Immaculate rows of red-uniformed, Busby-wearing troops marching in unison across Horse Guards Parade. It can only mean one thing: the annual Trooping the Colour. A visual spectacle harmonising royal pageantry with a military parade, Trooping of the Colour happens each June to mark HRH Queen Elizabeth’s Official Birthday. Located opposite The Royal Mews gates, the opulent Hotel 41 or The Rubens at the Palace are the perfect places to stay if you’re visiting London to witness this most British of traditions.
Not to be confused with The Queen’s actual birthday on 21st April, the ceremony was actually conceived by George II in 1748. His birthday fell in November, so as a way of honouring his birthday with an outdoor ceremony in warmer weather, the Trooping the Colour was born.
Centuries ago, a soldier’s colours were used as a rallying point in battle so the ceremony was a key way for every man to be able to recognise those in his battalion. Regiments would display their flags so they would be familiar with each other’s military colours amongst the battle smoke.
Trooping the Colour begins at Buckingham palace and travels down the Union Jack-lined Mall to Horse Guards Parade. Featuring 200 horses and 200 musicians from six bands as well as over 1000 thousand troops in their smart military regalia, it’s truly a sight to behold. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will drive down in Queen Victoria’s 1842 ivory-mounted phaeton carriage, drawn by a pair of Windsor Grey horses.
The carriage will arrive immediately as Horse Guards Parade’s clock strikes 11am, and HRH will take the Royal Salute. The Inspection of the Line takes place next, with the Queen observing soldiers from the British and Commonwealth armies. Once finished, the Royal carriage leads the parade back to Buckingham Palace. Here, HRH appears at the balcony with her family, while a show stopping RAF flypast soars by overhead.
Multiple coordinated gun salutes take place at midday across the Capital – a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park, 21 gun-salute at Windsor Castle and 62-gun salute at the Tower of London.
There’s no finer way to observe some quintessentially British pomp and ceremony than at the Trooping the Colour ceremony on 17th June 2017.