The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations are underway as the UK and Commonwealth gear up for several days of celebrations honouring Queen Elizabeth II’s milestone 70 years on the throne.
Formal celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee four day holiday weekend began with Trooping the Colour, an annual military parade that has marked the sovereign’s official birthday since 1760.
The 96-year-old queen is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and is the first to reach the milestone of seven decades on the throne.
Despite mobility issues, she joined the working members of her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of the event, when 70 RAF jets fly overhead.
Prince Harry and Meghan watched the parade, although they did not appear on the balcony.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who now live in the US, had a prime view from the Duke of Wellington’s former office, overlooking Horse Guards Parade, where they watched Prince Charles inspect the guardsmen and officers and take their salute in his mother’s place.
They travelled with their children Archie, 3, and Lilibet, who turns 1 on Saturday where she will be introduced to her royal relatives for the first time in a public family reunion.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall rode in a carriage with Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and her three children Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4, waved for cheering crowds as they squinted into the sun.
The children, all dressed in blue with little Louis in a sailor suit, were captured in the carriage procession down The Mall on their way to Horse Guards Parade.
They were followed by the Earl and Countess of Wessex, their son James and Viscount Severn with Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence in the third carriage.
Prince Charles, Prince William and Princess Anne rode on horses during the traditional procession which left Buckingham Palace ahead of the parade at the start of festivities.
The Queen’s son Prince Andrew, who had his royal titles removed after a US lawsuit, was not present.
In early celebrations on Thursday morning, the Queen appeared on the palace balcony wearing a muted lilac outfit alongside cousin Duke of Kent to inspect parading troops.
Each year a different unit has the honour of trooping its colour. The 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards will have the spotlight during the Platinum Jubilee.
The jubilee is giving many people a chance to reflect on the state of the nation and the huge changes that have taken place during her power.
Thousands of people, some of who even camped out on Wednesday night, lined the parade route adorned in the colours of the Union Jack flag.
The name of the long weekend’s first event, Trooping the Colour, refers to a regimental flag, or “colour,” that is trooped through the ranks.
Former UK Prime Minister John Major, one of the 14 prime ministers of the queen’s reign, said the monarch’s stoic presence had helped steer the country over the decades.
“The queen has represented our better selves for over 70 years,” he told the BBC.
Congratulations arrived from world leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron called Elizabeth “the golden thread that binds our two countries” and one of “very few constants” on the international stage.
“You are our friend, such a close ally, our example of service to others,“ Macron told the queen in an English-language video message.