The scene led me to ponder the origins of this custom. Tonight with the photo above in mind, I checked out "umbrella"on WikiPedia ( know, I know, by its very nature it's a fallible source), but veracity aside, I really enjoy it.. You can read the whole thing yourself at WP, but here's a slightly hacked quote:
The...umbrella (was) invented...in ancient China, roughly 1,700 years ago. The Chinese character for umbrella is 傘 (san) ...a pictograph resembling the modern umbrella... (The) tradition(of carrying an umbrella) ...originated in ...banners waving in the air, (and) the use of the umbrella was often linked to high ranking (though not necessarily royalty) in China."
I myself thought it was something more simple, like keeping out of the sun.