Queen celebrates official birthday with scaled back Trooping the Colour

·Royal Correspondent
·6-min read
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JUNE 12: Queen Elizabeth II attends a military ceremony in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle to mark her Official Birthday on June 12, 2021 in Windsor, England. Trooping of the Colour has marked the Official Birthday of the Sovereign for over 260 years and it has been agreed once again that in line with government advice The Queen’s Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, will not go ahead in its traditional form. This years parade is formed by soldiers who have played an integral role in the NHS’ COVID-19 response, as well as those who have been serving on military operations overseas. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
The Queen looked thrilled by the smaller version of the Trooping the Colour parade. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The Queen tapped her foot along with the music as she watched a scaled back version of Trooping the Colour for her official birthday, for the second year in a row because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Queen was joined by the Duke of Kent at Windsor Castle for the annual celebration, the second year in a row it has been unable to go ahead in its full form in London.

The duke is Colonel of the Scots Guards and it was his colour being trooped this year.

After the Queen's arrival at 11am, the national anthem was played, and the monarch looked on, dressed in a grey and yellow coat dress and matching hat by her dresser, Angela Kelly - the same outfit she wore to the State Opening of Parliament earlier this year.

The 2021 ceremony was slightly bigger than the 2020 occasion, and the Queen chose to have a guest with her this time, instead of going alone.

There were closer to 300 members of the armed forces in Saturday's Trooping, up from just 85 who put on the socially distanced spectacle last year.

Members of the public were seen on the Long Walk near Windsor Castle as the Household Cavalry marched toward the Queen's home. 

Queen Elizabeth II during a ceremony at Windsor Castle in Berkshire to mark her official birthday. Picture date: Saturday June 12, 2021.
The Queen during the Trooping the Colour at Windsor. (PA Images)
Queen Elizabeth II during a ceremony at Windsor Castle in Berkshire to mark her official birthday. Picture date: Saturday June 12, 2021.
She wore a grey and yellow Angela Kelly dress with matching hat. (PA Images)
Members of the Household Cavalry make their way down the Long Walk towards Windsor Castle ahead of a ceremony to mark the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. Picture date: Saturday June 12, 2021.
Members of the Household Cavalry make their way down the Long Walk towards Windsor Castle. (PA Images)
Members of the Household Cavalry make their way down the Long Walk towards Windsor Castle ahead of a ceremony to mark the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. Picture date: Saturday June 12, 2021.
Members of the public stopped to watch the procession ahead of the Trooping the Colour. (PA Images)

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The ceremony. which the Queen looked to enjoy, tapping along with the music, was about 40 minutes and came toward its end with another playing of the anthem, before the field officer asked permission for them to march off.

The Queen nodded, at which point the troops moved back out of the Quadrangle.

She and the duke, 85, stood as the horses marched past her and looked delighted to see the nine RAF Red Arrows planes overhead in a flypast.

Normally Trooping the Colour finishes with a flypast over Buckingham Palace, which the whole Royal Family assembles to watch from the balcony.

The Queen was spotted exchanging some words passionately with her cousin, the duke, and some of the members of staff dotted around the Quadrangle.

Saturday was the 69th Trooping the Colour the Queen has enjoyed during her reign.

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WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JUNE 12: Queen Elizabeth II attends a military ceremony in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle to mark her Official Birthday on June 12, 2021 in Windsor, England. Trooping of the Colour has marked the Official Birthday of the Sovereign for over 260 years and it has been agreed once again that in line with government advice The Queen’s Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, will not go ahead in its traditional form. This years parade is formed by soldiers who have played an integral role in the NHS’ COVID-19 response, as well as those who have been serving on military operations overseas. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
The Queen watching on as the Household Division marched past after the main part of the parade. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Members of the Massed Band of the Household Division during a ceremony at Windsor Castle in Berkshire to mark her official birthday. Picture date: Saturday June 12, 2021.
Members of the Massed Band of the Household Division took part in this year's parade. (PA Images)
The Red Arrows fly over Windsor Castle to mark the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. Picture date: Saturday June 12, 2021.
The Red Arrows fly over Windsor Castle to mark the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. (PA Images)

Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone has planned the occasion over the last few months, and before the parade, said he hoped to create a memorable and uplifting day for the Queen.

