On June 15, London will once again play host to the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony. A vibrant military march combining grandeur, glitz and Grenadiers, the ceremony sees thousands of Londoners and visitors alike line The Mall, the famed road connecting Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square, each year. Here’s our bite-size guide to what makes it such a spectacle.
Trooping the Colour is a centuries-old military display by regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies. It was first used in 1748 to mark the official birthday of the sovereign – a role it maintains to this day. Although born in April, Queen Elizabeth II has her official birthday on a Saturday in mid-June – a season-swapping tradition begun by her great-granddad Edward VII, who was born in November but celebrated in the summer to ensure clement weather – and will mark the occasion by traveling down The Mall from Buckingham Palace in a colorful procession, escorted by the Household Cavalry.
After receiving the royal salute, the Queen will inspect members of the Household Division. One pre-selected battalion of the Foot Regiments – this year, it’s the First Battalion Welsh Guards – will then begin to ‘troop its color’ (walk its banner) through the ranks; followed by other guards marching past the Queen in slow and quick time. This parade is accompanied by a mass of military drummers, brass bands and pipers – some 400 musicians altogether – making for an ear-splittingly boisterous display.
Finally, the Queen will lead the remaining foot guards back down The Mall, allowing the onlookers to see the various uniforms, banners and insignia of the different regiments of Britain’s armed forces. She will then venture inside the Palace, to the soundtrack of a 41-gun salute, only to emerge on the balcony moments later, with other members of the Royal Family, to witness a Royal Air Force flypast.
The Prime Positioning
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation at Westminster Abbey, which means competition for places is fierce. All official invitations and seated-stand tickets are long gone, but you are free to join the public throngs lining The Mall. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. (ending at 1 p.m.), but for a realistic chance of securing a good view you should aim to get there around 7 a.m.
Alternatively, you could tune into BBC Television from your own room at nearby Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotels The Goring or 51 Buckingham Gate Taj Suites and Residences and enjoy the entire ceremony from the comfort of an armchair. That way, you can be certain you won’t miss shots of the Queen, or any close-ups of Kate’s baby bump.
Photos courtesy of iStock and Oversnap