The rehearsal — led by William, the eldest grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and second in line to the British throne, from atop a black horse named George — was staged just a few days before Thursday’s ceremony, known as “Trooping the Colour.” It’s held annually to mark the queen’s official birthday, which is in June, but this year it also kick-starts a string of events celebrating her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne.
The 96-year-old monarch usually takes the salute at the ceremony, but it remains unclear how involved the queen will be this year. Other royals including heir to the throne Prince Charles and his eldest son William have stepped in to help support the queen at various events this year as she struggles with her mobility amid public concerns about her health.
If the queen passes these ceremonial duties to another royal family member Thursday, it will be the first time in her reign she has done so, the Sunday Times reported.
William has also served as colonel of the Irish Guards since 2011. While soldiers from the regiment guard the royal family and its palaces, they are also deployed all over the world.
“Keep in mind that the Guards are still first and foremost fighting soldiers,” the regiment tweeted last week. “We have the capability of being dual role Soldiers and must be operationally ready at all times.”