LONDON – The United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her official birthday on Saturday without the usual crowds and pomp.
The monarch, 94, spent the day at Windsor Castle on the outskirts of London, where she and her husband Philip have been residing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She was seen at her first official outside event since the start of the outbreak in the country, a small military parade in the grounds of the residence.
Normally the celebrations include a huge military parade through central London which attracts crowds of thousands of well-wishers who gather along The Mall to see the royal family from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
The event has been scaled back this year due to the coronavirus crisis, with a much smaller parade by the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.
This year the coronavirus crisis has forced this change of plans, although a military band and the Welsh guards paraded in the castle ring.
The monarch stepped out into the courtyard of Windsor Castle on Saturday morning as a military band played the UK’s national anthem, God Save the Queen, before taking a seat in a white tent adorned with flowers.
Wearing a pale green outfit accompanied by a multi-strand pearl necklace and black handbag, she closely followed the ceremonies.
The Welsh guards, in red uniforms and tall black hats, had to redesign their parade to ensure they maintained a minimum of two meters between each other at all times, in line with government measures to help contain the contagion.
Other members of the royal family were absent from the celebrations this year due to the pandemic and the usual flyover of military planes was also canceled.
The British Royal Air Force traditionally performs a display decorating the skies over the capital city with white, blue and red trails of smoke.
This was the second time during the 68 years of Elizabeth II’s reign that the military parade has not taken place in London.
The previous occasion was in 1955 when there was a national train strike.
This year was also the first time since 1895, during the reign of Victoria, that a monarch has celebrated their birthday outside of London.
The Queen was born on April 21, 1926, but the UK monarch’s birthday has been celebrated in June since 1748.
She moved from her permanent residence Buckingham Palace to Windsor her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, in March as a precaution against COVID-19.
The royal couple was photographed together a few days ago to mark the Duke’s birthday, who has retired from public life and is only seen in public at family events.
During the crisis, the Queen has kept weekly contact with the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson by phone.
She has also made two important speeches to the country during quarantine.
The first was in April to give support to the British public after the spread of coronavirus and the second was in May to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, when allied forces defeated Nazi Germany at the end of World War II.