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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  • Trooping the Colour parade

    The Grenadier Guards during Trooping the Colour at Horse Guards Parade, London.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Household Cavalry during the Colour at Horse Guards Parade, London.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    The Household Cavalry during Trooping the Colour at Horse Guards Parade, London.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    Queen Elizabeth II leaves following Trooping the Colour at Horse Guards Parade, London.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    Queen Elizabeth II (not pictured) leaves followed by Duke of Cambridge, Princess Royal (left) and the Prince of Wales (centre) after Trooping the Colour at Horse Guards Parade, London.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    Prince Harry (4th left) talks to the Duchess of Cornwall (centre) and Duchess of Cambridge (3rd right) as members of the Royal family gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, to watch a flypast of military aircraft following Trooping the Colour.

  • Queen Elizabeth II

    Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, leaves, after attending the Trooping the Colour parade, in London, Saturday, June 15, 2013. Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her birthday with traditional pomp and circumstance _ but without her husband by her side. Prince Philip remains in the hospital, recovering from exploratory abdominal surgery. The queen invited her cousin, the Duke of Kent, to accompany her in a vintage carriage. Other royals — including Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge — joined in the celebration Saturday. More than 1,000 soldiers, horses and musicians are taking part in the parade known as “Trooping the Color,” an annual ceremony. (AP Photo/Anthony Devlin, PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (Left - right) the Earl of Wessex, Countess of Wessex, Lady Louise Spencer, Viscount Severn, Prince of Wales, Princess Royal (partially obscured), Duchess of Cornwall, Duke of York, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry, Duchess of Cambridge, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie, Duke of Kent and Princess Beatrice. gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, to watch a flypast of military aircraft following Trooping the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (Left - right) the Countess of Wessex, Princess Royal, Prince of Wales (partially obscured), Duchess of Cornwall, Duke of York (partially obscured), Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry, Duchess of Cambridge, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice. gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, to watch a flypast of military aircraft following Trooping the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (2nd left - right) Prince Michael of Kent, Princess Michael of Kent the Earl of Wessex, Countess of Wessex, Lady Louise Spencer, Viscount Severn, Princess Royal Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke of York (partially obscured), Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry, Duchess of Cambridge, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie, Duke of Kent and Princess Beatrice. gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, to watch a flypast of military aircraft following Trooping the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    The Red Arrow fly overhear as the Royal family gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, to watch a flypast of military aircraft following Trooping the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (Left - right) the Earl of Wessex, Countess of Wessex, Lady Louise Spencer, Viscount Severn, Prince of Wales (partially obscured), Duchess of Cornwall, Duke of York, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry, Duchess of Cambridge, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie, Duke of Kent and Princess Beatrice. gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, to watch a flypast of military aircraft following Trooping the Colour.

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, centre, surrounded by members of her family, watch a Royal Air Force fly pass by, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, during the Trooping The Colour parade, in London, Saturday, June 15, 2013. Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her birthday with traditional pomp and circumstance _ but without her husband by her side. Prince Philip remains in the hospital, recovering from exploratory abdominal surgery. The queen invited her cousin, the Duke of Kent, to accompany her in a vintage carriage. Other royals — including Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge — joined in the celebration Saturday. More than 1,000 soldiers, horses and musicians are taking part in the parade known as “Trooping the Color,” an annual ceremony. From left, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, Lady Louise, James, Viscount Severn, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Anne, the Princess Royal, Timothy Laurence, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Prince Harry, Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Princess Eugenie. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

  • Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie

    Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, left, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, centre, and Princess Eugenie watch Queen Elizabeth II taking a salute as the Guards march past outside Buckingham Palace, during the Trooping The Colour parade, in London, Saturday, June 15, 2013. Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her birthday with traditional pomp and circumstance _ but without her husband by her side. Prince Philip remains in the hospital, recovering from exploratory abdominal surgery. The queen invited her cousin, the Duke of Kent, to accompany her in a vintage carriage. Other royals — including Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge — joined in the celebration Saturday. More than 1,000 soldiers, horses and musicians are taking part in the parade known as “Trooping the Color,” an annual ceremony. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    The Duke of Duchess of Cornwall gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, to watch a flypast of military aircraft following Trooping the Colour.

