Every year, the Queen marks her birthday twice: Once April 21, which is the anniversary of the day she was born, and again in June, at Trooping the Colour, her official public birthday celebrations. But this year, the coronavirus pandemic has changed all of that.
The event, which is often the biggest highlight of the year for royal watchers, was scheduled for June 13. But Buckingham Palace says it will "not go ahead in its traditional form." The Queen has attended Trooping the Colour every year except 1955, when the event was cancelled because of a national rail strike in the United Kingdom.
"In line with Government advice, it has been agreed that The Queen's Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, will not go ahead in its traditional form," Buckingham Palace said in a statement on March 27. "A number of other options are being considered, in line with relevant guidance."
It's not clear how Trooping the Colour could be staged differently, though perhaps it could be held at a later date in the summer or early fall. Of course, Her Majesty will still celebrate her birthday on April 21, and she'll likely do so at Windsor Castle. She and Prince Philip have been there since March 19.
Getting the coronavirus pandemic under control remains the top priority worldwide, including for the Royal Family. On March 25, it was revealed Prince Charles had contracted COVID-19, and two days later, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he, too, had the virus. Both are self-isolating and only have mild symptoms so far.
The Palace says the Queen remains in good health, despite Charles and Boris's diagnoses, and continues to listen to government advice.
Trooping the Colour has been held every year since 1748, when George II started it as a way to celebrate his birthday (which fell in November) without getting sick. To keep himself and his family healthy, he combined his birthday celebration with the spring parade, which was known as Trooping the Colour.
If you're not familiar with what the celebration involves, it is traditionally held on the second Saturday of June. More than 1,400 officers take part in a military parade including 200 horses and 400 musicians from 10 bands. In the past, Prince William, Charles and Princess Anne have taken to horseback and rode during the procession, as Her Majesty once did, but she now uses a carriage during the procession.
The parade involves the royals proceeding up and down The Mall from Buckingham Palace to Home Guards Parade, Whitehall, and then back again. When the Queen arrives at Horse Guards Parade, she gets a special salute and then inspects the troops. A band performs a musical number, and then the Queen is driven back to the Palace as head of her Guards. Of course, huge crowds turn out, which is obviously a concern this year due to the risk of transmitting the virus.
Following the carriage procession, the Royal Family stands on Buckingham Palace's balcony to greet crowds and watch a Royal Air Force flypast. This is typically an opportunity to see any royal children or babies of whom we haven't had a glimpse in a while. It's also a sweet moment for royal watchers to see the family all together. Last year, we were treated to all of the Cambridge kids together, with little Prince Louis delighting fans with his sweet little wave as Duchess Kate and William held him in their arms. Many were likely hoping to see little Archie back in the U.K. with Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan this year.
While we're sad to hear how the coronavirus pandemic has affected this very special royal event, we're glad the priority is being placed on stopping the spread of COVID-19 and getting the world healthy again.