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Opening event of Platinum Jubilee will see 96-year-old queen break with tradition

Rather than take the salute from parading military members on the ground, she will receive a salute from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II will break with decades of tradition at the opening of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Rather than take the salute from parading military members on the ground, she will receive a salute from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, the palace said in a statement.

The “Trooping the Color” — involving more than 1,500 officers and soldiers and 350 horses from the army’s Household Division — will take place as normal at Horse Guards Parade, less than a mile from Buckingham Palace. 

But this year, Elizabeth, 96, will not attend the long ceremony. Instead, Prince Charles will take the salute and inspect the troops on his mother’s behalf, the statement said. He will be joined by his son Prince William and sister, Princess Anne, it added. Other members of the royal family will also watch, it said.    

“Upon the return of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and the Guards, the queen will take a salute from the balcony of Buckingham Palace,” the statement said. 

The queen, accompanied by members of the royal family, will later return to the famed balcony to watch a flypast of aircraft by the Royal Air Force, it added. Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have also traveled from the U.S. to attend some jubilee events.

The queen “has taken the salute at every parade since her accession to the throne in 1952 other than in 1955 when there was a national rail strike,” according to the British army's website. 

For the last two years, Covid restrictions led to scaled-back events at Windsor Castle, around 30 miles west of London, which the queen attended.      

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The “Trooping the Color” is believed to have been first performed during the reign of King Charles II from 1660 to 1685, the army website says. “In 1748 it was decided that this parade would be used to mark the official birthday of the sovereign,” it said.

So while Britain’s longest-serving monarch was actually born April 21, 1926, “Trooping the Color” is a public celebration held every June. 

As Britain prepares to celebrate a royal platinum jubilee for the first time in its history with street parties and other events, the queen has already canceled several plans. 

A planned visit to a major horse racing meet Saturday is off, and there will be no ceremonial journey to London’s famous St. Paul’s Cathedral for a service of thanksgiving for her on Friday.

The queen, who became the longest-reigning monarch in British history in 2015, surpassing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, has been scaling back her activities in recent months. 

For the first time in six decades, last month she pulled out of reading her speech at the ceremonial state opening of Parliament, because of what Buckingham Palace called “episodic mobility issues.”

Doctors ordered her to rest in October after she spent a night in the hospital undergoing preliminary tests. She later canceled her usual Christmas trip to the Sandringham estate, as well as a traditional family lunch, because of a spike in cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the country. It was the first Christmas after the death of her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, in April 2021 at 99.

She also tested positive for Covid in February. 

Ahead of the jubilee celebrations, she took a short break on her Scottish estate of Balmoral before she traveled back Tuesday to Windsor Castle.

However, her plane was forced to delay its landing because of a lightning storm, Buckingham Palace said in a statement.