It was a family affair for the Royal Family today, as the nation celebrated The Queen’s official birthday with Trooping the Colour.
At 10.45am Her Majesty and Prince Philip lead the nation in a minute’s silence for the victims of the recent Grenfell Tower fire, after the Monarch released an unusual birthday message recognising the numerous tragedies that have befallen Britain in recent weeks.
Then, carriages carrying senior members of the Royal Family left Buckingham Palace for Horse Guards, cheering and waving to the public gathered on the Mall.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry left in the first carriage, followed by The Duke of York, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie and The Earl of Wessex. Neither the Countess, Lady Louise or James were in attendance, for unknown reasons; Sophie is not scheduled to have any engagements.
Next came The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and The Duke of Kent, heading to the parade ground where they watched the show from the Major General’s office. Joining them was Peter and Autumn Phillips with their daughters, Savannah and Isla, plus Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, amongst others.
Finally, Her Majesty arrived just as the clock struck 11, receiving the royal salute.
Prince Charles, Prince William and Princess Anne ride directly behind The Queen as Colonel’s of the Welsh Guards, Irish Guards and the Blues and Royals respectively.
The procession was accompanied by a Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry; this year it was the turn of the Life Guards to lead the Blues and Royals.
It was the turn of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards to troop their colour (flag) today. Much of the music played by the massed and mounted had an Irish theme or connection, such as Messines Bridge, significant in that 2017 is the centenary year of the WWI battle.
The ceremony lasted just over an hour, with Her Majesty seen tapping her foot along to the beat – a sure sign she was enjoying herself.
Interestingly, this was the first year The Duke of Edinburgh and The Duke of Kent didn’t wear their guards uniforms, as colonels of the Grenadier and Scots Guards respectively. Philip announced his ‘retirement’ last month.
Bearskin hats weigh 1.5lbs (approx 600g) and the tunics are very warm in this summer weather; five guards fainted on parade.
It was then back to the palace for the RAF fly past, after the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a 41-gun salute in Green Park to mark The Queen’s official birthday.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte were there to see the planes, along with the extended Royal Family. This included an appearance from The Duchess of Kent, who is rarely seen in public now.
George initially seemed nonplussed by the event, resting his chin in his hands. But as the flypast began, he appeared transfixed, bouncing on his toes as he waited for the next plane to arrive. He and Charlotte enthusiastically waved to the crowds alongside their cousins, Savannah and Isla Phillips.
Trooping is a highlight in the family’s calendar, but this year’s was tainted with grief following the tragedies and attacks of recent weeks. A minute’s silence was held before The Queen left the palace for the event, following an unusual statement from Her Majesty this morning.
The family then returned inside for a luncheon.