Trooping the Colour: Queen celebrates official birthday with Horse Guard Parade ceremony

Thousands of spectators brave rain to watch military pageant

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The Independent Online

More than 1,000 soldiers have paraded in front of the Queen as she celebrated her official birthday at the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony.

The Queen drove down The Mall in a carriage with Prince Philip before inspecting the Household Division troops at Horse Guards Parade in central London.

The Prince of Wales, who is Colonel of the Welsh Guards, the Princess Royal, who is Colonel of the Blues and Royals, and the Duke of Cambridge, Colonel of the Irish Guards, rode on horseback for the ceremony.

Thousands of people braved drizzle to watch the spectacle, which was also attended by the Duchess of Cambridge, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry.

The colour being paraded this year was the flag of Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards.

It is the first time since 2005 that the Grenadiers have not been on operations in Afghanistan, about to deploy to the country or recently returned from Helmand Province.

After the parade, the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery were set to fire a 41-gun salute in Green Park to mark the Queen's official birthday. She turned 88 on 21 April.

There will also be an RAF flypast watched by the royal family from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

The tradition of Trooping the Colour dates back to the the 17th Century, when a regiment's colours were used as a rallying point in battle and were paraded in front of the soldiers every day to make sure they would recognise their comrades.

Additional reporting by PA