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Prince William takes center stage at Queen Elizabeth II’s jubilee rehearsal

Britain's Prince William salutes at the Horse Guards Parade in London on May 28. (Neil Hall/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

LONDON — There were 1,500 soldiers, 350 horses and 7,000 guests.

In a sea of bright red military uniforms, including bearskin caps, Prince William, on horseback, inspected the Irish Guards, an Irish infantry regiment that is part of the British Army.

While the display of pomp and pageantry unfolding in London on Saturday was extensive, it was just a 90-minute rehearsal.

The rehearsal — led by William, second in line to the British throne and the third-oldest grandchild of Queen Elizabeth, from atop a black horse named George — was staged just a few days before Thursday’s ceremony, known as Trooping the Colour. It’s held annually to mark the queen’s official birthday, which is in June, but this year it also kick-starts a string of events celebrating her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne.

The 96-year-old monarch usually takes the salute at the ceremony, but it remains unclear how involved the queen will be this year. Other royals, including heir to the throne Prince Charles, have stepped in to help support the queen at various events this year.

If the queen passes these ceremonial duties to another royal family member Thursday, it will be the first time in her reign she has done so, the Sunday Times reported.

William has also served as colonel of the Irish Guards since 2011. Soldiers from the regiment guard the royal family and its palaces, but they are also deployed all over the world.

“Keep in mind that the Guards are still first and foremost fighting soldiers,” the regiment tweeted last week. “We have the capability of being dual role Soldiers and must be operationally ready at all times.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Prince William’s place in the order of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren. He is the third-oldest grandchild, not the eldest. This article has been corrected.