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Queen Elizabeth II celebrates official birthday

world Updated: Jun 13, 2009 21:43 IST

AFP
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Britain's pomp and pageantry was on full show on Saturday as Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her official birthday with the traditional Trooping the Colour parade in London.

Wearing a blue coat and matching hat, Queen Elizabeth, 83, took the salute during the military spectacle, as senior royals and thousands of well-wishers looked on.

Later, the royal family watched from the balcony of Buckingham Palace as 29 aircraft, from vintage planes to modern fighters, took part in the traditional flypast, with the Red Arrows air acrobatics jets trailing red, white and blue smoke.

Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip travelled to the Horse Guards parade ground in Queen Victoria's 1842 ivory-mounted phaeton carriage. Her eldest children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, followed on horseback.

Charles's wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, plus his sons Princes William and Harry -- who both wore military uniform -- watched from a building that was once military hero the Duke of Wellington's office.

The queen has taken the salute every year bar one since her accession to the throne in 1952.

The Colour being paraded on Horse Guards this year was the flag of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

The pomp and ceremony of Trooping the Colour -- a hangover from preparations for battle when colours or flags were "trooped" down the rank so soldiers could recognise them -- marks the queen's official birthday.

Her actual birthday is on April 21 but historically the monarch has another in the summer months, because the weather is supposed to be better for open-air celebrations.