Queen Elizabeth's Trooping the Colour Companion: Why the Queen Chose the Duke of Kent

Two months after Prince Philip's death, Queen Elizabeth was joined by her cousin at Windsor Castle to take in her annual belated birthday parade

Trooping the Colour
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.

For the second year in a row, Trooping the Colour was a smaller-scale affair compared to years past — and that included a pared back showing by the royal family.

Rather than being surrounded by a coterie of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Queen Elizabeth only had one companion by her side at this year's belated birthday celebration.

The monarch, 95, was joined by her cousin Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, at this year's parade. Still scaled-down out of an abundance of caution amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it nonetheless represented an incremental return to grand Trooping the Colour festivities usually put on by the palace — not to mention, a step forward as they plan the spectacular Platinum Jubilee in 2022 in celebration of the record-breaking Queen's 70 years on the throne.

Queen Elizabeth II attends a military ceremony in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle
Queen Elizabeth. WPA Pool/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II attends a military ceremony in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle
Queen Elizabeth attends Trooping the Colour in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle to mark her official birthday on June 12, 2021. Chris Jackson/Getty Images
The Queen Arrives At The Trooping Of The Colour 2021
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. SplashNews.com

On Saturday, the Queen and the Duke of Kent were greeted in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle. With the playing of the national anthem and a 41-gun royal salute from Windsor Castle's East Lawn, the parade commenced.

The parade was held by the Household Division, led by the Foot Guards and joined by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. Music was played by a Massed Band of the Household Division, including 1st Battalion Scots Guards Pipes and Drums.

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Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

It was no surprise the Queen looked to family, if only a single member, to provide companionship — this marked her first Trooping the Colour since the April 9 death of Prince Philip, who retired from royal duties in 2017 and skipped the public birthday festivities in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

"She has an enormous amount of family support for her and will also take comfort from the enormity of the support from all over the world," Charles Anson, former press secretary to the Queen, told PEOPLE.

Still, this year's parade was a mere two days after what would have been the Duke of Edinburgh's 100th birthday, a day sources told PEOPLE was spent in private remembrance by the Queen.

But by Saturday, she returned to form, with Trooping the Colour serving as just one event among many to come in her increasing slate of public, in-person engagements.

"She understands that she has a job to do," someone in her circle shared with the summer issue of PEOPLE Royals regarding the Queen's state of mind, "and [Philip] would have wanted her to crack on."

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