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King Charles III celebrates first Trooping the Colour as monarch

King Charles celebrates Trooping the Colour ceremony
King Charles celebrates first Trooping the Colour as monarch 02:24

London — King Charles III on Saturday took part in the first Trooping the Colour of his reign, a centuries-old ceremony that honors the official birthday of the British sovereign.

The 260-year-old tradition marks the birthday of a reigning monarch, the technical head of the British Armed Forces. It's different than 74-year-old Charles' own birthday, which is Nov. 14.

Spectacle was the order of the day as thousands of loyal subjects joined Charles in a series of colorful tributes.

Trooping the Colour King Charles III
King Charles III during the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London. June 17, 2023. Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

For the first time in more than three decades, Charles revived a royal tradition by riding on horseback during the ceremony, flanked by royal colonels: his son, Prince William, his youngest brother, Prince Edward, and his sister, Princess Anne.

It was a poignant event, the first trooping ceremony for someone other than the late Queen Elizabeth II in seven decades.

In 2022, Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee — marking 70 years on the throne — was one of the largest Trooping ceremonies in recent memory. It would be the last time she would inspect the hundreds of horses and soldiers as they perform battlefield drills to military music, an annual hallmark of Britain's hard power.

As part of the ceremony, senior members of the royal family gather together on the Buckingham Palace balcony for what is known as the fly past, which this year was an impressive display of aerial might.

However, there were a few notable absences, including Charles' brother, Prince Andrew, and his son, Prince Harry, and Harry's wife, Meghan Markle, who are no longer senior working royals. Charles' coronation last month also came with no formal roles for Andrew or Harry. 

The Trooping ceremony has not always gone as smoothly as it did Saturday. In 1981, Elizabeth was shot at from a distance. However, that did not stop her from riding on horseback at the event for another five years.

She only opted to ride in a carriage instead beginning in 1987, after her beloved horse, Burmese, a gift from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, retired.

During the final rehearsal for Charles' Trooping ceremony --- because of the unusually high temperatures --- at least three guardsmen, dressed in their heavy tunics and bearskin hats, fainted from the heat.

But on Saturday, the weather cooperated and the event went smoothly.

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