What are hordes of colors? Who will attend the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on the balcony of Buckingham Palace?

Today is the official celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday, and the party she has worked so hard to attend for 70 years on the throne.

Trooping the Color is the monarch’s personal inspection of the British and Commonwealth regiments.

But the moment everyone was waiting for was the final appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

After a tumultuous two years, who shows up – and who doesn’t – will provide a rare glimpse into the status quo of the monarchy.

What are hordes of colors?

Trooping the Color is a ritual that literally translates to “raising the flag”.

To know who’s who is on the battlefield, soldiers need to be able to identify the color of each regiment — a flag in military parlance.

As a military exercise, guards line up or carry colors in the ranks so that everyone can see.

It was first used to commemorate the monarch’s birthday in 1748 during the reign of King George II, and became an annual event after the accession of King George III in 1760.

Since then, the “Parade” has become a pompous and spectacular display watched by millions.

Queen Elizabeth II attended the event every year during her reign, except in 1955 when it was cancelled due to a national rail strike.

Black and white photo of Princess Elizabeth riding a horse in military uniform.
Princess Elizabeth rides in the side saddle during her father King George VI’s first military parade on June 12, 1947.(AFP)

Colonel of the Grenadier Guard, Princess Elizabeth became the first woman since Queen Victoria to attend the 1947 ceremony.

She rode in the annual parade until 1987 when she started using a carriage.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a significantly reduced military parade will be held at Windsor Castle in 2020 and 2021.

What happens to army colors?

People of colour started at Buckingham Palace in London.

The royals traveled down the shopping centre in horse-drawn carriages to the Horse Guards parade.

The Queen was the last to leave, in her own carriage, escorted by the Household Cavalry.

When she arrived at the parade, she was greeted by a royal salute and inspected the troops.

This year, the 1st Battalion Irish Guards will go out to their colours.

The Queen then returned to the palace to watch the RAF air show from the balcony with the royal family.

Nine planes with colorful smoke trails fly over Buckingham Palace.
The Royal Air Force’s overflight of Buckingham Palace marked the end of the event.(Reuters: Hannah McKay)

Who will be on the balcony?

A lot has changed since the last happy family photo taken at Trooping of the Color in 2019.

At the time, the Queen appeared on the balcony with 41 royal relatives.

Notably, her husband Prince Philip has not been there since his retirement in 2017.

Instead, the Queen is flanked by her two eldest sons, Prince Charles, heir to the throne, and Prince Andrew.

Nearby are Prince Harry and wife Meghan.

Members of the British royal family gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Compared to 2019, fewer balcony appearances are expected this year.(Reuters: Hannah McKay)

In January 2020, Harry and Meghan effectively resigned as “senior royals” and later moved to North America.

Their scathing interview with Oprah in March 2021 said the royals and court aides had bullied Meghan and were concerned about how dark their son Archie might be.

When Harry returns to the UK for Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021, he and his brother Prince William appear to be relatively friendly, despite reports of a breakdown in their relationship.

Both Meghan and Harry will be returning to the UK for the jubilee celebrations with young children Archie and Lilibet.

However, they won’t be on the balcony, which will be limited to “working royals”.

This is partly due to Prince Charles’ desire to reduce excess royals while also eliminating the family’s biggest problem – Prince Andrew.

Prince Andrew sat on his horse.
Prince Andrew played a key role in the 2019 military parade.(Reuters: Clodagh Kilcoyne)

Prince Andrew was stripped of military ties and royal patronage in January when he faced a civil sexual assault case in the US.

The case was dismissed in February after he settled with Virginia Giuffre, who claimed she was sexually abused as a minor.

The settlement included an undisclosed payment, with Prince Andrew making a “substantial donation” to Ms Giuffre’s charity to support victims’ rights.​​​

The prince did not admit wrongdoing in agreeing to settle the civil suit. He has not been charged with criminal wrongdoing.

According to British tabloid The Sun, Prince Charles funded most of the settlement, and the Queen was involved.

Prince Andrew’s first public appearance since the reconciliation was escorting his mother to Prince Philip’s memorial in March.

Senior royals are reportedly “frustrated” by Prince Andrew’s public involvement that day, but it remains to be seen whether he will play a major role in the jubilee celebrations.

He took over the role of Colonel of the Grenadier Guards from his father in 2017 and returned to the Queen this year.

Prince William oversees Saturday’s rehearsal as a colonel in the Irish Guard.

Prince William saluting on horseback.
Prince William is second in line to the throne after his father Prince Charles.(Reuters: Peter Nichols)

When to paint?

This year, Trooping the Color is back in London to kick off the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

You can watch it live in Australia on Channel 7 Free TV Starting Thursday, June 2 at 8:30pm EST.

Queen Elizabeth II is the first British monarch to mark 70 years of service.