Meghan Markle steals Queen’s spotlight
THE entire royal family has turned out in London for a spectacular military parade to mark the 92nd birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
Tens of thousands of people lined the streets of central London as the Queen made her way in a horse-drawn carriage down The Mall for the centuries-old Trooping the Colour parade.
The Queen, dressed in a powder-blue ensemble and hat with flowers on the brim, was travelling alone, as her husband Prince Philip, who will celebrate his 97th birthday today, has retired from public life.
Huge cheers went up as newly-weds Prince Harry and his wife Meghan made their way to the historic Horse Guards parade ground on a glorious spring day.
They were joined in a three-carriage procession by Prince Charles' wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who travelled with Prince William's wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Prince Edward's wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, travelled in a third carriage with her daughter Lady Louise, and Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, the daughters of Prince Andrew.
Four royals arrived on horseback in full dress uniform in their capacity as royal colonels - Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Andrew, and Princess Anne the Princess Royal.
Queen Elizabeth, who still rides ponies at her home at Windsor Castle, rode on horseback in the parade for decades until recent years, when she moved to a carriage. She has attended the last 66 Trooping parades.
Featuring 1400 parading soldiers from the royal household divisions, 200 horses and 400 musicians, the annual Trooping the Colour parade dates back at least 260 years and is a marvellous display of British royal pomp and pageantry.
Black, grey and white horses, military guards including the Cold Stream and Irish guards in their elaborate dress uniforms and tall fur hats and two enormous drum horses bearing kettle drums and riders took part in the ceremony, which ran for two hours.
The Queen, whose actual birthday is on April 21, inspected the troops and received a royal salute, and watched displays of precision marching before she was due to make her way back to Buckingham Palace.
A daughter, wife, mother and grandmother of men who have seen active duty in the armed forces, Queen Elizabeth also served in uniform in World War II and has a deep affection for the armed forces.
The entire royal family including for the first time Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, was to gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the conclusion of the parade to watch a fly-over by the Royal Air Force.
All eyes were on newly-weds Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, made their first appearance together since apparently slipping away for their honeymoon last week.
Meghan will undertake her first official engagement with the Queen next week when she joins Her Majesty on the royal train for a visit to Cheshire, in north-west England.
The British media is reporting neither Prince Harry, nor Prince William and Catherine, have travelled on the royal train before, so the invitation from the Queen is considered a mark of her high regard for Meghan.
The royal pair will open a theatre and science discovery centre after journeying overnight from London on Wednesday.
The Queen, who has refused to retire despite her advancing years, has upped her workload even further this year, doing 25 per cent more engagements and appearances than for the same period last year, according to royal observers Write Royalty.
It comes despite her undergoing surgery in early May to have a cataract removed from her eye.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "I can confirm that the Queen successfully underwent a short planned procedure to treat a cataract last month.''
Write Royalty, analysing details from the Court Circular, the official diary of the royal family, said the queen had conducted 125 engagements from January to the end of May.
This was 25 per cent up on the same period for the previous year, when she had been unwell with a heavy cold.
The research also showed the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, continued to up his work rate, undertaking 85 engagements in the month of May alone.