Queen Elizabeth II looked radiant as she appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the Trooping the Colour parade, which marked the opening of the Monarch's Platinum Jubilee, with celebrations scheduled to span through June 5.
Although Jubilees are not uncommon in British history, this year's Platinum means the longest-reigning sovereign has spent 70 years on the throne, something no other British monarch had ever before achieved.
The Queen, aged 96, looked in good shape despite the occasional need to lean on a cane, which she has been doing for some months now due to mobility issues. She first appeared alone on the balcony and members of the royal family soon joined her. First to stand next to her where the late Duke of Edinburgh used to be was the Duke of Kent, Her Majesty's elder cousin, with whom the Queen inspected the troops deployed in the inner courtyard of the Palace after the parade.
Then came Prince Charles of Wales, the heir to the throne, and then other working members of the family waved at the crowds: Future Queen Consort Duchess Camilla of Cornuailles; Prince William and Duchess Kate and their three children; Princess Anne and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence; and the queen's youngest son, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, his wife Countess Sophie and their two teenage children, James, Viscount Severn, and Lady Louise Windsor. Also on the balcony were the queen's cousins, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra.
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, 86, is the queen's cousin. Since the death of Prince Philip last year, the duke is the senior male royal of the queen's generation and has occasionally stood in for the monarch at official events.
The parade was presided over on horseback for the first time by Charles, with his firstborn son William and Princess Anna, Elizabeth's second daughter, flanking him. It was the first time in Elizabeth's reign that the Queen did not personally preside over the parade. The last time such an occurrence took place was in 1951, when Elizabeth, still a princess, replace her ailing father, King George VI, who was too ill to rid.
Prince Charles, in his role as Colonel of the Welsh Guards, Prince William in his role as Colonel of the Irish Guards, and Princess Anne in her role as Colonel of the Blues rode shiny black horses along The Mall during the Trooping the Colour ceremony which featured some 1500 soldiers, 240 horses and 400 musicians from Buckingham Palace and down The Mall to Horse Guard’s Parade, alongside royals on horseback and in carriages. The Queen, who used to attend on horseback herself, watched from the palace.
As the royal family took to the balcony the royal standard was replaced by the Union Jack confirming the presence of the sovereign.
The 260-old Trooping the Colour tradition usually closes public celebrations for the royal birthday, on a date other than the actual date.
The celebration began at 10 am Thursday. Crowds poured in to honor a monarch who has endured a year and a half of grievances, during which she lost her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip. In addition to catching COVID-19 at her age, she has also been facing increasing physical frailty, relying more and more on her eldest son to preside over official engagements.
“Thank you to everyone who has been involved in convening communities, families, neighbors and friends to mark my Platinum Jubilee, in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth,” the Queen said in a statement.
“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last 70 years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.”
Having flown in from the United States, Prince Harry of Sussex and his wife Meghan were said to have watched from a window as non-working members of the royal family.
Prince Andrew did not attend the day’s festivities. It was later announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
The military parade, which officially opened the celebrations, concluded with the Queen, alongside the next three kings – Charles, William and his son George watching the RAF's Red Arrows fly by.