Military parade marks Queen’s official birthday

Queen Elizabeth II during a ceremony at Windsor Castle in Berkshire to mark her official birthday.
Queen Elizabeth II during a ceremony at Windsor Castle in Berkshire to mark her official birthday.

Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone, who planned the Queen’s official birthday celebrations, said he wanted to create a “memorable and uplifting day” for the monarch

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The Queen has received her official birthday gift from the nation’s armed forces – a ceremony of pomp and pageantry in her honour.

Windsor Castle was the setting for the spectacle dubbed a mini Trooping the Colour, featuring soldiers who have supported communities and the NHS during the pandemic or served overseas on military operations.

Queen Elizabeth II during a ceremony at Windsor Castle in Berkshire to mark her official birthday.
Queen Elizabeth II during a ceremony at Windsor Castle in Berkshire to mark her official birthday.

The birthday parade is a gift from the Household Division – the Army’s most prestigious regiments – which has a close affinity with the monarch and is keen to show its loyalty to the Crown.

The traditional Trooping the Colour ceremony, which is normally staged in London and features hundreds of servicemen and women and thousands of spectators, was ruled out for the second successive year because of the threat of coronavirus.

After a year which has seen the Queen mourn the loss of her beloved husband the Duke of Edinburgh and experience family upheavals following accusations made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the ceremony was a positive event.

Lt Col Stone, Brigade Major Household Division, who was also in overall charge of the military arrangements for Philip’s funeral, said: “It is the highlight of the year and a poignant way for the Household Division to thank Her Majesty for all that she does for the nation, particularly through this challenging time.”

The Queen’s cousin the Duke of Kent joined her on the platform in his role as Colonel of the Scots Guards.

On parade in front of the Queen in bright summer sunshine was an array of socially distanced Guardsmen, mounted Troopers and the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

Guardsman stand in formation as they take part in a ceremony at Windsor Castle in Berkshire to mark the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.
Guardsman stand in formation as they take part in a ceremony at Windsor Castle in Berkshire to mark the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

They were joined by a massed band of the Household Division – musicians from all of the five Foot Guards Bands and the 1st Battalion Scots Guards Pipes and Drums.

The servicemen and women on parade numbered almost 275, with 70 horses, compared with the 85 soldiers who took part in the ceremony last summer.

The Queen was also treated to the sight of a Red Arrows flypast as the ceremony drew to a close and nine jets roared above the town of Windsor trailing red, white and blue smoke.

She was seen pointing up at the aerial display as the planes spend overhead in a few seconds.

The Red Arrows fly over Windsor Castle in Berkshire during the ceremony to mark the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Red Arrows fly over Windsor Castle in Berkshire during the ceremony to mark the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

The assembled military units marched off the quadrangle as music was played and the Queen, who wore a matching coat and hat by Angela Kelly with the aquamarine bar brooch, waited until the sound of the pipes were fading before she left her seat.

Later the King’s Troop fired a 41-gun royal salute from Castle’s East Lawn, using three of their First World War era guns, to mark the Queen’s official birthday.