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The stoic Queen marked her first official birthday without her late husband Prince Philip as she attended a scaled-back and socially-distanced celebration.

A mini Trooping the Colour for the 95-year-old monarch was held in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle for the second year running due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The poignant event was held two days after what would have been the Duke of Edinburgh’s 100th birthday.

The Queen's cousin, the Duke of Kent, 85, accompanied her on a dais in his role as Colonel of the Scots Guards.

The monarch was seen tapping her feet as the band played, and later smiling as the RAF's Red Arrows flew over the military parade for the first time since 2019.

The Queen looks on as soldiers file past her during Saturday's military parade

In normal times, thousands of well-wishers would flock to Westminster, central London, to watch the Queen and royals as they travel to and from Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall and gather on the Buckingham Palace balcony for a flypast.

But the military commemoration has been cancelled in its traditional form and there has been no public involvement since 2019 due to the Covid pandemic.

The Queen wore a grey and lemon yellow coat and hat, and an aquamarine bar brooch. She wore the outfit at the State Opening of Parliament in April.

Saturday's mini Trooping the Colour featured soldiers who have supported communities and the NHS during the pandemic or served overseas on military operations.

The Queen marked her first official birthday alone since the death of herhusband Prince Philip

The Bands of the Household Division arrive in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle for the Trooping of the Colour

From her dais, the Queen watched the ceremony unfold with Guardsmen in their scarlet tunics and bearskins and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in their breast plates and plumed helmets.

The birthday parade is a gift from the Household Division – the Army’s most prestigious regiments – which has a close affinity with the monarch and is keen to show its loyalty to the Crown.

The senior military officer who planned the Queen’s official birthday celebrations had said his aim is to create a “memorable and uplifting day” for the monarch, who was last seen in the quadrangle during Philip's funeral procession in April.

Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone and his team had worked for months to stage the event at Windsor Castle which has been dubbed a mini Trooping the Colour.

The Queen arrives with the Duke of Kent at the scaled back Tropping the Colour at Windsor Castle

Saturday's event was dubbed a mini Trooping the Colour

Its scope increased from last year to include a flypast by the Red Arrows once again.

The Guardsmen taking part have been supporting local communities and the NHS across the UK during the pandemic or been serving overseas on military operations.

The Duke of Kent, Colonel, Scots Guards, joined the head of state for the ceremony and F Company Scots Guards Trooped the Colour of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards through the ranks of guardsmen on parade.

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On parade in front of the Queen in bright summer sunshine was an array of socially distanced Guardsmen, mounted Troopers and the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

They were joined by a massed band of the Household Division – musicians from all of the five Foot Guards Bands and the 1st Battalion Scots Guards Pipes and Drums.

The servicemen and women on parade numbered almost 275, with 70 horses, compared with the 85 soldiers who took part in the ceremony last summer.

The Queen's cousin, the Duke of Kent, joined her in his role as Colonel of the Scots Guards

The Bands of the Household Division arrive in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle for the Trooping of the Colour

A rare sight on the parade ground were two officers who were father and son.

Colonel Jeremy Bagshaw, Chief of Staff at Army Headquarters London District, was stood close to the Queen’s dais while his 18-year-old son, 2nd Lieutenant Henry Bagshaw, Coldstream Guards, was formed up in front of the monarch.

A small handful of seated guests lined part of the quadrangle – a change from last year when only the military were present.

The playing of the national anthem as a royal salute was given by soldiers signalled the start of the ceremony and the Massed Bands marched past first in slow then quick time.

They performed the feathering technique, named as it resembles the Prince of Wales’s feathers when seen from above, and used to allow the marching musicians to turn 180 degrees and maintain individual distances.

Soldiers salute as the Queen arrives with the Duke of Kent (right)

A lone drummer played the Drummer’s Call that signalled the group of soldiers and officers known as the Escort for the Colour to get into position.

