The Queen is celebrating her birthday with a scaled back military parade at Windsor Castle, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The small ceremonial event, specially designed in just two weeks to ensure the soldiers can maintain social distancing, replaces the traditional Trooping The Colour in central London, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
It is the monarch’s first appearance at an official outside event since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
Usually thousands of people gather along the Mall and in front of Buckingham Palace to watch the pageant-filled military parade and to see members of the Royal Family as they travel in carriages, and on horseback, before appearing on the balcony together.
It is the first time the Trooping The Colour has not been staged since 1955.
This year, the public were asked to stay away, with the brief ceremony taking place inside the grounds of Windsor Castle carried out by a detachment from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, whose colour was due to be trooped this year at The Queen’s Birthday Parade on Horse Guards.
The soldiers and band of the Household Division had to learn new ceremonial drill to ensure they stayed at least two metres apart.
Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone, head of ceremonial events for the Household Division, who led the planning for the one-off event, told Sky News: “It’s not a thousand soldiers and there aren’t hundreds of horses, it’s very much smaller.
“It’s modest, it’s discreet, it’s appropriate and it’s socially distanced.
“It’s a chance for us to really make sure the Queen’s birthday is marked but also a chance for us to give gratitude for her guidance through this really difficult period.”
Trooping The Colour has marked the official birthday of the monarch for more than 260 years.
The tradition was started by King George II whose birthday was in November. Because the weather wasn’t very good at that time of year he decided to combine an official birthday parade with an annual military parade in the summer.
The Queen has been at Windsor Castle throughout the pandemic, along with her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, who celebrated his 99th birthday last Wednesday.
A new photograph of the couple was released to mark the occasion.
Until the parade, the Queen had not been seen outside at any official events since lockdown started.
However, earlier this week she took part in her first official video call, with her daughter Princess Anne, talking to carers across the country to celebrate their efforts.
She has also recorded two televised messages for the nation during the pandemic, but both were filmed under strict restrictions to protect her from the virus.
The monarch was photographed two weeks ago riding a pony in the grounds of Windsor Castle.