Queen's joy at majestic Trooping of the Colour birthday celebrations

The smile on her face spoke volumes – the Queen was delighted with this year's Trooping of the Colour ceremony which marked her official birthday.

Radiant in a lilac top coat and matching hat, the monarch – who celebrated her actual birthday on April 21 - presided over the procession of soldiers of the household division.

Crowds of over 20,000 had packed the streets around Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall to see the historic event, held this year to mark the sovereign's 84th birthday.

Proceedings began with the Queen and Prince Philip riding down The Mall from Buckingham Palace in Queen Victoria's 1842 ivory-mounted carriage, which was pulled by grey horses.

Accompanying them on horseback were Prince Charles, Princess Anne and the Duke of Kent. Meanwhile following in carriages were Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie – who both wore intricate titfers – and Prince William and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Later, from the palace balcony the royal family watched the Royal Air Force fly past with WWII planes, fighter jets and the Red Arrows.

This year's celebrations were the 58th time the Queen has overseen the event. The Trooping of the Colour is a traditional enactment of the preparations for battle when the flags – or colours – were paraded down the ranks so they would be recognised by soldiers.

The colour being trooped this year was the flag of the first Battalion Grenadier Guards, who returned from Afghanistan six weeks ago.

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