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Pregnant Kate Middleton Makes Final Public Appearance At Queen's Birthday Trooping The Colour Parade (PICTURES)

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The Duchess of Cambridge made her last public appearance before the birth of her first child when she joined thousands of well-wishers to celebrate the Queen's official birthday at the Trooping the Colour parade today.

Wearing a pale pink Alexander McQueen coat and matching hat, Kate, who is eight months pregnant, travelled to the pageant in a carriage with the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry.

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

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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (R) and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, ride in a carriage on their way to the Queen's Birthday Parade, 'Trooping the Colour,'

Other senior royals also arrived in carriages before the Queen made her entrance.

Absent from the event was the Duke of Edinburgh, who is still recovering in hospital from exploratory abdominal surgery.

Instead the Queen invited her cousin, the Duke of Kent, to join her in her glass coach for the short journey from Buckingham Palace along The Mall.

Built in 1881 as a town coach for the Lord Mayor of London, it was purchased for King George V's coronation in 1911.

It has been used for most royal weddings since then, including by the Queen when she married Philip in 1947 when she was still Princess Elizabeth.

Thousands of people, including friends and family of some of the more than 1,000 soldiers taking part, packed into seats and stands around to watch precision marching by hundreds of Guardsmen.

The Queen took the royal salute as members of the royal family looked on.

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 royal tours.

Taking part in the ceremony on horseback are the Prince of Wales - who is Colonel of the Welsh Guards, the Princess Royal - who is Colonel of the Blues and Royals, and the Duke of Cambridge - who is Colonel of the Irish Guards.

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Queen Elizabeth II returns to Buckingham Palace during the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony

The Queen, dressed in a royal blue Angela Kelly coat and hat with a matching lace dress, looked on under cloudy skies which parted now and then to reveal the sun.

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 is the flag of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.

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 - were marching in the parade wearing bearskin hats and red tunics.

The Household Division Bands and Corps of Drums were also taking part, along with the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

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.

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Sophie, Countess of Wessex, left, and Prince Edward, leave Buckingham Palace in a horse drawn carriage

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.

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

After the parade ended, the Queen was cheered by crowds gathered along the Mall as she was driven back to Buckingham Palace.

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