QUEEN Elizabeth II has marked her official birthday by viewing a socially-distanced military ceremony at Windsor Castle after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the traditional Trooping of the Colours.
The celebration of her 94th birthday was the Queen’s first official public appearance since the United Kingdom went into lockdown in late March.
The 94-year-old monarch watched a series of drills by the First Battalion Welsh Guards in the castle’s quadrangle, instead of the Trooping the Colour parade through the streets of central London that traditionally marks the occasion. It is only the second time in the Queen’s 68-year reign that the parade in London has not gone ahead.
The Queen, who has been living with her 99-year-old husband Prince Philip at the castle west of London, has issued a number of rallying messages to the nation in the past three months, including televised addresses that have been a rarity during her 68-year reign.
But she had not been seen in public until Saturday when dressed in a jade coat and wearing a diamond Welsh Guards brooch, she observed soldiers adhering to the two-metre social distancing rule, and listened to music performed by a Band of the Household Division.
The gun salutes in London that normally marks that occasion were also cancelled.
The Queen’s actual birthday is April 21, but her birthday is officially marked on the second Saturday of June every year.
Guardsman Lance Corporal Chusa Siwale, 29, originally from Zambia, had a central role in the ceremony, performing the Drummer’s Call.
“Only four weeks ago I was involved with testing key workers for COVID-19, as part of the Welsh Guards’ contribution to the battle against the virus. Now I am on parade performing in front of Her Majesty. This is a very proud day for me,” the young soldier told British media.
The Welsh Guards, along with the rest of the Household Division, have been among the soldiers helping with the coronavirus response across Britain.