Trooping the Colour 2016
The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after Trooping the Colour 2016
Every big birthday needs a big balcony appearance and in the year the Queen turns 90, we finally got the Buckingham Palace moment we'd been waiting for. Elizabeth II stepped out onto the balcony of her London home in front of crowds numbering tens of thousands and put the seal on birthday celebrations that will go down in history.
Admittedly, she had to share the spotlight with Princess Charlotte who made her balcony debut today. But despite the presence of the fourth in line to the throne, this was still a day all about the Queen.
Trooping the Colour has a traditional familiarity about it. This year began like many others in the last 29 years, since the Queen stopped actually riding in the parade, Her carriage left Buckingham Palace for the short trip to Horse Guards Parade giving the crowds their first chance of the day to cheer Elizabeth II and her consort, Prince Philip.
More carriages followed with the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry heading the rest of the parade.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex were there as well with their children, James and Louise, while Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie joined their father, the Duke of York.
The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and the Princess Royal all took part in the parade on horeseback.
This year it was the turn of the 7 Company Coldstream Guards to troop their colour - the ceremony goes back to the times when regiments and batallions would raise their flags before and after a battle to show it was still intact and to rally its troops to it.
Over 1400 soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians took part in this year's ceremony but only one of them fainted. He was helped by a fellow officer within minutes.
Then it was time for the return trip to Buckingham Palace along the Mall which was lined with Union flags and huge crowds.
The Queen joined her family on the balcony around 1pm for the traditional fly past but just before the planes ripped through the skies. a certain Princess Charlotte stole the show by making her first appearance at Buckingham Palace.
It was the first time Charlotte had been officially seen in public since her christening last July although there have been several sets of photographs of her in the intervening eleven months. She even managed to upstage big brother George briefly though his attempt to scale the balcony followed by lots of waving evened things up before the end of the appearance.
It's another royal tradition that the Queen always looks hugely excited during the flypast at Trooping the Colour and this year was no exception. As the planes soared high above her on her official birthday, she looked delighted.
Unlike other years, there are more celebrations tomorrow as the 90th birthday celebrations of Elizabeth II reach their finale with a giant street party on the Mall. But whether it was for her striking green outfit or her love of tradition, in the end Trooping the Colour 2016 was about Elizabeth II, the Queen at 90.
Photo credit: Royal Family Instagram.