The senior military officer who has planned the Queen’s official birthday celebrations has said his aim is to create a “memorable and uplifting day” for the monarch.
Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone and his team have been working for months to stage the event at Windsor Castle which has been dubbed a mini Trooping the Colour.
The pandemic has meant for the second year in succession the military commemoration of the Queen’s official birthday is being staged in the quadrangle of her Berkshire home, but its scope has increased from last year.
The Queen watching last year’s military ceremony that marked her official birthday (Paul Edwards/The Sun)
The Guardsmen taking part have been supporting local communities and the NHS across the UK during the pandemic or been serving overseas on military operations.
The Duke of Kent, Colonel, Scots Guards, will join the head of state for the ceremony and F Company Scots Guards will Troop the Colour of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards through the ranks of guardsmen on parade.
Lt Col Stone was asked about planning the Queen’s official birthday celebrations: “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 explained there was the added issue of a lack of daily practice of ceremonial duties, as the changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace has been stopped since March 2020 to avoid crowds gathering.
The Queen during her official birthday celebrations last year (Joanne Davidson/PA)
The senior officer added: “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.
“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.
“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.”
Lt Col Stone, who serves with the Welsh Guards, is Brigade Major Household Division and was in overall charge of the military arrangements for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.
He was made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen in recognition of his efforts.