Britain’s King Charles celebrated his first official birthday parade as sovereign on Saturday, riding on horseback to inspect soldiers in a ceremony that has been an annual event since 1760.
The parade, known as “Trooping the Colour”, comes just weeks after Charles’s coronation on May 6, another ceremony featuring soldiers marching in scarlet coats and bearskin fur hats in central London accompanied to music played by military bands.
By appearing on horseback Charles, 74, revives a tradition which his mother, Queen Elizabeth, gave up in 1986 when she was 60.
In what is the British military’s annual tribute to the monarch, Charles was greeted by a Royal Salute and carried out an inspection of soldiers in front of 8,000 spectators, followed by his son the Prince of Wales, his sister Princess Anne and his brother the Duke of Edinburgh also on horseback.
The Queen and the Princess of Wales followed in a carriage.
The colour, or regimental flag, which was trooped in the ceremony belongs to the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.
Charles was then due to return to Buckingham Palace with his family where they will gather on the building’s famous balcony to watch a fly-past of around 70 military aircraft and helicopters starting at 1200 GMT.
Clear skies mean crowds gathered along the route between the Mall and Horse Guard’s Parade will see a full air display, including Typhoon fighters and Red Arrows, jets which were prevented from joining the coronation fly-past due to low clouds.
The C-130 Hercules will also take part, in the transport plane’s final ceremonial flight before being retired after almost 60 years of service.
Charles became king when his mother Queen Elizabeth died aged 96 in September. Trooping the Colour marks the official Birthday of Britain’s monarch and is usually held in June. Charles’s actual Birthday is Nov. 14.