June 10, 2015
Trooping the Colour – A Royal Birthday Parade
Many of us would love to have a birthday parade with marching bands and soldiers perfectly turned out displaying their marching skills. Trooping the Colour 2015 marked Her Majesty The Queen’s official birthday and also a number of commemorations that included the centenary of the formation of the Welsh Guards and the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo where the Grenadier Guards earned their name. It is as the Duke of Edinburgh stated ‘it is not a “theatrical” production, (sic) it is a deadly serious demonstration of the basic infantry skills for which the British Guards are renowned across the world.’
What is meant by Trooping the Colour? Well, its origins really go back to the Middle Ages when each Lord or Baron flew his banner and required his followers to distinguish him in the midst of battle. The banner or flags (‘Colours’) became a rallying point for soldiers on the battlefield, an important means of visual communication when the troops became disorientated and separated from their battalion. To ensure that the troops recognised their respective Colours, they were displayed regularly including parading the troops and an officer carrying the Colours along the ranks. The Colours also have become a record of the battle honours with names of places where the regiment fought with courage and distinction. The Colours have become sacred icons that are consecrated in a religious ceremony.
Since 1748, Trooping the Colour has incorporated the marking of the Sovereign’s official birthday. It was cancelled during the First World War (1914-18), the Second World War (1940-46) and in 1955 due to a National train strike!
Today (13 June 2015), the Queen arrived in an Ascot Landau carriage to Horseguards accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh; the Royal Procession included The Prince of Wales, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
As is the custom, Her Majesty carried out an inspection of the line of assembled Guards. The preparations for this day take careful planning with regular practice to ensure precision timing and positioning; everything is rehearsed many times to ensure that all will be perfect on the day. Two full dress rehearsals take place – the Major General’s Review and the Colonel’s Review that allows the public a chance to see the resplendent display of the Foot Guards, the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Calvary, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery with musical accompaniment provided by the Massed Bands of the Household Division. A total of 1400 soldiers and 200 horses will participate in the parade.
The parade includes the Collection of the Colour. The Escort for the Colour will be the No 1 Guard of the Prince of Wales Company 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. The junior officer designated to carry the Colour will troop the Colour through the ranks continuing a long held tradition.
The March Past by the foot guards and the Ride Past by the mounted troops present a wonderful display of their disciplined co-ordination and a testimony to the hours of rehearsal required to ensure that the Birthday Parade continues to be a popular event.
On the conclusion of the Parade, Her Majesty returned to Buckingham Palace greeted by cheering crowds lining The Mall. She was joined on the palace balcony by other members of the Royal Family. At 12.52pm precisely the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a 41-gun salute in Green Park. The aerial spectacle that is the Fly Past by the Royal Air Force was grounded due to low cloud cover, but, a spectacular roar in the skies announced the arrival of the RAF Red Arrows-world renowned aerobatic display team. As they flew their Hawk jets in an arrow formation over Buckingham Palace they left their signature trail of red white and blue smoke lingering in the sky, bringing the Queen’s Official Birthday to a wonderful close.
Changing the Guard
If you did not get to see the Trooping the Colour and the procession along The Mall, you might want to consider the Changing the Guard ceremony that takes place at Buckingham Palace. It occurs daily at 11.30 during April to July and alternate days August to March. You will see foot guards from one the five regiments carrying out their duties to guard the Queen. The responsibility for guarding the Sovereign dates back to the time of HVll (1485-1509). If you want to get a good view of the soldiers marching into the Palace, it is advisable to arrive early as it is a very popular event.
Alternatively, you might want to see the Household Mounted Regiment Guard Change. This takes place at Horse Guards Parade. You will see both the Queen’s Life Guard and the Blues and Royals on horseback. Guard change takes place at 11.00 Monday to Saturday, 10:00 on Sunday. It lasts about 30 minutes. The Old Guard returns to Knightsbridge Barracks making their way up the Mall past Buckingham Palace.
Please note The Queen’s Life Guard is provided by Kings Troop RHA from 29th June. If you miss the morning Guard Changes, watch the 4 ‘O’ Clock Parade at Horse Guards. Its formal name is Dismounting Ceremony. It takes place at 16:00 when dismounted sentries are posted and the horses returned to their stables.
For more images from the Colonel’s Review and Trooping The Colour all taken by London Blue Badge Tourist Guide Angela Morgan, check out our Facebook Album posted by Guide London on Monday, 22 June 2015
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