The Queen

Military parade celebrates Queen's official birthday

Personnel from the Army’s Household Division, The Royal Horse Artillery and the RAF's Red Arrows have marked the Queen's official birthday by Trooping the Colour at Windsor Castle. 

The parade, which has been scaled back for a second year due to coronavirus, took place to mark Her Majesty's 95th birthday. 

Dubbed a mini Trooping the Colour, it featured soldiers who have supported communities and the NHS during the pandemic or served overseas on military operations.

The birthday parade is a gift from the Household Division, which has a close affinity with the monarch.

The traditional Trooping the Colour ceremony is normally staged in central London and features hundreds of servicemen and women and thousands of spectators.

Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone, who planned the Queen's official birthday celebrations in Windsor Castle's Quadrangle, said he wanted to create a "memorable and uplifting day" after a year which has seen the Queen mourn the loss of her beloved husband the Duke of Edinburgh.

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 dais in his role as Colonel of the Scots Guards.

The Colour, or ceremonial flag, being trooped past the soldiers was the Colour of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards with the regiment's F Company given the task of performing the honour.

Red Arrows Fly Over Guardsmen At Windsor Castle Queen Elizabeth Birthday 120621 CREDIT PA Images Alamy Stock Photo
The Red Arrows fly over as Guardsmen stand in formation during the ceremony to mark the official birthday of the Queen at Windsor Castle (Picture: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo).

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

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.

A rare sight on the parade ground were two officers who were father and son.

Colonel Jeremy Bagshaw, Chief of Staff at Army Headquarters London District, was stood close to the Queen's dais while his 18-year-old son, 2nd Lieutenant Henry Bagshaw, Coldstream Guards, was formed up in front of the monarch.

A small handful of seated guests lined part of the quadrangle – a change from last year when only the military were present.

The playing of the national anthem as a royal salute was given by soldiers signalled the start of the ceremony and the Massed Bands marched past first in slow then quick time.

They performed the feathering technique, named as it resembles the Prince of Wales's feathers when seen from above, and used to allow the marching musicians to turn 180 degrees and maintain individual distances.

A lone drummer played the Drummer's Call that signalled the group of soldiers and officers known as the Escort for the Colour to get into position.

Lieutenant Hugh Dingwall was given the honour of carrying the Colour which has deep symbolic significance and it was trooped through the ranks.

During the birthday parade, Guardsmen from three regiments – Scots, Grenadier and Coldstream Guards – marched past the Queen, who stood to acknowledge them.

A few minutes later the gravel path around the castle's Quadrangle was kicked up by the hooves of dozens of horses ridden by the Captain's Escort – two divisions from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment – and the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery who paraded past the monarch.

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.

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.

British Army Regular and Reserve soldiers have marked the Queen's Official Birthday with ceremonial gun salutes in London.