The Biggest Moments From Trooping The Colour Through The Years

Every year, the royal family gathers at Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour, the official birthday celebration of the reigning monarch. While the event doesn't mark the king or queen's actual birth date, it serves as an additional birthday celebration, to publicly honor the monarch. Trooping the Colour features as many as 1400 soldiers, 200 horses, and 400 musicians, with members of the public gathering below the Buckingham Palace balcony to celebrate the regal affair.

Trooping the Colour 2023 marked an important historical moment for the royal family, as it was the first time the event had taken place following Queen Elizabeth II's death on September 8, 2022. Now that King Charles III has acceded the throne, the military parade marked his first birthday celebration as the new monarch. 

Every year, royal fans flock to Trooping the Colour to follow everything from the fashion to the funniest moments that take place. Here, we explore the biggest moments from Trooping the Colour through the years.

1982: Princess Diana appears days before Prince William's birth

Princess Diana made her Trooping the Colour debut on June 13, 1981, approximately six weeks before her fairytale wedding to Prince Charles, which took place on July 29, 1981. The following year, Diana made her second Trooping the Colour appearance on June 12, and this time she was pregnant with Prince William, who would be born less than two weeks later on June 21, 1982. 

The photos of the Princess of Wales standing on the Buckingham Palace balcony with her husband and the royal family at Trooping the Colour in 1982 have since become iconic. Diana's emerald green dress and matching hat have been recognized as one of her chicest maternity looks, made all the more special by the fact that she was pregnant with her first child, Prince William, at the time. According to @dianasfashionarchive on Instagram, Diana's dress was designed by British fashion salon Bellville Sassoon, while her fascinator was created by John Boyd. Her beautiful pearl choker was reportedly a gift from her family when she turned 18, per the Instagram account.

In March 2020, Meghan Markle would seemingly pay tribute to Diana's gorgeous emerald ensemble by wearing an Emilia Wickstead cape dress in a very similar shade of green, proving that the former Princess of Wales continues to inspire people's fashion choices decades later.

1988: Prince Harry sticks his tongue out

Prince Harry made quite the impact at Trooping the Colour on June 11, 1988, when he let his cheeky side shine through. Coordinating with his mom Princess Diana in a green and white outfit, Prince Harry stuck his tongue out at the crowd while appearing on the Buckingham Palace balcony alongside the royal family. The little prince was being held by his mother when he stuck his tongue out, and Diana looked at her son with a slightly shocked expression. Clearly, Harry wasn't on his best behavior at the regal event, but it was an early sign that the prince had a bit of a naughty side.

The Duke of Sussex was born on September 15, 1984, making him three-years-old at the time Trooping the Colour took place in June 1988. Since his unforgettable appearance all those years ago, many more royal children have followed his lead by striking funny poses at the annual event. But without a doubt, Prince Harry was one of the first royal kids to have a little too much fun at Trooping the Colour.

2011: Kate Middleton's post-wedding debut

Kate Middleton and Prince William tied the knot at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, so royal watchers were delighted when the former Duchess of Cambridge made her debut at Trooping the Colour the same year. On June 11, 2011, Kate arrived at Trooping the Colour in a carriage with Camilla Parker Bowles, now known as Queen Camilla, and Prince Harry. Less than two months after her fairytale wedding, Kate waved to the crowd as she joined the royal family at the prestigious event. 

For her first Trooping the Colour, Kate wore a white Alexander McQueen coat dress, which was cinched at the waist and featured a pleated, layered skirt. The princess' outfit choice was particularly important, as designer Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen was responsible for creating Kate's unforgettable wedding gown. The Princess of Wales completed her outfit with a hat designed by Sylvia Fletcher for Lock & Co. Since 2011, Kate has made many appearances at Trooping the Colour, but her very first marked an important step as a member of the royal family. 

2015: Prince George interacting with the queen

Royal fans are always excited when the youngest members of the clan make their debuts at important events like Trooping the Colour. On June 13, 2015, Kate Middleton and Prince William's first child, Prince George, appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony for the very first time, and the outing did not disappoint. For starters, George was dressed in a baby blue romper that was the very same outfit worn by his father Prince William at his own debut at Trooping the Colour in 1984, giving the phrase "Like father, like son" a whole new meaning.

William held George in his arms throughout the event, but the little prince wasn't too shy to interact with the crowd and other members of the royal family. In fact, George had some very sweet moments interacting with his great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. Photographers captured the queen talking to her great-grandson, presumably wanting to find out if he was enjoying the festivities. Prince George was also seen glancing up at the sky as the Royal Air Force performed their annual Flypast for the royal family, and waving at people in the crowd below. Since 2015, George has become a regular fixture at Trooping the Colour, but his adorable debut will always be remembered by royal fans.

2016: Queen Elizabeth tells off Prince William

Kate Middleton and Prince William's children have become fan-favorites whenever they appear at official royal events, and all eyes are on the young royals at every Trooping the Colour. However, on June 11, 2016, Prince William reportedly discovered that parenting his young kids at huge royal events wasn't always easy. Both Princess Charlotte and Prince George appeared at Trooping the Colour with their parents in 2016, but it's hard to imagine how overwhelming taking part in the major event must have been at such a young age.

While Kate held Charlotte, George stood on the balcony in front of his parents, and seemingly asked his dad some questions during the event. Photographers captured William crouching down to speak to his son, but Queen Elizabeth II apparently had some stern words for her grandson. In a video clip shared by the Express, the queen could be seen tapping William on the shoulder and gesturing for him to stand up. Although the monarch's actions were very subtle, it's clear that she wanted William to stand up during the formal event, and he was quick to obey.

During an interview with Sky News, William revealed that he always listened to his grandmother, especially following a childhood incident that nearly saw one of his cousins injured. "[The queen] came charging over and gave us the most almighty b******ing," William explained. "And that sort of stuck in my mind from that moment on." 

2017: Prince George gets very bored

Watching huge regal events like Trooping the Colour may be exciting for onlookers, but taking part in them is a completely different story. On June 17, 2017, Prince George attended his third Trooping the Colour, but the young royal was photographed looking extremely bored at several moments throughout the event. Standing with his parents, sister Princess Charlotte, and other members of the royal family, George was photographed leaning on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with his head on his hand. Basically, George's expression screamed, "I'm bored, get me out of here!"

Luckily, George's bad mood lifted when the Royal Air Force began their annual Flypast, during which the young prince could be seen gazing up at the sky. Presumably, George simply got a little bored waiting for the show to start, which is beyond relatable. Considering the fact that he was only three-years-old at the time, Prince George can be forgiven for not finding the pomp of the historical event all that exciting at first.

2018: Naughty cousins causing trouble

Kate Middleton and Prince William's children are often the center of attention at royal events, but that certainly wasn't the case at Trooping the Colour on June 9, 2018. While Prince George made a memorable appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony for the occasion, it was little Savannah Phillips who stole the show. As Princess Anne's granddaughter, Savannah is Prince George's cousin, and it's clear that the pair are extremely close. In fact, Savannah and George appear to have the same streak of mischief running through them, which was on full display in 2018.

While standing on the balcony with the royal family, Savannah clamped her hand over George's mouth, and was photographed with a seriously naughty look in her eyes. The little prince had reportedly been singing "God Save the Queen" at the time, so it's safe to assume that Savannah didn't like her cousin's singing voice. George couldn't stop giggling as his cousin made this cheeky move in front of the entire crowd, and photos of the moment quickly started circulating online. Basically, whenever Savannah and George are together, trouble seemingly isn't far behind.

2018: Princess Charlotte's accident

While Savannah Phillips stole the show at Trooping the Colour on June 9, 2018, Princess Charlotte hit the headlines for a less pleasant reason. During the important event, Charlotte could be seen standing on the balcony with the rest of the royal family when she had a minor accident. The three-year-old princess was seen leaning over the balcony, when she appeared to lose her footing and fall backwards. Luckily, Charlotte's mom, Kate Middleton, was on hand to catch her daughter before any real damage was done. And in a moment of kindness, Savannah also attempted to help calm her little cousin down, as Charlotte started crying after falling down.

Obviously, small children have the propensity to have little accidents wherever they are, and attending a huge event like Trooping the Colour must be quite a shock to the system. However, after cuddling with her mother, Charlotte seemed to recover from the shock of slipping, and she was back to enjoying the day. Still, the moment continues to demonstrate Kate's wonderful abilities as a mom, even while attending an official royal engagement.

2019: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's tense conversation

Following their wedding on May 19, 2018, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle became a regular fixture at royal celebrations. On June 8, 2019, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex both appeared on the balcony at Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour, but royal fans grew concerned that there may be some tensions between the two. In widely circulated video footage, Meghan could be seen looking back to talk to her husband, but Harry didn't appear to be all that pleased with his wife. While it wasn't completely clear what was said between them, many believed that Harry was telling Meghan to turn back around and face the crowd, upsetting her in the process.

Cosmopolitan later reported that the moment had been taken out of context, and that Harry hadn't spoken badly to his wife. Instead, the outlet suggested that Meghan had simply asked Harry a question about the event proceedings, and that he had replied. We'll probably never know the truth of what went down between Meghan and Harry at Trooping the Colour in 2019, but it probably wasn't the major drama it initially appeared to be.

2019: Prince Louis' spritely debut

Kate Middleton and Prince William's youngest child, Prince Louis, made his Trooping the Colour debut on June 8, 2019, when he was just one. The little prince made quite the impact at his first Trooping the Colour, especially when it came to interacting with the crowd below. Prince Louis was also photographed waving to all of the royal fans who had turned up to celebrate the occasion. In fact, the prince's wave was so vigorous that he almost knocked Queen Camilla's hat off of her head. He also seemed to adore watching the Royal Air Force perform their Flypast, and was spotted looking up at the sky somewhat transfixed.

