Soldiers from the Welsh Guards, who a few weeks ago were manning Covid-19 test centres, staged the unique event in the grounds of Windsor Castle, as the head of state made her first official public appearance since the lockdown was imposed. Queen Elizabeth II was “beaming” as a BBC One host put it when the Welsh Guards performed Triple Crown as they performed a spin wheel, turning 180 degrees while maintaining that social distancing.
The Queen seemed to be enjoying the music as the guards performed the move for the first time.
The traditional Trooping the Colour ceremony, which normally features hundreds of servicemen and women and thousands of spectators, was ruled out because of the threat of coronavirus.
But the Household Division – made up of the British’s Army’s most prestigious regiments – has a close affinity with the Queen and was keen to mark the milestone with a ceremony dubbed mini-Trooping.
Lance Corporal Chusa Siwale, 29, originally from Zambia, had a central role in the ceremony which was created by Garrison Sergeant Major Warrant Officer Class 1 Andrew Stokes.
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The guardsman, whose regiment is part of the Household Division, said it was a “huge privilege” to be given the key role performing the Drummer’s Call, during a “very difficult” time for the country.
He said: “Only four weeks ago I was involved with testing key workers for Covid-19 as part of the Welsh Guards’ contribution to the battle against the virus; now I am on parade performing in front of Her Majesty.
“This is a very proud day for me.”
As the Queen arrived in Windsor Castle’s quadrangle the ceremony began when she took her place on a dais and the royal salute was given by the troops and the national anthem was played.
Each June, the royal family are out in force, taking part in the carriage procession, watching the military parade on Horse Guards Parade and gathering on the Buckingham Palace balcony to enjoy a celebratory flypast.
It marks the monarch’s official birthday and has done since 1748.
The display of pomp and pageantry usually attracts thousands of tourists who flock to central London to see the traditional spectacle.
It has only been cancelled once before during the Queen’s reign – in 1955 during a national rail strike.