Queen arrives for military ceremony at Windsor Castle to mark birthday

A ray of sunshine! The Queen makes her first official public appearance since lockdown as she views a socially-distanced and scaled down version of Trooping the Colour at Windsor Castle to mark her official birthday

  • The Queen, 94, will view military ceremony in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle to mark her official birthday
  • Ceremony will be executed by socially distanced soldiers from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards
  • It was agreed Trooping the Colour will not go ahead in its traditional form to adhere to government guidelines

The Queen put on a stylish display as she arrived to view a socially-distancing military ceremony in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle to mark her official birthday today. 

Her Majesty, 94, cut an elegant figure in a turquoise coat and matching hat – in what is her first official royal engagement since lockdown began.  

In line with Government advice, it was agreed that the Queen’s birthday parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, would not go ahead in its traditional form.

Instead, a small, brief, military ceremony is set to take place – and will be conducted in accordance with strict social distancing guidelines.   

The Queen put on a stylish display as she arrived to view a socially-distancing military ceremony in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle to mark her official birthday today

Windsor Castle today ahead of the military ceremony which is set to take place – and will be conducted in accordance with strict social distancing guidelines

The ceremony will be carried out by a detachment from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, whose Colour was due to be trooped this year at The Queen’s Birthday Parade on Horse Guards. 

The Welsh Guards are currently stationed at Windsor Castle, and have played a key role in the military response to the coronavirus pandemic over the past months. 

The proceedings will take place in the presence of The Queen in the Quadrangle, where the Changing of the Guard is carried out when she is in official residence. 

Upon arrival, Her Majesty will receive a royal salute, which will be followed by a set of military drills, and a musical performance by a Band of the Household Division. 

These drills will include a Colour being paraded in front of the Guards. 

The Welsh Guards (pictured) are currently stationed at Windsor Castle, and have played a key role in the military response to the coronavirus pandemic over the past months

Security stand outside the gates to Windsor Castle today where the event will take place entirely within the confines of Windsor Castle, with no viewing positions for the public

The ceremony will conclude with a second royal salute, following which the Guards and Band will exit the Quadrangle and the monarch will depart. 

The event will take place entirely within the confines of Windsor Castle, with no viewing positions for the public. 

Military travel to the Castle will be private and in accordance with government advice, members of the public are asked not to attend Windsor town centre or gather in the hope of seeing any of the ceremony, which will not be visible from any external viewpoint. 

Frontline workers could be rewarded with a Buckingham Palace garden party hosted by the Queen

Britain’s frontline coronavirus workers may be rewarded for their efforts with a Buckingham Palace garden party hosted by the Queen.  

Under the proposals reportedly being considered by the Government, councils have started compiling lists of people who deserve to be recognised with an invitation to the proposed palace party. 

A Government source told the Daily Mirror: ‘There’s a firm-held belief that this would be a fitting way to celebrate those people who have sacrificed so much on the coronavirus front line, whether it be in hospitals, care homes, ­supermarkets or postal staff working tirelessly to keep our country moving.

‘It is hoped a decision would be made towards the end of the year before proposals could be finalised.’

A Palace source said ‘any Government proposal would be carefully considered’.

Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Llewelyn-Usher, the ceremony will last around 20 minutes and broadcaster Huw Edwards will host a BBC One programme covering the event live. 

Major General Ghika, who commands the Household Division and all military support for London’s civil response to coronavirus, said: ‘The circumstances of the requirement to perform the birthday tribute at Windsor Castle this year are clouded in tragedy. 

‘The effects of Covid-19 have been devastating in terms of loss of life and the threatening of livelihoods of so many across the country.

‘People have had to endure separation from loved ones, great uncertainty and the suspension of so much of what is special about our national life.’

Servicemen from the Household Division – which includes the Welsh Guards – have been formed into a Covid Support Force, with the soldiers carrying out coronavirus tests at regional and mobile sites.

Maj Gen Ghika said: ‘The Welsh Guards and many of those on parade have recently been deployed within the United Kingdom as part of the nation’s response to the virus and so the context of the ceremony is particularly poignant.’ 

The non-commissioned officer continued: ‘With fewer people on parade there is no hiding place, there never is, and only the highest standard is acceptable.

‘But more spacing between individuals means that there is also no room for errors and so the soldier has to really concentrate on their own personal drill, reaction to orders, dressing and social distancing.’

One Guardsman has a starring role – Lance Corporal Chusa Siwale, 29, originally from Zambia, who will be the lone drummer for the ceremony delivering the Drummer’s Call to signal for the colour – or military flag – from the Welsh Guards to be trooped – or marched – through the ranks.

A soldier first, he is part of the Welsh Guards’ assault pioneer platoon and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2018 as a force protection commander.

He said: ‘It is a huge privilege for me to be undertaking this key role in the parade at what is a very difficult time for the UK.’

Normally Guardsmen stand shoulder-to-shoulder during their drills or when formed up on the parade ground, allowing them to maintain ‘dressing’ or staying in line with one another.

But in keeping with Covid-19 guidelines, each soldier will be tasked with standing 2.2 metres apart, measured by three turns of the Garrison Sergeant Major’s pace stick.

An event like this has not been staged at Windsor for the sovereign’s birthday since 1895, when a ceremony was held in honour of Queen Victoria.

The Queen has been isolating at Windsor Castle amid the coronavirus pandemic as the Royal Standard flies to mark her residence 

Preparations have started this morning ahead of the Queen’s private birthday ceremony. An event like this has not been staged at Windsor for the sovereign’s birthday since 1895

Blue skies were seen over Windsor Castle this morning where upon arrival, Her Majesty will receive a royal salute, which will be followed by a set of military drill

A coach is seen driving past the entrance to Windsor Castle this morning as cyclists look on. However members of the public are asked not to attend Windsor town centre or gather in the hope of seeing any of the ceremony

Queen Elizabeth II joined by members of the royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their children, Prince Louis, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince of Wales, Princess Royal, Duke of York, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Peter and Autumn Phillips and their children Savannah and Isla, on the balcony of Buckingham Place watch the flypast after the Trooping the Colour ceremony, as she celebrated her official birthday. Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 94th birthday today.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Queen Elizabeth II stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping the Colour on June 13, 2015 in London

Pictured, Prince Philip, the Queen, Kate and Princess Charlotte at Trooping the Colour in 2017

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