It is fair to say that Trooping the Colour is a spectacle that is much in demand in London with swaths of camera-clicking tourists lapping up this vibrant ceremony. Trooping the Colour takes place once a year on the Queen’s official birthday in June, on the Horse Guards’ Parade.
The ceremony is all military pomp and splendour, as the Queen checks over the troops of the household cavalry division. Interestingly, Queen Elizabeth II was actually born on 21 April and for some reason known only to the powers of the monarchy, the Queen also has an “official” birthday, which is celebrated on a Saturday in June. This year that Saturday will be the 15th.
1400 soldiers take part in this colourful military pageant, alongside 200 horses. There are over 400 musicians from ten different bands and drum corps. The parade route extends from Buckingham Palace down the Mall to Horse Guards’ Parade, Whitehall and back again.
Since 1987 the Queen has attended the ceremony by carriage, although prior to this she used to always arrive at this highly anticipated event riding a horse side-saddle. In fact the Queen has made a total of 36 appearances on horseback for the Trooping of the Colour.
Precisely as the clock on the horse guards’ building strikes eleven, the royal procession arrives and the Queen does the royal salute. The colours being “trooped” are rotated between different regiments and it is considered to be a special honour to belong to the regiment whose turn it is to have their colour’s trooped.
The Queen wears the uniform of the chosen regiment, which all adds to the colour and charm of this old tradition.
The custom of Trooping the Colour started during the reign of Charles II back in the 17th century. Originally Trooping the Colour was done every day to ensure that the soldiers recognised their own regiments’ colours. The first known mention of a monarch’s birthday being cited at the ceremony was in 1748 and then again in 1760, when George III was king. From the reign of George IV, the Trooping the Colour has been an annual event with a few exceptions during the Great World Wars.
Trooping the Colour is an extravagant traditional custom, which only the British could have come up with! If you are in London on June 152013, then you should certainly mark the Trooping the Colour 2013 down as a “must see” event