Her Majesty approves! Queen Elizabeth II kicked off the start of her Platinum Jubilee celebration with the annual Trooping the Colour Parade ceremony — and it was only the beginning.
The 96-year-old monarch was all smiles as she watched the festivities on Thursday, June 2, alongside some of her loved ones in honor of her 70 years on the British throne.
Prince Charles, who is next in line for the crown, joined his mother on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to take in the grander of the day. His wife, Duchess Camilla, was right beside him, wearing a blue-hued ensemble, similar to that of the queen.
Prince William and his wife, Duchess Kate, were also on hand as were their three children: Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4. (Louis, who wore his dad’s childhood sailor suit, caught fans’ attention with his silly faces and dramatic reaction to the planes overhead.)
The traditional march, which happens every June to toast the queen’s birthday, is doubly special this year as it marks the beginning of a four-day bank holiday for Her Majesty’s service milestone.
Elizabeth is the longest-reigning ruler in British history, having taken over the duty in 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI, in February of that year.
The people of the United Kingdom, the Realms and the Commonwealth will celebrate the queen through Sunday, June 5 — with many of her family members joining her for the multi-day event schedule.
The palace previously confirmed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would not be on the balcony during Thursday’s event, which featured a gun salute and military flyover. A palace spokesperson announced in a statement last month that “after careful consideration,” Elizabeth opted to limit the balcony guests to “those members of the Royal Family who are currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of the Queen.”
The couple, however, are in town to pay tribute to Harry’s grandmother. “Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are excited and honored to attend The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this June with their children,” a spokesperson for Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, told Us Weekly in May. (The pair were spotted on Thursday taking in the parade from the Major General’s Office.)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who tied the knot in May 2018, have yet to introduce the queen and the rest of Harry’s family to their youngest child, daughter Lili, whom they welcomed in June 2021. The pair, who moved to the U.S. in 2020 after stepping back from their senior royal duties, also share 3-year-old son Archie.
The queen’s second oldest son, Prince Andrew, was also missing from the kickoff event on Thursday. The 62-year-old royal has stayed somewhat out of the public eye since he was accused in October 2019 of assaulting Virginia Roberts Giuffre, which he has continued to deny.
Andrew was stripped of his military affiliations and royal patronages in January, one month before he reached a settlement outside of court with his alleged victim. In March, the Duke of York made a rare public appearance, accompanying his mother at a memorial service for his late father, Prince Philip.
It was later confirmed that Andrew, who was planning to attend the Friday, June 3, Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, would skip the event after testing positive for COVID-19. Buckingham Palace confirmed in a statement to Us on Thursday that Elizabeth also pulled out of the service after experiencing “some discomfort” during her birthday parade.
The Sussexes made their first public appearance at the Jubilee at the Service of Thanksgiving — and held hands! William and Kate and Charles and Camilla also made fashionable arrivals at the ceremony.
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Scroll down to see some of the highlights from the four-day Platinum Jubilee celebration: