Pregnant Kate attends Queen's Trooping the Colour Parade before royal birth

Kate Middleton is all smiles as she attends the Queen's Trooping The Colour Parade. Photo: PA

Kate Middleton made her final public appearance before the birth of her first child when she attended the Trooping the Colour parade in occasion of the Queen's birthday.

Wearing a pale pink Alexander McQueen coat and matching hat, Kate, who is eight months pregnant, watched as Prince William took part in the parade on horseback.

The Queen also looked cheerful as she watched the military spectacle, despite the Duke of Edinburgh being unable to attend due to ill health.

He is still recovering in hospital from exploratory abdominal surgery. It is thought to be only the third time that Philip has missed the event after not attending in 1962 and 1968 when he was away on foreign tours.

ITV News correspondent Tom Barton:

Kate, who is due to give birth in mid-July, travelled to the pageant in a carriage with the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry.

The two women had tartan blankets over their knees to keep them warm in the chilly air.

They smiled and waved at the crowds lining the route as the carriage drove to the televised event, which is held every year at Horse Guards Parade in London's Whitehall.

Kate shares a carriage with the Duchess of Cornwall. Credit: PA

Other senior royals also arrived in carriages before the Queen made her entrance, travelling with her cousin, the Duke of Kent, in a glass coach for the short journey from Buckingham Palace and along The Mall.

Thousands of people, including friends and family of some of the more than 1,000 soldiers taking part, packed into seats and stands around the parade ground to watch precision marching by hundreds of Guardsmen under cloudy skies which parted now and then to reveal the sun.

The Queen makes the short journey from Buckingham Palace in a glass coach. Credit: PA

The Queen, dressed in a royal blue Angela Kelly coat and hat with a matching lace dress, took the royal salute as members of the royal family looked on.

They smiled and pointed as they spotted the Prince of Wales, who is Colonel of the Welsh Guards and the Princess Royal, who is Colonel of the Blues and Royals, who were also taking part on horseback.

The Queen attends the parade without the Duke who is still in hospital. Credit: PA

Other royals watching included the Duke of York and his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex with their daughter Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor.

The Colour being paraded on Horse Guards this year was the flag of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.

Prince William attends the parade alongside the Prince of Wales. Credit: PA

The unit has recently returned from operational service in Afghanistan where the troops worked as part of the Afghan Police Advisory Team assisting the country to achieve self governance.

Four of the five Foot Guards regiments of the Household Division - the Welsh Guards, Grenadier Guards, Scots Guards and the Coldstream Guards - marched in the parade wearing bearskin hats and red tunics while the Household Division Bands and Corps of Drums also took part, along with the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

The Queen sits alongside her cousin, the Duke of Kent. Credit: PA

The Queen celebrated her actual birthday on April 21, when she turned 87, but today's ceremony marked her official birthday - which is always in June.

She first took the royal salute in 1951 - when she deputised for her sick father, George VI - and has continued receiving the mark of respect every year except 1955 when there was a national rail strike.

Prince Harry waves to the crowds along the Mall. Credit: PA

The ceremony is also an important social occasion for the Guardsmen taking part and gives their wives, girlfriends and relatives the chance to celebrate their achievements and enjoy the spectacle.

Many of the spectators in the stands overlooking the parade ground were dressed in morning suits or smart suits, while women wore dresses topped with hats and fascinators.

The Queen arrives at Buckingham Palace to be greeted by the troops. Credit: PA

After the parade ended, the Queen was cheered by crowds gathered along the Mall as she was driven back to Buckingham Palace and the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a 41-gun salute in Green Park.

The royals then gathered on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to watch the traditional RAF flypast.

The troops stand as the Queen passes in the annual Trooping the Colour. Credit: PA

Thousands of spectators crowded around the front of the palace and on The Mall, many cheering as a succession of planes roared overhead.

Among the featured 32 aircraft were 13 different types - from the famous Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster aircraft of the RAF Memorial Flight - to modern multi-role Typhoon fighters.

The troops outside Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

The Red Arrows completed the flypast - leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke which swept across the sky behind them.

Trooping the Colour originated from traditional preparations for battle.

The Royal Family gather on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

Colours, or flags, were carried, or "trooped", down the rank so that they could be seen and recognised by the soldiers.

In the 18th century, guards from the royal palaces assembled daily on Horse Guards to "troop the colours", and in 1748 it was announced that the parade would also mark the Sovereign's official birthday.

Prince Harry with Kate and William watch the Red Arrows. Credit: PA
The Red Arrows leave a trail of red, white and blue smoke. Credit: PA
The Red Arrows complete the flypast. Credit: PA