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Trooping the Colour 2018

One of the special days in the royal calendar is the Queen’s Birthday Parade, otherwise known as Trooping the Colour.  This year it was the Colour of the 1st Batallion Coldstream Guards that was trooped at Horse Guards Parade, London, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s official birthday (her actual birthday is the 21st April).  I was ready with my camera in time to see it.  Unfortunately, my photos aren’t particularly good because I forgot to close the curtains, thereby giving much clearer and brighter TV screen images. Never mind, I think they still capture something of this annual event.

The first time the Queen attended the birthday parade was as Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and then in 1951 she took the place of her father, King George VI, when he was ill, and in 1952 she was there in her own right as our new Queen Elizabeth II. She acceded the throne on the 6th February 1952 and was crowned Queen on the 2nd June 1953.

Today, the Queen wore an ensemble in sky blue (in this the RAF’s centenary year.)

The event started with the Queen riding to the parade ground in a carriage …

After so many years being accompanied by His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, she now rides on her own to this special ceremony.

A view of The Mall, the ceremonial approach to Buckingham Palace, with union flags on display for the Queen’s official birthday.

Here is the magnificent sight of the massed band.  On parade today were more than 1,400 officers and men, with 200 horses and 400 musicians.  The massed band always starts by playing the march, Les Huguenots, by Meyerbeer.  This is something my late mother loved to see and hear and it always reminds me of her.

On parade today and without a bearskin, instead wearing his turban, was a Sikh soldier …


After being driven in her carriage for part of the ceremony, the Queen sits on a dais under a canopy to watch the parade (she was accompanied here by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent).

Here, the Colour was accepted by the Ensign to the Colour before being trooped, i.e. paraded through the ranks of guardsmen …



When the Colour is marched past Her Majesty, she stands to take the salute.  The Colour is lowered, in salute; this is referred to as a ‘flourish’.

As they march past the Queen, the guardsmen turn towards her, this is their manner of saluting her.

The Colour is very important to the regiment.  The Colour was trooped in this way, in days gone by, so that the officers and men would recognise their Colour in the field of battle; it was a rallying point.

The Colour is richly embroidered with the various battles in which the regiment has taken part.

On stands surrounding Horse Guards Parade were the invited guests, many of them families of the men and women on parade today.

These are the oldest ceremonial uniforms in the British Army, and have seen little change since 1685.  The horses undergo rigourous training for this event, at first the drums are played very softly, and gradually more loudly over a matter of months, until he horses get used to the noise,  and also that of the crowds.   For one of the drum horses it was his first time today, and he behaved impeccably.

One of the most exciting parts of the  whole ceremony is the arrival of the King’s Troop, the Royal Horse Artillery.  You might be interested to know that 50% of the troops are now women!  Yay!

The guns on the gun carriages date from around 1904 and one of them is said to have fired the first round at the battle of the Somme.

Later, these guns are ceremonially fired in Green Park, to celebrate the Queen’s official birthday. They will also be fired in salute tomorrow, for the Duke of Edinburgh’s 97th birthday.

The Queen then leaves the parade ground after the ceremony which takes about an hour and a half …

and makes the return journey up The Mall to Buckingham Palace …

Once the Queen and members of the royal family are assembled at Buckingham Palace they appear on the balcony to see the royal fly past, which always ends with The Red Arrows. I can’t tell you the different aircraft only that there was a Lancaster escorted by a Spitfire and a Hurricane from World War II along with aircraft of today.

I don’t think Prince George and Princess Charlotte were particularly interested, perhaps they’d rather have been playing with their Lego?

The occasion of Trooping the Colour is the royal equivalent of a three-line-whip in Parliament!

And finally, The Red Arrows …

Last Sunday, but then in diamond formation, they flew over our house! 

Until next time.

About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. Margie from Toronto

    I saw a lot of this on the news and then on YouTube and it was as spectacular as always! Actually the little ones loved the flyover – Princess Charlotte got very excited and waved to the planes and her cousin (I believe Savannah) even started conducting the band when they played God Save the Queen – she apparently got told off for that – it’s on YouTube and quite funny to watch!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I’m so glad you saw this morning Trooping the Colour, Maggie. I love this annual event, for me it heralds the start of summer although summer doesn’t officially start until the 21st June (and the end of summer for me, although I hate even to think about that, is the Last Night of the Proms from the Royal Albert Hall in London, that heralds the beginning of autumn.)
      Yes, Princess Charlotte looked to be enjoying it – I didn’t see her cousin, Savannah, conducting. I must look out for that on YouTube!
      It was truly amazing when, last Sunday, the Red Arrows flew over our house, all nine of them, in diamond formation. It took only seconds but my goodness, I shall never forget it. We have seen them regularly for years, as they come and do their aerobatics over Torbay each summer, but last Sunday was the first time they’d flown over our house. The lead plane was in a direct line with my head as I was in the garden, I’ll never forget the roar of those engines.

  2. Margaret, thank you so much for pictures and very interesting comments, I very much enjoyed them.
    I noted that not only the Queen but also Camilla and Kate wore blue. Is it a special colour for RAF?

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Maria, and glad you liked the pictures of Trooping the Colour, taken from the television.
      Royal Air Fore blue is a quite different shade of blue from what the Queen, Camilla and Kate wore. It’s slightly darker and has more grey in it, but I think by wearing blue it was, in a way, their combined tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force. The Army wears khaki-coloured uniforms, the Royal Navy wears dark navy blue, and the Royal Air Force wears air-force blue.

  3. It was indeed a special day Margaret, we got engaged X years ago on the same day so we did our own bit of trooping around a couple of jewellery shops! There was something about this years event that seemed poignant with the Queen on her own so soon after a cataract op and what seemed like a very big family group on the balcony. Just for once the children were behaving like children, so it seemed different but with the precision lead pomp and ceremony happening as usual.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Congratulations on your engagement also on that special day, Heather, x number of years ago! Yes, the Queen cut a lonely looking figure, and perhaps we, the public might’ve thought a lady-in-waiting might’ve accompanied her, but she knows what she wants, I’m sure. She will certainly know the ‘drill’ for Trooping the Colour having attended it on so many occasions, first for her father and than since 1952 as Queen. I thought it was lovely to see all the children behaving like children, too! I love to watch the trooping of the colour, though, it clearly demonstrates just how good we are at this kind of precision and ceremonial.

  4. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    That is so interesting, Margaret. If asked, I’d have known that Trooping the Colour is the Queen’s official birthday celebration but very little else. We do these state occasions so well, don’t we? I ctenophore think that if the peop,e in charge of the organisation and logistics of such events ran the country, we’d be in a lot less of a mess!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, we do state occasions very well, but then, those in charge of such things have had decades if not centuries of practice (the system handed down to each generation.) I recall seeing a programme about the preparations for Trooping the Colour, even how the flags were erected in the Mall, and the clean-up operations before and afterwards, and the police sniffer dogs checking the stands and the route that the procession takes. But the essence of the ceremony is the Colour of whatever regiment is being trooped, i.e. paraded through the ranks so that every man and woman on the parade ground can recognise the Colour. Best of all, I love hearing the massed bands playing, as they do every year, Les Huguenots by Meyerbeer.

  5. Another informative post. Beautiful photographs. Thank you for explaining the significance of the event and the various stags for those of us overseas ! The uniforms are magnificent – as are the horses.


    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I love to see the horses, too. When I was writing about the ceremony, I felt I should have researched it even more, but I just mentioned what I thought were the important facts, such as the reason for ‘trooping’ the colour, i.e. showing the regimental colour (flag) to the troops so they could muster under it in the field of battle. It is a wonderful ceremony, though, quite a spectacle.

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