King Charles III rides on horseback for Trooping the Colour birthday parade in UK

London: King Charles III became the first British monarch in 30 years to ride on a horseback for his first Trooping the Colour parade on Saturday, which marks his official birthday celebrations in the UK.

Charles turned 74 on November 14 last year but Saturday is when the country celebrates its monarch’s birthday as per royal tradition for the parade to be held in the summer months.

The centrepiece is the King’s Birthday Parade involving over 1,400 military officers together with 200 horses, over 400 musicians from 10 bands and corps of drums.

Joining him on horseback as the parade rode through the Mall to Buckingham Palace in central London were the King’s son and heir, William – the Prince of Wales, his sister Anne – the Princess Royal, and brother Edward – the Duke of Edinburgh.

Following them in a horse-drawn carriage were the King’s wife Queen Camilla, William’s wife Catherine – the Princess of Wales, and their three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

This weekend marks the first Trooping the Colour parade since the passing away of Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II, aged 96 in September last year. Known as a keen horse lover, she last rode on horseback for the annual parade in 1986.

The tradition of Trooping the Colour dates to the days when flags were used as rallying points on the battlefields and it was essential that soldiers recognise their own regimental flag colours.

Hence the “Colours” were trooped, or displayed, prominently regularly to assembled troops.

The regimental flag that was trooped in front of hundreds of Guardsmen and officers for the monarch was the King’s Colour of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and wife Akshata Murty were among the special guests in the stands watching the parade, along with around 8,000 people with allocated seats around the parade square through a ballot, which around 250,000 people enter each year.

Following the ceremony, the royal family will head back to Buckingham Palace to gather on the balcony to watch an extended military flypast after the display on King Charles III’s Coronation Day on May 6 had to be scaled down due to bad weather.

Around 70 aircraft from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force will take part, including aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the C-130 Hercules on its final ceremonial flight, modern Typhoon fighter jets with a red, white and blue finale from the Red Arrows.