A family affair. Queen Elizabeth II kicked off her Platinum Jubilee with a showstopping appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony during Trooping the Colour on Thursday, June 2.
The monarch, 96, was joined by Prince Charles and his wife, Duchess Camilla. Prince William and Duchess Kate were also in attendance with their kids, Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 7 and Prince Louis, 4. The royal family was in high spirits as they waved to the crowd.
Trooping the Colour is an annual parade that commemorates the British sovereign’s birthday, but this year it doubles as a celebration of Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne. She is the first British ruler to ever celebrate a Platinum Jubilee and is already the country’s longest-serving monarch, having surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria in 2015.
Last month, royal expert Nick Bullen predicted during an interview with Us Weekly that Trooping the Colour could be a “very poignant moment” for the family — and the U.K. — given the queen’s age.
When she appeared at the Windsor Horse Show’s “A Gallop Through History” event in May, Bullen recalled that there was “spontaneous applause” for the matriarch. “People were so thrilled to see her,” the True Royalty TV cofounder exclusively told Us. “When she left, there were literally people sobbing around me. There was almost not a dry eye in the house because I think a lot of people were feeling that this might be the last moment they see the queen in person.”
Though Prince Harry and Meghan Markle returned to the U.K. for the Jubilee, they did not stand on the balcony with their relatives. Last month, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson confirmed that only working members of the royal family would join the queen on the balcony for the historic moment.
“After careful consideration, the Queen has decided that this year’s traditional Trooping the Colour balcony appearance on Thursday 2nd of June will be limited to Her Majesty and those members of the Royal Family who are currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of the Queen,” the rep said in a statement at the time.
The BetterUp CIO, 37, and the Suits alum, 40, made their last appearance as senior royals in March 2020. During Trooping the Colour, they were spotted in the Major General’s Office at Buckingham Palace. After arriving at the event, the pair were later seen talking with the Queen’s cousin Prince Edward.
Meghan also had a fun time with the queen’s great granddaughters Savannah, 11, Isla, 10, Mia, 8 and Lena, 3, as they were photographed laughing while watching the parade proceedings.
The couple’s visit for the Jubilee marks their first joint public appearance in the U.K. since they stepped back from their royal duties. The Duke of Sussex returned in April 2021 for Prince Philip‘s funeral and in July 2021 for the Princess Diana statue unveiling, but Meghan stayed behind in California both times.
Earlier this year, the duo visited the queen while on their way to the Netherlands for the Invictus Games, but no photographs of the April trip were publicly released. “It was great to see her,” the former military helicopter pilot later told the BBC.
For the Jubilee, the Sussexes also brought along their children Archie, 3, and Lili, 11 months. It was the first time that the entire family traveled to the U.K. together since Lili’s birth in June 2021.
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Keep scrolling for more photos of the royal family at Trooping the Colour.