The Queen has marked her official birthday with the pomp and pageantry of the famous Trooping the Colour ceremony – but also acknowledged the “succession of terrible tragedies” in recent weeks.

Under blue skies and brilliant summer sunshine the Queen watched the centuries-old military spectacle of might, splendour and precision marching on Horse Guards Parade, Henry VIII’s former jousting yard.

Soldiers ahead of the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade. (Jonathan Brady/PA)Soldiers ahead of the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade. (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The event is an important day in the Armed Forces’ calendar where the families and friends of the officers and soldiers on parade, proudly watch the ceremony.

But with the nation reeling from the Grenfell Tower block inferno that has so far claimed 30 lives and the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, the Queen issued a message on her official birthday to recognise the feelings of many.

Ladies arrive for the Trooping the Colour ceremony. (Soldiers ahead of the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade. (Jonathan Brady/PA)Ladies arrive for the Trooping the Colour ceremony. (Soldiers ahead of the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade. (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Before the Queen arrived the wives, girlfriends and other relatives of the men on the parade ground rose as one to observe a minute’s silence for the victims of the fire.

The Queen's Birthday Flypast over Buckingham Palace (Cpl Tim Laurence/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA)The Queen’s Birthday Flypast over Buckingham Palace (Cpl Tim Laurence/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA)

The Queen said in her message: “Today is traditionally a day of celebration. This year, however, it is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood. In recent months, the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies.

The Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Cambridge arrive. (Jonathan Brady/PA)The Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Cambridge arrive. (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“As a nation, we continue to reflect and pray for all those who have been directly affected by these events.”

A cheer from the hundreds gathered in nearby St James’s Park and The Mall had signalled the Queen’s carriage procession was approaching, with the monarch riding in an Ascot Landau with the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Queen makes her way down The Mall from Buckingham Palace. (Jonathan Brady/PA)The Queen makes her way down The Mall from Buckingham Palace. (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A few minutes earlier the Duchess of Cambridge, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry had travelled together in another carriage, while in a third was the Duke of York with his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and the Earl of Wessex.

Soldiers with a Standard ahead of the Trooping the Colour. (Jonathan Brady/PA)Soldiers with a Standard ahead of the Trooping the Colour. (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The Prince of Wales, who is Colonel of the Welsh Guards, the Princess Royal, Colonel of the Blues and Royals, and the Duke of Cambridge, Colonel of the Irish Guards, were on horseback.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh during Trooping the Colour (Jonathan Brady/PA)The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh during Trooping the Colour (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said the Countess of Wessex did not attend as she had a private engagement.