Trooping of the Colour is the most waited event in June and one of the most important ones of the whole year. Lets find out the important staff: When, Where, How and What?
What is the Trooping of the Colour?
It’s an annual military event which has a long history and aims to familiarize the soldiers with other battalion’s flags (colours). The flags were very important in the past, soldiers needed to protect them with their lives. During battle it was crucial for them to know where their unit is and they needed to do this fast. This is how this tradition was started. They were trooping (showing) their colours so other units can be familiar with them. This was happening way more often in the past but nowadays it is reduced to once a year.
Also, since 1748 this ceremony marks the Official Birthday of the Monarch. Why? The monarch at that time was King George II and he was misfortunate to has his birthday in November. He thought it is too cold for his subjects to celebrate and not risking them catching a cold, in order to enjoy this event even more, he combined the Trooping of the colour with his birthday. Tradition stays with the exception of the times during the two World Wars. Queen Elizabeth II moved it on Saturdays so more people can attend the event.
What is happening on the day?
This is a huge event with a lot of preparation throughout the year which needs rehearsals. And here they are… there are always two rehearsals (on the Saturdays) before the event comes. The first rehearsal is known as The Major General’s Review and usually takes place two weeks before the actual Birthday Parade. The second rehearsal is known as The Colonel’s Review and usually takes place a week before the actual Birthday Parade.
At around 10 AM troops and musicians start to march on the Mall (the street with the red surface) from Buckingham Palace towards Horse Guards Parade (the event takes place there). They come in separate groups (not all at once) with small gaps in between and at the end it is time for the Queen to take the same road. She used to come on a horse but since 1987 she comes on a carriage due to her advanced age. As the clock at Horse Guards Parade strikes 11 AM she should be at the place. The Queen then goes around the troops (with her carriage!) and inspects them. She then takes her place on a podium, the colour is trooped (shown), the troops march in front of the Queen and everybody goes back to the Palace from the same way.
The Royal family then goes out on the balcony. The space in front of the Palace is full with people, cheering, and at 1 PM the Royal Air Force (RAF) makes a fly-past (few airplanes come one after another, with small intervals in between each other, just like the troops, and the last ones leave the blue, red and white colours behind them.
When and Where can I see it?
The main event usually takes place on the Saturday of the week 11-17 June. Rehearsals are one and two weeks before the event.
If you are willing to watch this event you will have 3 options:
- The first one is a FREE one but requires patience from your side. Usually if you go around 9 AM you will be able to find yourself a nice spot. Where? If you go and stand on any of the both sides of The Mall you will see the troops marching and also the Queen passing by. If you go at St. James Park and stand like you are facing the Horse Guards Parade you will have a clear view of what is happening… until the King’s troops block your view almost before the beginning of the actual ceremony. What you need to know about the King’s troops is that they are on horses and they are many which means your view will be very well blocked. They also “carry” with them 6 First World War-era field guns. The good news is that at some point of the ceremony they join the event and go together with the troops which will clear your way.
- Second option is also for FREE and it’s probably the laziest one. BBC broadcasts the event each year and usually they start at 10 AM.
- The third option will bring you closes to the atmosphere. You can go and have a sit at the Horse Guards Parade. Did you notice? The magical word “FREE” did not find space here. You can request tickets until February the same year and they are as follow: Colonel’s Review- £10.00; Trooping the Colour- £35.00; The Major General’s Review is for FREE 🙂 You can purchase up to 3 tickets per person!
How the Trooping of the Colour in 2017 went?
Big celebrations, as usual. Here are the numbers: 1400 soldiers and men on the parade, 400 musicians, 200 horses and sadly, 5 soldiers fainted. This is a usual thing. It can get pretty hot in these uniforms and combined with the bearskin hats it surely is a nightmare. Nobody ever moves to help the ones who faint! There are soldiers outside the parade who come in with a stretcher and take the guy away. This is not the first time, surely won’t be the last!
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Short video version of this article ⬇️⬇️⬇️
Short video recap on Trooping of the Colour 2017 ⬇️⬇️⬇️