Prior to his appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony, photographers captured Prince Louis staring out of a window with his sister, Princess Charlotte. Per Harper's Bazaar, Louis was spotted making some pretty grumpy faces, seemingly looking directly at the photographers below. Basically, Louis' very first Trooping the Colour appearance was an indication of just how entertaining the prince would be every time he attended an official royal event moving forward.

2021: The queen's private Trooping the Colour

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trooping the Colour was scaled back for 2020 and 2021, in order to keep everyone safe. Instead of the usual fanfare in central London, Trooping the Colour was moved to Windsor Castle, where Queen Elizabeth II herself had been staying during the pandemic. For 2021's event, which took place on June 12, the queen attended the celebration alone, without other senior members of the royal family like Prince Charles, Prince William, or Kate Middleton. Despite being a much smaller affair, the queen appeared to enjoy the event, which marks the official birthday of the monarch each year.

Confirming 2021's alternative plans, Buckingham Palace released a statement to Town & Country explaining, "Upon The Queen and The Duke of Kent's arrival in the Quadrangle, Her Majesty and His Royal Highness will be greeted by a Royal Salute, and the National Anthem. The parade will commence with the Musical Troop as the Band plays. The Colour will then be trooped through the ranks, and the parade will conclude with a second Royal Salute." Although the pandemic completely altered the way Trooping the Colour could take place, the queen appeared to savor the splendor of the event, which was just as regal as ever.

2022: Prince Louis' flypast scream

Following his 2019 debut, Prince Louis became a fan-favorite at official royal events, particularly as he seems to have a flair for the dramatic. Following 2020 and 2021's scaled back events, 2022 saw the return of Trooping the Colour in London, including an appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony from members of the royal family. Importantly, 2022's celebration also marked the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's tenure on the throne, coinciding with her Platinum Jubilee, but that didn't stop Louis from showing his entire personality.

Dressed in a nautical-inspired outfit, Prince Louis began his appearance at the June 2 event by waving and pointing at planes as the Royal Air Force performed its annual Flypast. However, it wasn't long before Louis placed his hands firmly over his ears, and started to scream. Whether or not Louis was actually disturbed by the noise of the aircraft overhead, or was simply putting on a show for the crowds below, remains unknown. Still, the iconic photos of the little prince screaming next to his great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, were instantly meme-worthy, and a clear indicator of things to come.

2022: Queen Elizabeth II's final appearance at Trooping the Colour

In 2022, the world celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, marking an impressive 70 years on the British throne. Following a whole host of incredible events, the queen stepped out on the Buckingham Palace balcony on June 2, 2022, for her annual birthday celebration, Trooping the Colour. Dressed in a baby blue coat dress, adorned with a white trim, and a matching hat, the monarch looked stately as she enjoyed the Royal Air Force's display, alongside several of her closest family members. Kate Middleton and Prince William, along with their three children, joined the queen for the important event, as did Charles and Camilla. And although we didn't know it at the time, Trooping the Colour 2022 was a moment of great historical importance.

Just three months later, on September 8, 2022, it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II had died. After celebrating 70 years on the throne, the queen died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, and the world mourned the long-standing monarch. As a result, 2022's Trooping the Colour marked Queen Elizabeth II's final appearance at the annual event, made even more special by the fact that she had just celebrated her Platinum Jubilee. 

2023: Prince Louis' expressive poses

On June 17, 2023, the royal family gathered at Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour, with the annual event ushering in some major changes. As the first Trooping the Colour to take place following Queen Elizabeth II's death, and the first since King Charles had taken the throne, royal fans didn't know what to expect from the event. Of course, it should have been clear that Prince Louis would steal the show, as he does at just about every public occasion he attends. 

From sneezing during a carriage ride to seriously saluting at the crowd to pumping both of his fists and puffing his cheeks in a very odd balcony pose, Prince Louis let his personality shine through. While Louis was spotted covering his ears, just like he had at previous Trooping the Colour celebrations, this time he didn't emit a scream, which is progress. Having celebrated his fifth birthday on April 23, Prince Louis certainly looked more grown up wearing a smart suit just like his brother Prince George. However, Louis' cheeky streak simply can't be contained, and he was, once again, the focal point of everyone's attention.

2023: King Charles' first Trooping the Colour as monarch

Trooping the Colour took place on June 17 in 2023, and following the death of his mother, King Charles III had a lot to live up to. For his first Trooping the Colour as king, Charles arrived at the event on horseback, the first time a monarch has done so in three decades. The Buckingham Palace balcony also featured significantly fewer members of the royal family than in previous years, which was apparently one of the first signs that Charles is moving forward with his idea of a "slimmed down" monarchy (via Insider).

Queen Camilla joined her husband on the balcony, and the pair waved to the crowds gathered outside Buckingham Palace. The annual flypast featured aircraft from the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force, all of whom paid tribute to the new monarch at his first Trooping the Colour. While Charles' grandson, Prince Louis, stole the show, the celebration was an important honor for the new king, and a signal of the new direction the crown is heading in.