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.