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New mother Meghan joins royals for Trooping the Colour

The event featured around 1,400 servicemen.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Victoria Jones/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Victoria Jones/PA)

Military pomp and pageantry was on display to celebrate the Queen’s official birthday – and new mother the Duchess of Sussex made her first public appearance since giving birth.

The Queen’s milestone was marked with the Trooping the Colour ceremony that saw some of Britain’s most prestigious regiments stage the centuries-old spectacle.

And among the royals was Meghan, attending her first official royal engagement since giving birth to son Archie just over four weeks ago.

The duchess has been on maternity leave caring for her baby born at a private London hospital on May 6, and Harry has already spoken about how parenthood has changed their lives, saying he cannot imagine life without his son.

Meghan joined Harry, the Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Cambridge in a coach that was greeted by cheers from crowds in the Mall as it made its way to Horse Guards Parade in London’s Whitehall for the Trooping ceremony.

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex make their way along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade (Gareth Fuller/PA)

In another horse-drawn carriage was Princess Eugenie and husband Jack Brooksbank, Princess Beatrice and the Duke of Kent.

The Queen arrived in a procession full of pomp and pageantry featuring a Sovereign’s Escort from the Household Cavalry, made up of Life Guards and Blues and Royals, in their silver and gold breastplates and plumed helmets.

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The Queen during Trooping the Colour (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Riding on horseback behind the Queen’s coach were the royal colonels: The Prince of Wales, Colonel of the Welsh Guards, the Princess Royal, Colonel of the Blues and Royals, and the Duke of Cambridge, Colonel of the Irish Guards and Duke of York, Colonel of the Grenadier Guards.

Trooping the Colour is social as well as a ceremonial occasion and in the stands overlooking the parade ground were the wives, girlfriends and parents of the guardsmen and officers on parade.

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Trooping the Colour at Horse Guards Parade (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The event featured around 1,400 servicemen in total and hundreds of Guardsmen were lined up on the parade ground waiting to be inspected by the Queen.

The colour, or ceremonial regimental flag, being paraded this year was from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, a frontline infantry regiment of the British Army when not performing ceremonial duties.

Their lineage can be traced back to 1656 when the military unit was raised as the sovereign’s bodyguards by King Charles II while in exile in Bruges.

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Children look out from from Buckingham Palace (Victoria Jones/PA)

Harry, Meghan, Kate and the other royals – including the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children the Viscount Severn and Lady Louise Windsor – watched events from Wellington’s office overlooking Horse Guards.

Among the guests was Theresa May who formally stepped down as Prime Minister on Friday, but will remain in office until an successor has been appointed.

Soon after the Queen arrived on the parade ground the national anthem was played and a horse could be seen running across the open space after apparently unseating its rider.

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A loose horse is rounded up (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Queen began the ceremony by inspecting the lines of guardsmen on the parade ground, casting a critical eye over the soldiers as she passed in her carriage followed by the royal colonels on horseback.

Colours, or flags, were carried, or “trooped”, down the rank so that they could be seen and recognised by the soldiers.

In the 18th century, guards from the royal palaces assembled daily on Horse Guards to “troop the colours”, and in 1748 it was announced that the parade would also mark the Sovereign’s official birthday.

The Queen’s actual birthday was on April 21 when she turned 93.

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Trooping the Colour at Horse Guards Parade (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The massed bands of the Household Division and the Mounted Band of the Household Calvary provided the musical backing for the ceremony.

While also taking part was the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, who will fire a 41-gun salute in Green Park to mark the Queen’s official birthday.

The colour was first trooped through the ranks of soldiers before the guardsmen marched past the Queen, first in slow then in quick time.

Spectators were treated to the sight of precision marching with each Guardsman having trod more than 270 miles in rehearsals and taken more than half a million steps.

PA

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