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Princess Catherine’s impressive style in her first public appearance marking her return from cancer

The Princess of Wales' last-minute appearance at the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London was a “wonderful surprise,” after months out of the public eye as she battled cancer.

LONDON — On King Charles III’s official birthday, all eyes were on Kate, the Princess of Wales.

Kate, 42, made her return to the public eye Saturday as part of the Trooping the Colour ceremony, her first official appearance since she revealed her cancer diagnosis earlier this year.

On a drizzling Saturday morning in London, she was seen smiling in a horse-drawn carriage with her three children as the procession made its way from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade. Prince Louis, 6, was captured waving to the crowds from the carriage window.

Katie Nicholl, an NBC News royal contributor, said Kate’s appearance was a “wonderful surprise” after months without a public appearance.

Kate was later seen on the balcony at Buckingham Palace with Prince William, Charles, and Queen Camilla.

Kate, Princess of Wales, Prince Louis of Wales and Princess Charlotte of Wales during Trooping the Colour at Buckingham Palace on June 15, 2024 in London, England.
Kate with her children Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, and Prince George inside the Glass State Coach Saturday. Along with their mother, the children have also largely been out of the public eye in recent months.Chris Jackson / Getty Images

The annual military ceremony celebrates the British monarch’s official birthday, with Charles also in attendance after his cancer diagnosis.

“Most of us are surprised that she is here today,” Nicholl said. “We know that as the King and the Princess of Wales have gone through this cancer journey together, they’ve very much been supporting each other behind the scenes. Well this is the ultimate show of support.”

As the ceremony began, a convoy of royal carriages left the palace with the King and Queen escorted by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, before Charles carried out the ceremonial review of the guardsmen and officers from his carriage.

Charles then received a royal salute from service members outside Horse Guards Parade as the British national anthem blared over speakers. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty, were among the crowds gathered to watch.

The traditional show of military pomp and pageantry featured soldiers marching in scarlet coats and bearskin fur hats accompanied by music played by military bands.

Trooping the Colour is a ceremonial parade celebrating the official birthday of the British Monarch. The event features over 1,400 soldiers and officers, accompanied by 200 horses. More than 400 musicians from ten different bands and Corps of Drums march and perform in perfect harmony.
The Royal carriage on the Mall during Trooping the Colour at Buckingham Palace. Chris Jackson / Getty Images
Trooping the Color is the King's Birthday Parade and one of the nation's most impressive and iconic annual events attended by almost every member of the Royal Family.
Kate joined members of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the ceremony. James Manning / AP

Charles inspected the troops on horseback at his first official birthday parade last year, reviving a tradition that his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, gave up in 1986 when she was 60.

This year, William was on horseback, alongside his uncle Prince Edward, and aunt, Princess Anne.

Among the 242 horses that took part in the ceremony are Tennyson, Vanquish and Trojan, three of the five elite military horses that broke lose in April and galloped riderless through miles of downtown London. They have been nursed back to good health, while the other two, Quaker and Vida, are continuing their recovery.

With inspections complete, Charles and Camilla returned to Buckingham Palace amid lightning, thunder, and a summer rain that soaked the crowds.

They then gathered with their family on the balcony at the end of the event to watch a flyover by the Royal Air Force, which took place just as the inclement weather cleared.

In a statement on Friday, Kate shared an update on her cancer treatment, writing that she was “not out of the woods yet” and that she had “good days and bad days.” She said she was “making good progress,” but that her treatment would continue for a few more months.

Her attendance at Saturday’s parade was seen as a significant positive step after a monthslong absence that fueled widespread speculation.

Kate and Prince William’s children, George, 10, Charlotte, 8, and Louis, 5, have also largely been out of the public eye in recent months. They joined her at Saturday’s event, arriving with her in a carriage down the Mall before watching alongside her on the Horse Guards Parade grounds.

Also known as the King’s Birthday Parade, the ceremony has been an annual event since 1760. It is the British military’s annual tribute to the monarch and marks their official birthday.

Charles’ actual birthday is Nov. 14.

Royal fans hold up cut-out pictures of Britain's King Charles III and Kate, Princess of Wales as they gather in the Mall ahead of the start of the Trooping the Color ceremony in London, Saturday, June 15, 2024.
Royal fans hold up cut-out pictures of King Charles and Kate, as they gather in the Mall ahead of the Trooping the Colour ceremony on Saturday.Alberto Pezzali / AP

Charles, who himself was diagnosed with cancer in February, has also been undergoing treatment. Doctors discovered the disease after he was hospitalized with an enlarged prostate, although the palace has said that he does not have prostate cancer.

Both Charles and Kate have declined to specify what type of cancer they have or details about their prognoses.

The 75-year-old monarch has attended several engagements since he resumed public duties last month, including D-Day memorial services in France.

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