Magnificent salute to 60 glorious years19 MAY 2012
Cheered along the way by a crowd of some 20,000 well-wishers, amid a fluttering of Union flags, the Queen and Prince Philip arrived for a unique event in her reign.
All three branches of the Armed Forces had gathered in Windsor Castle – her favourite residence – for a Diamond Jubilee tribute to their Commander-in-Chief.
Six massed bands and 2,500 troops took part in the parade, known formally as a Muster.
The organiser Air Vice-Marshal Murray said he was to lay on a day the monarch would enjoy.
And there was indeed every sign that the guest of honour was having a splendid time.
Elegant in a turquoise silk, lace and sequinned outfit by her in-house designer Angela Kelly, the Queen looked delighted as she watched the procession with her husband.
The Duke of Edinburgh was in a navy blue uniform of Admiral of the Fleet with the Garter sash.
In fact, with the couple chatting enthustiastically about the display, the proceedings had the feeling of a rather grand family affair.
As well as their own relatives, they were joined by royal guests from around the world, in Britain for a weekend of celebrations that began with a lunch and a splendid evening gala on Friday.
King Carl Gustaf of Sweden, was spotted capturing the moment on his phone, like Prince Andrew.
The parade included a flypast of RAF Typhoons in a diamond formation, and planes also spelt out the number 60 and the letters ER – for Elizabeth Regina, referring to the Latin word for Queen.
The Queen has a personal insight into the sacrifices made by the Forces, as was reflected in her speech praising their service.
Speaking to the crowd from the grandstand, she made reference to the fact that three generations of her family have served with the Forces.
Philip was a wartime naval officer, Andrew served in the Falklands, and Princes William and Harry are currently pilots in the RAF and Army Air Corps respectively.
Her Majesty said: "It is a tradition of very long standing that the sovereign, and members of the royal family, are intimately associated with the armed forces and have been proud to serve in all three services.
"We are very proud of the selfless service, and sacrifices made by servicemen and women and their families in recent years.
"It is very gratifying to celebrate and take pride in successful achievements, but the real test of character is the ability to maintain morale and a positive spirit in bad times as well as when things are going well."
Her speech was greeted with three cheers by the servicemen and women, who thrust their caps into the air as they shouted hooray for the person to whom they owe their ultimate allegiance.
The Queen: A royal life in pictures
Kisses for the Queen's colleagues at Windsor Lunch