Lieutenant Hugh Dingwall was given the honour of carrying the Colour which has deep symbolic significance and it was trooped through the ranks.

Lt Col Stone said before the event: “It’s been extremely demanding; we’ve had to tackle Covid like everybody else, with some people needing to isolate and therefore not being able to be on parade.”

He explained there was the added issue of a lack of daily practice of ceremonial duties, as the changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace has been stopped since March 2020 to avoid crowds gathering.

The senior officer added: “So from a skillset perspective it’s been very difficult to achieve what I hope will be a good standard because we’re not doing the Changing of the Guard ceremony every day due to the pandemic – that applies to horses, the musicians and the Guardsmen with their foot drill and rifle drill.

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“Last year we had 85 on parade, this year we’ve got 274, plus 70 horses, so we’re really excited about the event having grown and getting us back to normal for next year we hope.

“It’s been very challenging, but we like a challenge. Covid has got a lot to answer for in so many ways, it’s made this difficult but what we want to do more than anything is give the Queen a memorable and uplifting day.”

Lt Col Stone, who serves with the Welsh Guards, is Brigade Major Household Division and was in overall charge of the military arrangements for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

He was made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen in recognition of his efforts.

The Queen has kept busy since the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, despite grieving for her husband and being just five years away from her own 100th birthday.

Philip would have reached his centenary milestone on Thursday but the Royal Family said farewell to their patriarch two months ago after he died in April at the age of 99.

The Queen has been continuing with her work as head of state at Windsor Castle, where she spent most of lockdown with the duke.

Support has come from her family, including her daughter-in-law the Countess of Wessex, who lives nearby, her personal dresser and confidante Angela Kelly, and her ladies in waiting.

The Queen also has the companionship of her pets – her corgi puppy Muick, bought for her when Philip was ill by the Duke of York, and an older dog – a dorgi called Candy.

But she was left heartbroken when another puppy, Fergus the dorgi, died just a month after the duke.

The Queen watches the military parade from a dais in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle

Amid rifts and divisions – from the fallout of the Sussexes’ Oprah interview, with accusations of racism, to Harry criticising the royal family for “total neglect” over his attempts to get help over social media harassment – there have been moments of joy among the sadness in 2021.

Princess Beatrice announced she was expecting a baby in the autumn and on Sunday Harry and Meghan shared the news they had welcomed a daughter – Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.

Lili, the Queen’s 11th great-grandchild, has been named in tribute to both the Queen – with Lilibet being her family nickname – and Harry’s late mother Diana, Princess of Wales.

Lilibet was also the name Philip used for his wife of 73 years.

But the Sussexes clashed with the BBC over the version of events that led to the naming of their daughter.

Harry and Meghan’s lawyers have written to the corporation after a BBC story claimed the Queen had not been asked about the naming of their baby.

The Queen holds a sword before using it to cut a cake at the Eden Project in Cornwall
(Image: Getty Images)

A spokeswoman for the couple said their daughter’s name was mentioned in a conversation with the Queen.

The Queen is understood to be keen to carry out more public engagements in the coming months instead of the virtual events which have taken up much of her schedule since the pandemic hit.

She has a busy run of events this month.

On Friday she insisted on borrowing a ceremonial sword to cut a cake during a royal engagement coinciding with the G7 Summit in Cornwall, prompting laughter from the Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge.

The monarch had been handed the sword by Edward Bolitho, the Lord-Lieutenant of Cornwall, for the task of cutting a large cake marking the Big Lunch at the Eden Project.

When told by an aide that there was a conventional knife available, the Queen replied: “I know there is, this is more unusual”.

The monarch will host US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden at Windsor Castle on Sunday.

The Queen has been staying at Windsor Castle during the pandemic, spending much of that time shielding with Philip until his death in April.

He was laid to rest at St George's Chapel, in the castle's grounds, at a funeral service that allowed only 30 mourners due to Covid rules at the time.