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, centre, surrounded by members of her family, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, during the Trooping The Colour parade, in London, Saturday, June 15, 2013. Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her birthday with traditional pomp and circumstance _ but without her husband by her side. Prince Philip remains in the hospital, recovering from exploratory abdominal surgery. The queen invited her cousin, the Duke of Kent, to accompany her in a vintage carriage. Other royals — including Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge — joined in the celebration Saturday. More than 1,000 soldiers, horses and musicians are taking part in the parade known as “Trooping the Color,” an annual ceremony. From left, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, Lady Louise, James, Viscount Severn, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Prince Harry, Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie, and Princess Beatrice. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    The RAF Red Arrows perform a flypast over Buckingham Palace, central London, following the Trooping of the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    The RAF Red Arrows perform a flypast over Buckingham Palace, central London, following the Trooping of the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    The RAF Red Arrows perform a flypast over Buckingham Palace, central London, following the Trooping of the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    Prince Harry (fourth from left), the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Princess Eugenie on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, centre, surrounded by members of her family, watch a Royal Air Force fly past, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, during the Trooping The Colour parade, in London, Saturday, June 15, 2013. Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her birthday with traditional pomp and circumstance _ but without her husband by her side. Prince Philip remains in the hospital, recovering from exploratory abdominal surgery. The queen invited her cousin, the Duke of Kent, to accompany her in a vintage carriage. Other royals — including Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge — joined in the celebration Saturday. More than 1,000 soldiers, horses and musicians are taking part in the parade known as “Trooping the Color,” an annual ceremony. From left, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, Lady Louise, James, Viscount Severn, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, partially obscured, Timothy Laurence, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Prince Harry, Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie, and Princess Beatrice. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

  • Prince Harry, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William

    Britain's Prince Harry, left, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, center, and Prince William, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, during the Trooping The Colour parade, in London, Saturday, June 15, 2013. Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her birthday with traditional pomp and circumstance _ but without her husband by her side. Prince Philip remains in the hospital, recovering from exploratory abdominal surgery. The queen invited her cousin, the Duke of Kent, to accompany her in a vintage carriage. Other royals — including Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge — joined in the celebration Saturday. More than 1,000 soldiers, horses and musicians are taking part in the parade known as “Trooping the Color,” an annual ceremony. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (Left to right) the Duchess of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of York, Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie, Princess Beatrice and the Duke of Kent, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    Prince Harry (fourth from left), the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Princess Eugenie on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (Left to right) Prince Harry, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

  • The RAF Red Arrows perform a flypast over Buckingham Palace, following the Trooping of the Colour parade, in London, Saturday June 15, 2013. Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her birthday with traditional pomp and circumstance _ but without her husband by her side. Prince Philip remains in the hospital, recovering from exploratory abdominal surgery. The queen invited her cousin, the Duke of Kent, to accompany her in a vintage carriage. Other royals — including Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge — joined in the celebration Saturday. More than 1,000 soldiers, horses and musicians are taking part in the parade known as “Trooping the Color,” an annual ceremony. (AP Photo/ Chris Ison/PA )UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (Left to right) Prince Harry, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (Left to right) the Duchess of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of York, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

  • Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William

    Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, second left, arrives on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with Prince Charles, left, Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge to watch the Royal Air Force fly, part of the Trooping The Colour parade, in London, Saturday, June 15, 2013. Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her birthday with traditional pomp and circumstance _ but without her husband by her side. Prince Philip remains in the hospital, recovering from exploratory abdominal surgery. The queen invited her cousin, the Duke of Kent, to accompany her in a vintage carriage. Other royals — including Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge — joined in the celebration Saturday. More than 1,000 soldiers, horses and musicians are taking part in the parade known as “Trooping the Color,” an annual ceremony. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (left to right) the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie, the Duke of York and Princess Beatrice, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (left to right) the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Eugenie, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (Left to right) Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, look up as they watch a flypast, from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

  • Britain's Prince Harry, left, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, center, and Prince William, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, during the Trooping The Colour parade, in London, Saturday, June 15, 2013. Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her birthday with traditional pomp and circumstance _ but without her husband by her side. Prince Philip remains in the hospital, recovering from exploratory abdominal surgery. The queen invited her cousin, the Duke of Kent, to accompany her in a vintage carriage. Other royals — including Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge — joined in the celebration Saturday. More than 1,000 soldiers, horses and musicians are taking part in the parade known as “Trooping the Color,” an annual ceremony. (AP Photo/Dominic Lipinski/PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (left to right) The Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    The RAF Red Arrows perform a flypast over Chelsea, central London, following the Trooping of the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    The RAF Red Arrows perform a flypast over Chelsea, central London, following the Trooping of the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    A Lancaster bomber (top left) performs a flypast over Chelsea, central London, following the Trooping the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    An RAF Voyager (centre), two Typhoons and two Tornados (outer left and right) perform a flypast over Buckingham Palace, central London, following the Trooping of the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    A Tristar (front) and a VC-10 perform perform a flypast over Buckingham Palace, central London, following the Trooping of the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (left to right) the Duchess of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of York, Prince Harry and the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (Left to right) Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    A general view of Buckingham Palace in central London, following the Trooping of the Colour.

  • Trooping the Colour parade

    (Left to right) Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the annual Trooping the Colour parade.