The annual public celebration of Queen Elizabeth's birthday usually sees the royal family gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

By Stephanie Petit
June 12, 2021 08:13 AM
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Princess Charlotte
Prince Louis, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George and Princess Charlotte
| Credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage

For the second year, Trooping the Colour is missing some familiar faces.

While the annual public celebration of Queen Elizabeth's birthday usually sees the extended royal family gather on the iconic balcony of Buckingham Palace, this year's festivities at Windsor Castle only hosted two royals: the Queen and her cousin, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.

The palace announced in March that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Trooping the Colour 2021 would again be scaled down.

"Following consultation with Government and other relevant parties it has been agreed that The Queen's Official Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, will not go ahead this year in its traditional form in central London," they said.

Currently in the U.K., outdoor gatherings are limited to 30 people and indoor gatherings are limited to six people or two households.

Prince Louis, Prince George, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Savannah Phillips, Isla Phillips and Autumn Phillips
Trooping The Colour 2019
| Credit: James Devaney/Getty Images
Trooping the Colour
Kate Middleton, Prince William, Princess Charlotte, Savannah Phillips and Prince George at Trooping the Colour 2018
| Credit: Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images

Kate Middleton and Prince William last appeared for Trooping the Colour in 2019 along with their three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis (in his first-ever Buckingham balcony appearance!).

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While some members of the royal family - including Prince William and Prince Charles - ride horses in the parade wearing full military regalia, including large bearskin hats, others take part in the parade via carriages. It's possible that Prince George and Princess Charlotte are now old enough to join the procession - Prince William made his carriage debut in 1987, just weeks ahead of his fifth birthday!

In 2020, the army staged a smaller-scale parade and celebration at Windsor Castle with just the Queen in attendance. 

Queen Elizabeth II attends Trooping The Colour
The Queen watches last year's parade
| Credit: Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage
Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images

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Although the Queen's 95th birthday was on April 21, Trooping the Colour always takes place in the early summer of the second weekend in June. The reason is a practical matter more than anything: the weather is nicer!

The tradition is believed to have started during the reign of King George II in 1748. George II was born in October, but the annual Trooping of the Colour became a celebration of the monarch as well as the armed forces.