He said: "It’s been extremely demanding; we’ve had to tackle COVID like everybody else, with some people needing to isolate and therefore not being able to be on parade."

Explaining there has been no daily practice because of the removal of the changing the guard at Buckingham Palace, he added: "So from a skillset perspective it’s been very difficult to achieve what I hope will be a good standard because we’re not doing the Changing of the Guard ceremony every day due to the pandemic – that applies to horses, the musicians and the Guardsmen with their foot drill and rifle drill.

"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."

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JUNE 12: Queen Elizabeth II attends a military ceremony in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle to mark her Official Birthday on June 12, 2021 in Windsor, England. Trooping of the Colour has marked the Official Birthday of the Sovereign for over 260 years and it has been agreed once again that in line with government advice The Queen’s Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, will not go ahead in its traditional form. This years parade is formed by soldiers who have played an integral role in the NHS’ COVID-19 response, as well as those who have been serving on military operations overseas. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
The Queen was able to have a guest with her this year, unlike 2020 when she was alone. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JUNE 12:  A general view as Queen Elizabeth II attends a military ceremony in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle to mark her Official Birthday on June 12, 2020 at Windsor Castle on June 12, 2021 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
It's the second year in a row the occasion has taken place at Windsor Castle. (Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Members of the Household Cavalry arrive at Windsor Castle ahead of a ceremony to mark the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. Picture date: Saturday June 12, 2021.
Members of the Household Cavalry arrive at Windsor Castle before the Trooping the Colour ceremony. (PA Images)

Read more: 'I don't think it's going to work': Queen quips as she cuts cake with sword

Lt Col Stone was also in charge of the military arrangements for Prince Philip's funeral in April.

He was made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen in recognition of his efforts.

The Queen is in the midst of a busy few days, having spent Friday in Cornwall meeting world leaders who have gathered for the G7 summit.

She put them at ease during the family photo, quipping: "Are you supposed to be looking as if you’re enjoying yourself?"

She travelled back from Cornwall overnight on the royal train to be back at Windsor in time for the Trooping parade.

On Sunday she will host Joe and Jill Biden for tea at Windsor Castle.

ST AUSTELL, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: Queen Elizabeth II (C) considers cutting a cake with a sword, lent to her by The Lord-Lieutenant of Cornwall, Edward Bolitho, to celebrate of The Big Lunch initiative at The Eden Project during the G7 Summit on June 11, 2021 in St Austell, Cornwall, England. UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, hosts leaders from the USA, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Canada at the G7 Summit. This year the UK has invited India, South Africa, and South Korea to attend the Leaders' Summit as guest countries as well as the EU. (Photo by Oli Scarff - WPA Pool / Getty Images)
The Queen carried out an engagement with the Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge in Cornwall on Friday. (Oli Scarff - WPA Pool / Getty Images)

Read more: Trooping the Colour: Why does the Queen mark two birthdays?

Trooping the Colour marks the monarch's official birthday and has been celebrated on the second Saturday in June since the 1960s.

The Queen's real birthday is in April, but she spends the day quietly. This year she was still officially in royal mourning during her birthday.

Despite being 95, the Queen has proved her commitment to the work as head of state, carrying out engagements in Cornwall and meeting with the Bidens.

She has continued with her audiences at the palace via video calls and made a steady return to in-person work as well.

She and the palace will be hoping the parade can return in its full form for next year, as it is planned to be part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Britons will enjoy an extra bank holiday in June, giving a bumper four day weekend, which will be kicked off by the Trooping the Colour in London.

Watch: Queen cuts cake - with not a knife but a ceremonial sword

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