December 16, 2012

Trooping the Colour

"Trooping the Colour" is the military parade that takes place in London each year to honor the British Queen's birthday. It is also known as the Queen's Birthday Parade. While not the actual head of government, the Queen of England is known as a constitutional monarch and is the official head of state. Her real birthday is in April, but Trooping the Colour takes place in June. This has long been the tradition regardless of the monarch's real birthday to ensure good weather for the parade. The date varies from year to year, though it is always on a Saturday.

The tradition goes back to the reign of Charles II the 1700s. It started as a way for soldiers to identify their regiment during battle. Each regiment had its own Colour, a flag held in the center of a regiment. The earliest record of Trooping the Colour is from 1748. Upon George III's ascension to the throne twelve years later, annual parades for his birthday were ordered. For several years in the early 1800s there were parades on both the King and Queen's birthdays; however, there were no parades in the 1810s due George III's illness. When George IV became King in 1820, the parades became an annual event to honor the monarch's birthday, except during the two World Wars.

Over 1400 people participate in Trooping the Colour. The Household Guards are the Queen's personal troops and have the honor of participating in the parade; they consist of both Horse Guards and Foot Guards. There are five regiments of Guards: Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards, and Welsh Guards. The latter two did not exist until the early 1900s, according to The five regiments take turns being the ones to troop the Colour.

The ceremony begins around 10:00 in the morning, when the Queen and other members of the royal family parade from Buckingham Palace, along the Mall, to Horse Guard's Parade and Whitehall. Prior to 1986, the Queen arrived on horseback. Since then, she has arrived in a carriage. She wears the uniform of the regiment whose Colour will be trooped.

The Royal Procession arrives promptly at eleven and the Queen takes the Royal Salute from the Guards. She then drives down the ranks of Guards, inspecting them. Large bands play patriotic songs. The Regimental Sergeant Major walks behind the Escort for the Colour and receives the Colour from the Sergeant of the Colour Party. The Ensign for the Colour salutes the Colour, receives it from the RSM, and carries the Colour through the ranks, following behind the Escort, who has become the Escort to the Colour upon the receiving of the Colour. The Foot Guards march past the Queen and the Colour is lowered in salute. The Horse Guards follow. The Queen and her Guards return to Buckingham Palace. The Royal Family stands on the balcony to watch an RAF flypast. A 41-gun salute is fired in Green Park opposite the Palace. More information on this procedure can be found at

Trooping the Colour 2012: credits to

In order to sit in the stands around Horse Guards Parade during Trooping the Colour, one must submit an application. Applications for tickets should be sent in January or February. Applicants will be informed in March whether they will receive tickets. People who were not lucky enough to receive tickets for the stands stand along the Mall to watch the ceremony from a distance.

The Queen usually celebrates her real birthday privately, though it is marked with a gun salute. On her real 80th birthday in 2006, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated by walking in the streets around Windsor Castle and greeting people, according to

Birthday shoutouts to Uncle Mark

1 comment:

  1. Very informative! I didn't know they had so much pomp and circumstance for celebrating the British monarch's birthday. It must be quite a spectacle to see!