Trooping the Colour: Scaled back celebration for Queen's official birthday

  • By Doug Faulkner
  • BBC News
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The Queen tapped her foot as her birthday parade took place in the grounds of Windsor Castle

The Queen's official birthday has been marked with a scaled back celebration for a second year due to Covid.

This year's Trooping the Colour saw a reduced parade in the grounds of Windsor Castle, rather than in central London, led by the Scots Guards.

In 2020 the event was cancelled due to the pandemic with a ceremonial tribute performed at Windsor by Welsh Guardsman and a band of the Household Division.

It comes ahead of the Queen hosting US President Joe Biden on Sunday.

The monarch's actual birthday is on 21 April but her official birthday is marked on the second Saturday of June each year.

It is traditionally celebrated with a military parade near Buckingham Palace in which the Household Division marches carrying a regimental flag, known as a colour.

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The Red Arrows also performed a fly past to end the celebrations

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The event at Windsor Castle replaces the ceremony normally staged in central London

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The Guardsmen showed their precision marching skills while maintaining a social distance of just over two metres

The Duke of Kent - the Queen's cousin - was also present for the ceremony, which saw the F Company Scots Guards troop the colour of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards through the ranks of guardsmen on parade.

The celebration was smaller than normal and has been dubbed a "mini" Trooping the Colour.

But the military officer in charge of planning the parade said his aim was to create a "memorable and uplifting day" for the monarch, who has been based at Windsor during the pandemic.

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The birthday parade is a gift from the Household Division - the Army's most prestigious regiments

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Members of the public gathered in Windsor and saw the Red Arrows flypast overhead

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Crowds lined the Long Walk to watch the Household Cavalry leave

Lt Col Guy Stone said: "Last year we had 85 on parade, this year we've got 274, plus 70 horses, so we're really excited about the event having grown and getting us back to normal for next year we hope.

"It's been very challenging, but we like a challenge. Covid has got a lot to answer for in so many ways, it's made this difficult but what we want to do more than anything is give the Queen a memorable and uplifting day."

Foot tapping along to the music, the Queen took a break from meeting presidents and prime ministers during the G7 summit to attend her birthday parade.

It was a scaled down Trooping the Colour - in the grounds of Windsor Castle rather than in central London.

The soldiers once again had to carry out their manoeuvres in a socially distanced way but, unlike last year, the mounted regiments were there and gun salutes were fired.

Any public hoping to catch a glimpse had been asked to stay away from Windsor town centre - but some of the weekend shoppers, cyclists and tourists did stop outside the castle walls. They were treated to a perfect view of the Red Arrows flying overhead as the parade came to an end.

It has been a difficult few months for the Queen. A number of those taking part in Trooping the Colour were also involved in the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh held here in April.

On Monday, the Queen will be joined by US President Biden and the first lady for tea. At 95-years-old, the Queen appears to be enjoying a particularly busy weekend.

Lt Col Stone, who serves with the Welsh Guards, is Brigade Major Household Division and was also in overall charge of the military arrangements for the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral.

It was the Queen's first official birthday without her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died at the age of 99 in April.

The event ended with a 41 gun salute and a flypast by the Red Arrows.

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This year's Trooping the Colour was on a smaller scale than normal, as shown in 2019's parade

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What is Trooping the Colour?

Official celebrations of a sovereign's birthday have often been held on a day other than their actual birth date, particularly when the actual birthday has not been in the summer, so that there is better weather for a parade.

Meanwhile, heroes of the pandemic have been among those to be recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours, with vaccine developer Prof Sarah Gilbert and former chair of the vaccine taskforce Kate Bingham among those to be recognised.

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On Friday the Queen and other members of the Royal Family were in Cornwall as part of the G7 summit of world leaders.

The monarch joined the politicians for a dinner at the Eden Project.