On Saturday, Meghan Markle will attend her first Trooping the Colour, the Queen’s annual birthday parade. The event marks one of the most anticipated royal engagements of the year, and will include the newly minted Duchess of Sussex’s first appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony with the entire royal family.
Meghan’s sister-in-law Kate Middleton attended her first Trooping the Colour two months after her April 2011 wedding to Prince William (she was still sporting her post-honeymoon tan!). But the balcony appearance during the annual celebration wasn’t Kate’s first — she and William shared a memorable first kiss as husband and wife on the palace balcony on their wedding day.
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For her first official ceremonial event as a royal, Kate wore a double-breasted cream jacket by Alexander McQueen (her wedding dress designer!) and a black hat. She traveled from Buckingham Palace to the Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall in a horse-drawn carriage, waving and smiling to the crowds on London’s Mall.
Prince William was not by her side, as he was participating as an honorary colonel on horseback, so Kate rode with Camila Parker Bowles, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew. (Harry doesn’t ride with his brother and dad, Prince Charles, on horseback since he’s not a royal colonel of the of the Household Division.)
During the Horse Guards Parade, Kate watched Queen Elizabeth take the salute and review her immaculate troops as the Colour, a regimental flag, was paraded in the ceremony, which dates back to the 18th century. Kate, now a mother of three, waved from the carriage on her way back to Buckingham Palace, where the whole royal family watched a flyover by military aircraft.
Though she is on maternity leave, Kate, 36, will still be attending this year’s Trooping the Colour with Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 3, but Prince Louis, born April 23, will not be in attendance.
And she’ll no doubt have a few words of advice for Meghan as she steps onto the balcony for the very first time. The royal sisters-in-law have already begun to lean on each other.
“I’m sure Kate will do all she can to help Meghan,” a source in Kate’s hometown of Bucklebury recently told PEOPLE, while noting that in the early years of her romance with Prince William, Kate herself was mentored by Queen Elizabeth. “She had audiences with Queen Elizabeth quite often and was taught to behave like a future Queen.”