two-day royal visit to the Emerald Isle.

It's her first official engagement since British voters said they want to leave the European Union (EU), 52 percent to 48.

It is unclear whether the issue came up during the meeting, but there has been talk since last week that Northern Ireland -- whose residents voted to stay -- could break away from the UK and rejoin Ireland, which remains a member of the EU.

The pair deliberately avoided broaching the topic in front of the media.

Mr McGuinness broke the ice, asking if she was well.

"Thank you very much. I'm still alive. Quite busy," the monarch responded, and in perhaps the understatement of the year told him: "There's been quite a lot going on."

"There's a lot of things happening at the moment," agreed Mr McGuinness.

After a brief and perhaps slightly awkward pause, the Queen clarified what's been occupying her mind of late.

"I've had two birthdays, so I've been quite busy."

"Absolutely," replied Mr McGuinness, avoiding the Brexit-shaped elephant in the room.

The Queen turned 90 on April 21, but also celebrated becoming a nonagenarian in June, on her official birthday.