The sweet surprise that even King Charles wasn't expecting at Trooping the Colour - and the touching throwback to the late Queen

King Charles received a very special surprise during his first ever Trooping the Colour

King Charles received a special surprise during his first Trooping the Colour
(Image credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Everybody loves a birthday surprise, or that’s what the Red Arrows believe. The Red Arrows - officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – managed to surprise the king himself at his first ever Trooping the Colour birthday parade as reigning monarch, as the flypast flew in formation spelling out Charles’ insignia. The CR formation represented Charles Rex, and it was a touching gesture to make up for the downsized flyover at the Coronation.

Trooping the Colour 2023 has come to an end – and it was truly one for the history books.

It was always going to be a memorable one, after all, it is the first birthday parade for the sovereign following the death of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

There were also plenty of other memorable ‘firsts.’

To start with, it was Charles’ first birthday parade – and the first year he had two birthdays, a tradition dating back to 1748 when George II moved his birthday celebration to the much warmer summer months.

The RAF flypast spelt out CR - King Charles' insignia

(Image credit: Rob Pinney/Getty Image)

Princess Catherine – who wore a symbolic green dress – made history alongside Queen Camilla (in a silk red coat dress), as the pair joined the King in reviewing the Horse Guard for the first time.

It was also the first time Prince Edward took part on horseback during the parade, cementing his new position as the Duke of Edinburgh. Duchess Sophie wore a cream outfit as she watched her husband proudly.

And another first was a detail being added as a surprise to the monarch.

King Charles received a very special present from the Royal Air Force, as 18 typhoon planes joined the flypast over Buckingham Palace and spelled out CR, in tribute to his insignia (Charles Rex).

The special honor was kept secret from the king, and it’s reportedly because those responsible wanted to make up for the coronation disappointment which resulted in a downsized flyover.

Fans online have dubbed the special surprise as “exceptional,” “spectacular” and left them “with chills.”

The other touching reason this surprise might mean a lot to King Charles is the subtle full circle moment it represents.

A then-Prince Charles was delighted by the flyover at the late Queen's coronation

(Image credit: Bettmann/Getty)

At the coronation of his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth, an iconic image captured the young Prince Charles absolutely delighted by the flypast that was done in honor of his mom.

The young Prince was photographed on the balcony giddily pointing out all the planes flying over.

Now, as he settles into his first ever King’s birthday parade, he is the recipient of his own special flypast.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.