Prince George made his first appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony this afternoon as he joined members of the Royal Family to watch the traditional RAF fly past marking The Queen’s Official Birthday, carried in Prince William’s arms.
Earlier in the morning, The Queen led the Royal Family as they attended the traditional Trooping the Colour on Horse Guards Parade, where over 1,000 members of the Household Division presented their own age-old tribute to Her Majesty on her official birthday. This year, being the Welsh Guards who also celebrate their centenary.
Royals set off for Horse Guards in a series of carriages at around 10.45, followed shortly after by the Sovereign’s procession, with The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, and accompanied by the Household Cavalry.
The parade itself began at exactly 11am, with the national anthem played by the Massed Bands.
This year, the parade was slightly augmented to allow the national anthem to be played before the carriage stopped at the saluting dais, meaning The Queen didn’t have to get out of the carriage, and then back in a minute later to inspect the line, a change organised to accommodate for The Queen’s ever-advancing age.
Following Her Majesty’s inspection of the line, the Massed Bands begun the traditional ensemble of military favourites of the parade, starting with Prince Charles’s favourite Les Huguenots and then on to this year’s quick march Cannatex.
The Escort for the Colour – this year with one Lieutenant Ed Clark as ensign – then stepped off to the tune of British Grenadiers to collect the colour to be trooped.
Having been slow marched through the five other guards assembled on Horse Guards, the household troops reformed to perform a slow and quick march past Her Majesty, again led by the Welsh Guards with The Queen’s colour at the helm.
Her Majesty was once again joined by the Duke of Kent (along with the Duke of Edinburgh) on the saluting dais, who has given up riding on parade since suffering a stroke a few years ago. Prince William, Prince Charles and Princess Anne all rode on parade this year, while the Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Cambridge and other members of the Royal Family travelled by carriage and watched the parade from the Duke of Wellington’s old office, overlooking the parade ground, in the Horse Guards building.
This year, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester rode in the carriage procession, while Princess Alexandra forwent her place this year.
While the weather held off right until the end of the balcony appearance this year, the threatening weather forced the traditional fly past from the RAF to be cut back, with just the Red Arrows filling the sky with their red, white and blue smoke trails.
The Queen’s official birthday was also marked by gun salutes from Green Park shortly after the parade, as the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery led the 41-gun salute, following their appearance at the Troop.
Prince George’s first appearance on the balcony meant that four generations of present and future Monarch were present on the balcony: The Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George. The Prince had watched the start of the parade from a window at Buckingham Palace as his parents travelled to Horse Guards.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex meanwhile were also absent from this year’s parade, currently in Sweden for the Royal Wedding about to take place there of Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist. Prince Edward is colonel of the London Regiment, usually riding with the Countess in carriage to Horse Guards.
Yesterday, to mark The Queen’s official birthday, the annual list of birthday honours was released (click here for full report).
Today was also the last day of Garrison Sergeant Major WO1 Billy Mott, who has served in the post for the last 13 years, organising London’s biggest and best royal parades from the ground. He’s succeeded by WO1 Andrew ‘Vern’ Stokes whose first duty will be at the Garter day service at Windsor on Monday!
photo credits: Crown Copyright 2015, SAC Lee Matthews