COLUMN: Celebrating Her Majesty's 90th birthday in her company
I have attended the Trooping the Colour ceremony several times before but this year's event, as the celebration of the Queen's official 90th birthday, was extra special.
This was obvious with the number of people who had lined the Mall. The crowds, especially near Buckingham Palace were ten to 15 deep with most of the people waving union flags. The number of people attending is not only out of respect but also the love they feel for the Queen personally.
One thing that really sticks in the memory is the colour of the Queen’s outfit - a vibrant green by Stewart Parvin and a matching hat with a pink floral trim by Rachel Trevor-Morgan.
Although very bright, it was an inspired choice, allowing Her Majesty to stand out perfectly against the lines of guardsmen in their scarlet tunics.
This year’s event also saw a couple of firsts - the Earl and Countess of Wessex were in the carriage procession with both of their children, Viscount Severn, the Queen’s youngest grandson, taking part for the first time.
After the ceremony, the police officers gradually opened up the Mall allowing people to converge in front of Buckingham Palace to see the flypast by the RAF and the Royal Family’s appearance on the palace balcony.
It was a real rush but was well worth it. There had been a lot of speculation whether Princess Charlotte would be brought out.
At a year old, she made her first appearance in the arms of her mother, just as the young Princess Elizabeth did in 1927 when her parents returned from a tour of Australia and New Zealand.
On Monday, I was in Windsor for Garter Day.
The Most Noble Order of the Garter is England’s oldest and premier order of chivalry, founded by Edward III at Windsor, the spiritual home of the order.
There are 24 knights and ladies plus members of the Royal Family who are extra members of the order as well as the Queen as sovereign of the order.
Unlike most orders such as MBEs and OBEs which are awarded on the advice of the Government, the Garter is in the personal gift of the Queen.
It is given to people who are eminent in their field and have played a significant part in national life.
One Garter knight who received a loud cheer was former Prime Minister, Sir John Major who attended with his wife, Dame Norma.
It usually offers splendid opportunities to see the Royal Family up close for those lucky enough to obtain tickets.
It was disappointing, then, because of the rain, some of the ceremonial was curtailed.
This year, instead off processing from Windsor Castle to St George’s Chapel, in the precincts of the castle and returning in open carriages, the knights and ladies of the order as well as the Royal Family arrived and left in cars.
Despite not getting a good view of Her Majesty, there was a man next to me from Cardiff, who was welling up at the sight of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh pass by.
I was lucky enough, though, have been given tickets for a viewing area opposite the side entrance to the chapel offering the best views of what was available and able to identify that the Queen was wearing the same large pair of diamond earrings that she wore for her coronation in 1953.
The service was broadcast on loudspeakers allowing us to follow it.
It was a proud sight to see the hundreds of people in the precincts of the chapel who had been huddling in rain macs with umbrellas stand to join in the National Anthem.
Although largely ceremonial, it is part of the rich tapestry of royal life and a colourful spectacle - I’m certainly pleased to have had the opportunity to have played a part in witnessing it.