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Queen leads the annual Trooping The Colour ceremony

June 13, 2008
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Under bright, spring skies, London celebrated the Queen's official birthday in a blaze of colour with a parade full of pomp and pageantry.

Joined by her family, the 82-year-old British monarch had pride of place in the annual procession. With the Duke of Edinburgh by her side, Queen Elizabeth rode in an ivory carriage, dating back to 1842, from Buckingham Palace and along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade.

While Prince Phillip was dressed in uniform, wearing a towering bearskin hat, the Queen looked very springlike in a blue coat with matching hat, a tartan blanket covering her legs.

The procession was accompanied by the Household Cavalry, made up of Life Guards and Blues and Royals, looking resplendent in their silver and gold breastplates and plumed helmets.

Travelling on horseback were the Prince of Wales, Colonel of the Welsh Guards, whose colours were being "trooped" this year, along with the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent.

Of especially delight to the thousands of onlookers was the sight of the Queen's grandsons, Prince William and Prince Harry, looking handsome in their Blues and Royals uniform. They travelled in the second carriage with their stepmother, the Duchess of Cornwall.

Once at House Guards, the royal matriarch took the salute as more than 1,100 troops carried out the annual Trooping The Colour, an event which dates back to the reign of Charles II. The royal family then headed back to Buckingham Palace to gather on the balcony, where they watched the annual flypast.

Taking part in this year's spectacular display of 55 aircraft were planes ranging from a 68-year-old Spitfire to the RAF's latest model, the Typhoon.

The Queen's actual birthday is on April 21. The tradition of having two birthdays was created for practical reasons, allowing British monarchs born in winter to have a parade in good weather.

And it seems that it is not only the tourists and crowds who enjoy the spectacle. Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Prince Charles revealed to the BBC how much he enjoyed the event.

"It's splendidly British and I hope it will go on for as long as possible," he said.

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Photo: ©
The Queen greets the thousands of spectators who'd turned out to celebrate her offical birthday Photo: © Getty Images y
Photo: ©
Heads upturned, the royal family watch a spectacular display from the RAF Photo: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
Wearing a stunning feathery fascinator, the Duchess of Cornwall rides in the second carriage alongside her stepson Prince William Photo: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
Cutting dashing figures in their Blues and Royals uniforms, Princes William and Harry share a joke on the balcony Photo: © Rex

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