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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 June, 2003, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Thousands watch war heroes' flypast
The Queen and Prince Philip
Prince Philip rode in a carriage with the Queen for the first time
Pilots from the war with Iraq formed part of a flypast during the annual Trooping the Colour pageant for the Queen's Official Birthday.

The formation, including Tornado and Jaguar fighter jets, a VC-10 and a C-17 Globemaster, travelled overhead down The Mall and over Buckingham Palace on Saturday.

The Queen and other members of the Royal Family, including Prince William, watched from the balcony at the front of the palace.

For two and a half hours beforehand, thousands of spectators who had lined the streets watched as the Queen saluted her troops for the 51st year in succession.

She has attended the annual parade every year of her reign except 1955, when a national rail strike forced its cancellation.

For the first time, 82-year-old Prince Philip rode in the Queen's carriage instead of on horseback - a decision taken because of his advancing years.

Princes Williams and Harry
Princes Williams and Harry also took part in the parade

Princes William and Harry thrilled the crowds by driving in the procession together in a horse-drawn carriage and then they watched the rest of the show from a balcony overlooking Horseguards Parade.

The day also saw the release of the Birthday Honours List, with England football captain David Beckham receiving an OBE and actor Roger Moore a knighthood.

Although the 77-year-old Queen's real birthday is on 21 April, the celebrations take place in June because good weather is more likely.

62 gun salute

Travelling at 1,500ft and 315mph, the flypast formation joined up near Southwold on the Suffolk coast before heading for central London via the Colchester area and Fairlop.

An RAF spokesman said the aircraft would head north west after clearing Buckingham Palace, before dispersing to their home stations.

At the same time, a 62-gun salute was fired from the gun wharf at the Tower of London, by the Honourable Artillery Company.

Roger Moore at Buckingham Palace in 1999

Its 105mm light guns fired one round every 10 seconds and the salute took six minutes and 20 seconds to fire.

The Queen has attended the annual parade every year of her reign except 1955, when a national rail strike forced it to be cancelled.

The pageant involves members of the Household Division of Foot Guards and Household Cavalry on Horseguards Parade in Whitehall.

Its name comes from the first parades, which were held in the 18th Century.

The 'colours' or flags of the battalion were carried or 'trooped' down the ranks so that they could be seen and recognised by the soldiers.

Since 1748 the parade has also marked the sovereign's official birthday.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"Battle dress was replaced by bearskins and scarlet tunics"

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