Tens of thousands of people celebrated the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s throne in London. Cheers erupted loudly when the 96-year-old appeared twice on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in the city center. In a powder blue dress, the monarch accepted the homage with a smile, and she wore sunglasses on the second appearance.

However, a small guest of the Queen on the balcony stole the show: Prince Louis (4), the youngest son of William and Duchess Kate, made faces and held his ears to the loud “Flypast” of the Royal Air Force. Smiling, the Queen leaned down to her great-grandson and chatted with him.

In a sailor suit, Louis recalled his father William’s appearance at the 1985 military parade. His older brother Prince George (8) wore a suit and tie, while his sister Charlotte (7) wore a dress.

The children had already attracted everyone’s attention as they made the short journey from the Palace to the Horse Guards Parade parade ground in an open-topped carriage with mother Kate and Queen’s daughter-in-law, Duchess Camilla, Charles’ wife.

Earlier, the military honored its commander-in-chief with the traditional “Trooping the Color” parade, a formation flight of more than 70 planes and helicopters and dozens of gun salutes. Heir to the throne Prince Charles took the military show on Thursday on behalf of his mother. At his side were his son Prince William and his sister Princess Anne.

In bright sunshine, more than 1,200 officers and soldiers marched in red dress uniforms and the famous bearskin hats, while hundreds of military musicians played in honor of the monarch. The 96-year-old, who was recently ill, followed the spectacle at nearby Buckingham Palace.

Surprisingly, Queen’s grandson Prince Harry and his wife Duchess Meghan also followed the military show. The visit of the couple who had emigrated to the United States had triggered fears of a “Sussex bomb”, especially in the conservative British media – that Meghan and Harry, who were recently accompanied by a Netflix film team, could overshadow the anniversary with selfish appearances.

Now the signs point more to a family peace. Because the couple is also expected on Friday at a thanksgiving service in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral and on Saturday evening at a big party with music stars and celebrities at Buckingham Palace. The Queen sent her limousine to pick up her grandson and family from the airport, British newspapers reported.

Even more: According to media reports, a private meeting with Harry’s grandmother is planned for Saturday. The Queen could meet great-granddaughter Lilibet for the first time, who is named after the monarch’s family nickname. Little brother Archie (3) is also there.

The potential audience has fueled rumors the couple could have their daughter christened in front of the Queen. This would be another peace gesture in the family internal dispute. Above all, Harry’s father Prince Charles and brother Prince William are said to resent the 37-year-old’s sharp criticism of the palace in recent months.

But there was also a clear limit for Harry and Meghan: they were not on the Buckingham balcony. Only “working royals” were planned there, as the palace confirmed. Harry and Meghan had given up their royal duties with their move to the United States. The second oldest son of Queen Prince Andrew was also missing. He has largely retired from public view over his involvement in a sex abuse scandal.

I would have liked to see it on site, but the 9 euro ticket doesn’t go that far and, like the Queen, I am dependent on my health on the day. That leaves TV, shortbread, pickle sandwiches and gallons of Earl Gray. Also beautiful. May the Queen enjoy the celebrations. She deserves it.

“Trooping the Color” has been held since 1748 as a birthday parade for the head of state. The so-called Household Division, the royal bodyguard, marches in honor of the monarch. Every year the colors – the “Colours” – of one of the regiments are paraded, hence the name.

This year the focus is on the Irish Guards 1st Battalion. Prince William, as royal patron (Colonel of the Regiment), recently handed over a new flag to the unit. The mascot of the Irish Guards, founded in 1900, is an Irish wolfhound, which also took part in the parade.

The Queen’s birthday is actually on April 21st. However, due to the generally better weather, she is sticking to the tradition established by her great-grandfather, King Edward VII, of holding the parade in a warmer month.

To see the Queen and the parade, numerous people had made their way to the lavishly decorated city center of London since Wednesday. At the Green Park underground station near Buckingham Palace, numerous Queen admirers with British flags and picnic baskets got off early in the morning. Along the boulevard The Mall, which leads to Buckingham Palace, dozens of die-hards camped despite the fresh temperatures. British flags were everywhere.

Some people had the “Union Jack” painted on their cheeks, others wore T-shirts with portraits of Queen Elizabeth II or masks of the 96-year-old monarch. The four-day festival is intended to bring the country together again after Brexit and the corona pandemic.

Shortly before the start of the military parade, at least four people disrupted the soldiers’ march. Three activists from animal rights group Animal Rebellion ran onto The Mall and threw themselves on the ground in front of a military band on Thursday, according to Sky News television. The fourth activist ran a few meters in front of the soldiers and held up a note. What was on it was initially unknown. Police ran over and dragged away the troublemakers, one of whom wore a mock crown. The men were arrested.

Ahead of the celebrations, the royal family tweeted a message from the Queen and a new portrait taken by photographer Ranald Mackechnie. The photograph shows the Queen seated in front of a window in a room at Windsor Castle.

In her message, the Queen thanked everyone involved in organizing the anniversary celebrations. “I know that many happy memories are always made on such festive occasions,” it said.

“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill bestowed on me,” the Queen continued. “I hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to look back on the achievements of the past 70 years as we look to the future with confidence and excitement.”

Across the country, millions of people celebrate their queen at street festivals. Beacons across the country were expected to light up dark skies on Thursday evening. The Queen was to take over the symbolic start at her Windsor Castle residence.

At the same time, her grandson William wanted to light up a tree of lights 35 kilometers further east at Buckingham Palace. Bonfires are also to be lit on the highest peaks of all four parts of the country, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as a number of other locations, including in Commonwealth countries.

Events are also planned on weekends. The well-known Epsom Derby horse race on Saturday is one of the central celebrations, and a “Street Pageant”, a kind of street carnival, is planned in London on Sunday. So that people can celebrate their queen properly, there is another non-working holiday once. In addition, pubs are allowed to open much longer.

Elizabeth has been King George VI since the death of her father. Queen of Britain on 6 February 1952. She was crowned on June 2, 1953.

A few records and numbers from Elizabeth II’s reign:

To kick off the celebrations, the palace also released a video of footage from the Queen’s early years.

The Queen remains extremely popular in the country. According to polling firm Yougov, 84 percent of people in Britain believe the Queen has done a very good or good job in her 70 years on the throne. However, support for the monarchy is waning among younger people. According to a Yougov poll, support among 18- to 24-year-olds has fallen from 59 percent to 33 percent since 2011.

Pope Francis congratulated Elizabeth II on the jubilee. “I send warm greetings and good wishes, along with renewed assurances of my prayers that Almighty God bestow blessings of unity, prosperity and peace on you, the members of the royal family and all the people of the country,” wrote the head of the Catholic Church in a telegram released by the Holy See on Thursday.