Isabel II is an island. It does not matter who or how many surround her at official events. The British recognize, admire – in their great majority – and expect from the queen a solitary fortitude that they do not attribute to any other member of the royal family. That is why her image in the Chapel of St. George was classified as a national shock on April 17, during the funeral of her husband, Felipe de Edimburgo. Sitting alone in a corner of the choir, in rigorous mourning, the Headquarters of the State fell on a small woman who four days later was going to turn 95 years old.
That is why the members of the House of Windsor have conspired to accompany her from now on in official acts. And this Saturday, when Elizabeth II presides over the Trooping the Color ceremony, by her side will be her cousin, the Duke of Kent (85 years old). It does not matter that a year before the queen had already attended the parade of banners with which her birthday is officially celebrated. And that it was not the first time. There is an explicit purpose to support the monarch in resuming her duties, as social restrictions are relaxed. Despite the fact that Buckingham Palace tries these days to emphasize that Elizabeth II is already eager to regain command. It receives this Friday the leaders of the G-7 in Cornwall, and the American Joe Biden on Sunday, in Windsor. But Saturday is the quintessential event.
Trooping the Color has been held for more than 260 years. It was established during the reign of Carlos II. On the second Saturday of every June, the British celebrate their sovereign’s official anniversary (the queen’s birthday is actually April 21, and she celebrates that day in a more private way). More than 1,000 officers and soldiers, two hundred horses and six military bands to display the banners of the various army corps in front of Buckingham Palace. The devotees of the series The Crown (Netflix) will remember the beginning of the fourth season, in which Elizabeth II caresses and reassures her horse before leaving through the main entrance of the palace, mounted on the horsewoman, to be acclaimed by the crowd.
Thirty-six times the queen has thus presided over the ceremony, for which thousands of citizens crowd along the Mall, on the side of Saint James Park that overlooks the Royal Stables. Others opt for a place in the assembled stands, the price of which can exceed fifty euros. In recent years, Elizabeth II watched a show from the official car that always culminated with the greeting from the central balcony of the palace by the most important members of the royal family.
In 2020, everything moved, in a more reduced way, but just as strict, disciplined and elegant, to the quadrangle from Windsor Castle, where Elizabeth II was secluded with her husband since the start of the pandemic. Felipe de Edimburgo, retired years before from public life, did not show himself on that occasion. On Saturday, however, the queen will be accompanied by her cousin Edward, the Duke of Kent. Son of Prince George, the brother of George VI, he is one of the members of the royal family closest to the queen and who has given her the least headaches. He also had a more distant kinship with the husband of Elizabeth II. Much of his life has been dedicated to the army. He entered the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst at age 18, graduating as a second lieutenant, and did not retire until twenty years later.
The Duke of Kent is one of the members of the royal family with a more discreet level, but he continues to participate every year in dozens of official acts on behalf of the queen. He already accompanied her at Trooping the Color in 2013. He has been an active promoter, on behalf of the royal house, of UK Foreign Trade, and has traveled around the world. Two are, however, the things for which he is best known. His intense love of tennis, which leads him to participate every year in the awards ceremony at the Wimbledon Tournament. And his marriage to Katharine Worsley, whom he precisely met at a military base in England. She has earned the qualification of the “most isolated of royalty”, the reclusive royal, because he has fled the public scene, converted to Catholicism and abandoned the Anglican rite of the royal house, and for years secretly taught music to children in a public elementary school. The queen maintains a close relationship with her. The couple live in one of Kensington Palace’s private apartments, and come whenever the monarch needs them. Next Saturday, the Duke of Kent will go again to the side of Elizabeth II to celebrate her 95 years with her.