Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Saturday, 13 June 2009 13:36 UK

Queen watches birthday spectacle


The Queen watches the RAF flypast

The Queen has celebrated her 83rd official birthday with the Trooping the Colour parade in central London.

More than 1,100 soldiers and 300 horses took part in the historic display of military pomp and pageantry, on Horse Guards Parade.

The Queen took the royal salute as other members of the royal family, as well as friends and family of the guardsmen themselves, looked on.

The Red Arrows, as is tradition, rounded off a flypast by the RAF.

One of the Queen's duties in the ceremony was to inspect the troops, who were wearing red tunics and bearskin hats.

Crowds greeted

The troops are from the four Foot Guards regiments of the Household Division taking part - the Irish, Grenadier, Scots and Coldstream Guards.

Earlier, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were greeted by crowds lining The Mall as they rode from Buckingham Palace in a vintage carriage.

Princes William and Harry travelled in another horse-drawn carriage to the ceremony with the Duchess of Cornwall.

Prince William wore his Royal Air Force uniform, while Prince Harry wore the uniform of his regiment, the Blues and Royals.

Prince Harry, Prince William and the Duchess of Cornwall

The Earl and Countess of Wessex joined the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester in the second carriage.

Prince Charles, as Colonel of the Welsh Guards, arrived on horseback with the Princess Royal, who is Colonel of the Blues and Royals, and the Duke of Kent, Colonel of the Scots Guards.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown also attended the ceremony with his wife Sarah.

This year's Trooping the Colour is the 57th birthday parade of the Queen's reign.

The procession was accompanied by a Sovereign's Escort of the Household Cavalry, made up of Life Guards and Blues and Royals, in their silver and gold breastplates and plumed helmets.

Irish Guards

The Queen's actual birthday was on 21 April, when she turned 83.

The tradition of two birthdays dates back to the time when, if monarchs were born in winter, the weather was deemed unsuitable for outdoor events.

Traditionally before battle, Colours - or flags - were carried, or "trooped", along the rank of soldiers so they could be seen and recognised.

In 1748, it was decided the trooping would also be used to honour the sovereign's birthday.

The Colour paraded this year was that of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

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