She turned 90 in April — and marked the occasion with celebrations throughout her realm. But as the year of Queen Elizabeth II‘s big birthday draws to a close, he milestone is being honored one final time.
A new photograph of the Queen and Prince Charles was released by the British Monarchy today — taken specifically to commemorate her birthday.
In the portrait, taken by photographer Nick Knight, the Queen sits on a gold chair, wearing a patterned, long-sleeve blue dress. Her hands folded at her waist, she looks elegant and stoic — her three-strand pearl necklace and matching earrings slightly catching the light.
Charles, in a classic bow tie and tuxedo, stands above her to her right. His right arm sits in his pocket and his left on rests on the back of her chair as he looks down below on her.
The photo, shot in May, was staged at the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle — prior to the final night of the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations at the Royal Windsor Horse Pageant.
The Queen, who was born on April 21, 1926, actually has two birthdays.
She marked her milestone birthday in April with a 100-yard walkabout, where she greeted crowds of well-wishers. She then joined her family for a private dinner organized by the Prince of Wales.
While the Queen’s actual birthday tends to be a private affair, it’s also customary to celebrate a sovereign’s birthday publicly on a the second Saturday in June – when the weather is nicer.
Called Trooping the Colour, the tradition is believed to have started during the reign of King George II in 1748. George II was born in October, but the annual ceremony became a celebration of the king – as well as the armed forces.
It’s become the centerpiece of London’s highbrow season of festivities and one of the most spectacular royal events of the year — with more than 1,400 officers, 400 musicians and 200 horses participating in a grand military parade used as a national statement of pageantry.
The royal family typically turns out in full force for the big day, with the men bedecked in military medals and sashes. The women, typically wearing pastel dresses and oversized hats, roll through the streets in carriages. They travel from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade across St. James’s Park where the Queen inspect her troops, receives a royal salute and take a salute of her own.
The royal family — including Prince William, Princess Kate and Prince Harry — then gather on the Buckingham Palace balcony for the final proceedings (and the biggest photo op).