Queen Elizabeth celebrates official birthday with military parade

Updated 12:57 PM EDT, Sat June 13, 2015

Story highlights

NEW: Prince George appears on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch the fly-past

The queen's official birthday is marked by the Trooping of the Colour

Catherine makes her first public appearance since Princess Charlotte was born

(CNN) —  

Queen Elizabeth II marked her official birthday Saturday with a spectacular military parade and awards for actors, sportsmen and sportswomen, business leaders and community workers.

The queen’s actual birthday is on April 21 – when the British monarch this year turned 89. But in line with tradition, her birthday is also celebrated on a summer Saturday when the weather is likely to be better for the parade, known as Trooping the Colour.

The queen was joined by her husband, Prince Philip, and other members of the royal family for the ceremony in central London, led this year by the Welsh Guards.

Prince William, left, appears at the 1984 Trooping of Colour with his father Prince Charles. More than twenty years later a similarly dressed Prince George appears and the 2015 Trooping of Colour held by Prince William.
Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Prince William, left, appears at the 1984 Trooping of Colour with his father Prince Charles. More than twenty years later a similarly dressed Prince George appears and the 2015 Trooping of Colour held by Prince William.

After the parade, the queen joined other members of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for a flypast by the Royal Air Force.

At that point, Prince George, now a month from his second birthday, stole the show as he made his first balcony appearance in the arms of his father, Prince William.

His mother, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, earlier made her first public appearance since the birth of Princess Charlotte on May 2, riding in a carriage with Prince Harry and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

The queen’s first Trooping the Colour was in 1953, shortly after her coronation.

The queen also makes use of her official birthday to award honors to members of the public for their service to the nation.

This year, recipients in the public eye include U.S. actor and director Kevin Spacey, recognized for his contribution over a decade as artistic director of the Old Vic theater in London; actor and charity fundraiser Lenny Henry; and Northern Irish musician Van Morrison.

Another to be honored is journalist Caroline Criado-Perez, who in 2013 petitioned to have women displayed on British banknotes, prompting a storm of Twitter abuse.