The highlight of the ceremonial calendar, Trooping the Colour, also known as ‘The Queen’s Birthday Parade’, is traditionally held on the second Saturday of June on Horse Guards Parade- behind Whitehall- London. This year it’s the turn of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards to troop their colour in this annual display of music and majesty.
Over 1,400 officers are on parade, with 200 horses, and 400 musicians from the Mass Bands of the Queens personal troops- the Household Division.
Trooping of the Colour has been a tradition of British infantry regiments since the 17th century, but its roots go back much earlier when the trooping of the colours was first performed for military purposes under King Charles II in the 1600s.
Trooping the Colour originated from traditional preparations for battle when a Regiment’s Colour was carried, or “trooped”, down the ranks so that they could be seen and recognised by the soldiers who would use them as a rallying point in the confusion of battle.
Why does Her Majesty the Queen Have Two Birthdays?
Trooping the Colour- aka- The Queen’s Birthday Parade has marked the official birthday of the sovereign since 1748. A tradition that was started by King George II and owes its origins to the ageless problem of the British weather.
George II was born in November and felt the weather would be too cold at that time of year for a birthday parade. So he decided to combine his birthday celebration with an annual military parade. It is a tradition that has continued to this day. All British sovereigns are given the option of having an ‘official’ birthday and, because the Queen’s real birthday is on April 21, she chose to hold her celebration in June each year.
Her Majesty has attended the Trooping of the Colour every year of her reign except for 1955, when the event was cancelled due to a national rail strike. 2018 will be the queen’s 66th birthday parade as sovereign. The monarch for many years attended the ceremony on horseback riding side-saddle, wearing the uniform of the regiment being trooped; however since 1987 she has arrived by carriage.
In 1981 the queen’s mount was startled by Marcus Sarjeant, who fired six blank rounds from a starting revolver. Watch the amazing footage here…
A total of 113 words of command will be given by the Officer in Command of the Parade, whose route extends along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall, before turning back on itself.
Music has always been an integral part of the Trooping of the Colour and more than 400 musicians from ten bands and crops of drums march and play as one.
During the ceremony, the Queen is greeted by a Royal salute and will carry out an inspection of the troops. After the bands have performed a musical ‘troop’, the Regimental Colour will be carried down the ranks. The Foot Guards and Household Cavalry will then march past the monarch while The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, rank past.
Later, Her Majesty join members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch an RAF fly-past.
Trooping the Colour: 360 virtual reality experience – BBC