Young Prince Louis has made his first appearance with the royal family on Buckingham Palace’s balcony to celebrate the Queen’s official birthday – and stole the show.
After the Trooping the Colour ceremony, where the monarch’s 93rd birthday was celebrated with a display of military pomp and pageantry, the 13-month-old prince was carried by his father the Duke of Cambridge onto the first-floor vantage point.
There was another milestone with the Duchess of Sussex attending the ceremony with her husband, her first public appearance since son Archie was born just over four weeks ago.
Meghan has been on maternity leave caring for her baby born at a private London hospital on May 6, and Harry has already spoken about how parenthood has changed their lives, saying he cannot imagine life without his son.
The duchess joined Harry, the Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Cambridge in a coach that was greeted by cheers from crowds in the Mall as it made its way to Horse Guards Parade in London’s Whitehall for the Trooping ceremony.
Louis appeared a natural on the balcony in front of the crowds and when the national anthem was played the toddler prince joined the spectators in clapping.
With his older brother and sister, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, stood nearby with Kate he waved at the well-wishers enthusiastically, as did his siblings, and carried on waving as his father carried him inside.
The day began with the Queen arriving on Horse Guards in a procession featuring a Sovereign’s Escort from the Household Cavalry, made up of Life Guards and Blues and Royals, in their silver and gold breastplates and plumed helmets.
Riding on horseback behind the Queen’s coach were the royal colonels: the Prince of Wales, Colonel of the Welsh Guards, the Princess Royal, Colonel of the Blues and Royals, and the Duke of Cambridge, Colonel of the Irish Guards and Duke of York, Colonel of the Grenadier Guards.
As the national anthem was played at the start of the ceremony a horse ran across the open space after apparently unseating its rider.
Watching from Wellington’s former office overlooking Horse Guards were Harry, Meghan, Kate and the other royals – including the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children the Viscount Severn and Lady Louise Windsor, Princess Eugenie and husband Jack Brooksbank, Princess Beatrice and the Duke of Kent.
Meghan wore a dress by Clare Waight Keller and hat by Noel Stewart while Kate wore a favourite designer – an Alexander McQueen dress and hat by Philip Treacy.
Trooping the Colour is social as well as a ceremonial occasion and in the stands overlooking the parade ground were the wives, girlfriends and parents of the guardsmen and officers on parade.
Four of the five Foot Guards regiments of the Household Division – the Irish Guards, Grenadier Guards, Scots Guards and the Coldstream Guards – marched in the parade wearing their famous bearskins and scarlet tunics.
The colour, or ceremonial regimental flag, paraded this year was from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, a frontline infantry regiment when not performing ceremonial duties.
For centuries colours were carried, or “trooped”, down the ranks so they could be seen and recognised by soldiers.
In the 18th century, guards from the royal palaces assembled daily on Horse Guards to “troop the colours”, and in 1748 it was announced that the parade would also mark the Sovereign’s official birthday.
The massed bands of the Household Division and the Mounted Band of the Household Calvary provided the musical backing for the ceremony.
While also taking part was the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, who later fired a 41-gun salute in Green Park to mark the Queen’s official birthday.
The colour was first trooped through the ranks of soldiers before the guardsmen marched past the Queen, first in slow then in quick time.
From their palace balcony vantage point the royal family later watched a fly-past that included Typhoon jets and Puma and Chinook helicopters, with the Red Arrows ending the display.
But strong winds meant other aircraft were not flown including a Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.