On Saturday 12 June, a military parade in celebration of the Queen’s “official” birthday will take place at Windsor Castle.
It is the second year in a row the annual celebration – which is usually held on The Mall outside Buckingham Palace – will be held in Windsor, where the Queen has been staying for most of the pandemic.
Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone, the officer in charge of staging the event, said that although the scope of this year’s event has increased from last year due to the easing of coronavirus restrictions, planning has still been difficult.
“It’s been extremely demanding; we’ve had to tackle Covid like everybody else, with some people needing to isolate and therefore not being able to be on parade,” he said.
A lack of daily practice of ceremonial duties, such as the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, has also affected officers’ performances.
“So from a skillset perspective it’s been very difficult to achieve what I hope will be a good standard because we’re not doing the Changing of the Guard ceremony every day due to the pandemic – that applies to horses, the musicians and the Guardsmen with their foot drill and rifle drill,” he said.
Traditionally, the parade would see more than 1,400 soldiers, 400 musicians and 200 horses make their way down The Mall. In keeping with coronavirus restrictions, the number of military personnel taking part in the birthday parade was significantly scaled back last year.
“Last year we had 85 on parade, this year we’ve got 274, plus 70 horses, so we’re really excited about the event having grown and getting us back to normal for next year we hope,” Lt. Col. Stone said.
The officers taking part in the parade have been supporting local communities and the NHS across the UK during the pandemic or have been serving overseas on military operations.
“It’s been very challenging, but we like a challenge. Covid has got a lot to answer for in so many ways, it’s made this difficult but what we want to do more than anything is give the Queen a memorable and uplifting day,” he added.
Lt. Col. Stone, who serves with the Welsh Guards, was also in charge of the military arrangements for the late Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.