Afghanistan death toll adds poignancy to Queen's birthday parade
Thousands of people still attended however to participate in the ceremony that marks the Queen's official birthday.
The parade, full of pomp and pageantry and much loved by the monarch, was also more solemn than usual because the Parachute Regiment lost five men in one week – its worst loss in seven days since the Falklands War.
Prince William and Prince Harry, both wearing military uniform, attended the annual display for their grandmother, who was 82 earlier this year.
Thousands of spectators also joined the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at the event in Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, central London.
The Guardsmen who took part are active soldiers when not on ceremonial duties. Many have either served in Iraq or Afghanistan, or will be deployed there in the coming months. Prince Harry – an officer in the Household Cavalry's Blues and Royals like his older brother – served in Afghanistan for 10 weeks at the beginning of this year.
There was bright sunshine as the Queen arrived to play her role in a ceremony that she has attended every year since her accession to the throne in 1952 – except in 1955, when there was a national rail strike.
Her first duty was to inspect the long line of troops wearing their famous red tunics and bearskin hats, from the four Foot Guards regiments of the Household Division taking part – the Welsh, Grenadier, Scots and Coldstream Guards.
As she rode in an 1842 ivory-mounted phaeton carriage, behind her on horseback and wearing ceremonial military uniform were the Prince of Wales, who is Colonel of the Welsh Guards; the Princess Royal, Colonel Blues and Royals; and the Duke of Kent, Colonel Scots Guards.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were also present, as were Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, and his wife Sarah. Henry Allingham, 112, one of three known remaining British survivors of the First World War, attended.