London - Queen Elizabeth II and her family marked her official 90th birthday on Saturday with a parade, a colourful military ceremony and an appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
It was a day for continuity. Princess Charlotte, age 1, made her first appearance on the balcony near the queen's husband, Prince Philip, who turned 95 on Friday.
The queen, wearing a lime green outfit visible from the far points of the crowded mall in front of the palace, travelled by horse-drawn vintage carriage, sometimes waving to the throng.
Prince Charles, heir to the throne, and his son Prince William rode down the mall on horseback along with Princess Anne, the queen's daughter.
The splendid Trooping the Color parade, which featured more than 1 500 soldiers and officers, also included a fly-by of historic World War II aircraft and modern fighter planes.
Large flag-waving crowds flocked to the mall to mark the queen's milestone and to enjoy the procession.
The parade route in the heart of ceremonial London was lined with people as far as the eye could see.
The crowd cheered as the queen emerged on the balcony, scene of many national celebrations in the past. William and his wife Kate were joined by Charlotte — in Kate's arms — and toddler Prince George, 2, who stood on his own.
The festivities continue on Sunday with a massive street party in front of the palace. The palace has invited roughly 10 000 people who work at charities supported by the queen to the open air festivities.
Street parties will also be held in many towns and cities throughout Britain and in other Commonwealth countries.
The queen's real birthday is in April. The official birthday is timed in hope of fair weather — a custom that began in the 18th century.
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