2nd June 2018 | London, UK
Trooping the Colour, or Queen’s Birthday Parade, marks the official birthday of the Sovereign.
“Trooping the Colour” was used by ancient British armies to make their troops stick to their units on a battlefield. Flags of different British army regiments were historically known as ‘Colours’, depicting the colours of their uniforms. When different units marched together on a battlefield, the Colours (read Flags) were used as rallying points, so that the troops do not lose track of their units and get separated during the fight. Young officers would march in between the ranks of troops, who would form proper lines, with the Colours held high. This led to the origin of the word ‘trooping’.
What began as an essential mode of communicating and recognising the units, is now a decorated spectacle in the middle of the huge metropolitan city of London.
The Coldstream Guards of the Household Division have been chosen to troop their Colour in between the ranks for this year’s parade, scheduled to be held on 9th June 2018.
It is one of the oldest regiments in the British Army and have been serving as the personal guards of the Sovereign since 1660. They consist of foot guards, horse guards and the Royal Horse Artillery (the King’s Troop)
Every year, one of the five regiments of the foot guards is bestowed upon the opportunity to troop its Colour in between the ranks of guards. The five regiments include- Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards, and Welsh Guards.
“Trooping the Colour” (or Queen’s Birthday Parade) is a traditionally held annual parade in the United Kingdom since 1748. It celebrates the sovereign’s official birthday on a Saturday in the month of June.
The Queen herself attends the parade and takes salutes. Although she celebrates her actual birthday on 21st April, her official birthday is marked by “Trooping the Colour” ceremony.
How is the “Trooping the Colour” carried out?
On the day of the parade Her Majesty travels down the Mall, starting from the royal residence Buckingham Palace, towards the Horse Guards Parade in a procession which is guarded by her Household Cavalry (or horse guards).
The ceremony begins with an inspection by the Queen of her troops from the Household Division. It is followed by a march past the Queen by the entire division, with Her Majesty receiving the salutes from the saluting base. Taking precedence is the Royal Horse Artillery, trotting past with its guns.
The royal procession rides her back to the Buckingham Palace where she receives a final salute from the troops. The ceremony ends with the Queen, along with other members of the Royal Family, enjoying a Royal Air Force flypast from the palace balcony.
How did “Trooping the Colour” ceremony originate?
After the English Civil War, monarchy was restored in the year 1660 when King Charles II acceded to the throne. The first ceremony is believed to have been organised during his reign of 15 years.
It was not until 1748 that it began to mark the sovereign’s official birthday. George III, after becoming the King in 1760, made it an annual event.
King Edward VII (1901-1910) moved the parade to its June date, due to the unpredictability of British weather. Since then, “Trooping the Colour” ceremony has been held every year in the month of June except for a few exceptions, and more significantly the two World Wars. It during his reign that the sovereign began taking the salutes in person.
From 1979 to 2017, the parade had been organised on the Saturday between 11 and 17 June. This year, however, the celebration has been scheduled in the previous week, on 9th June 2018.
The first rehearsal- the “Major General’s Review”- which usually takes place two weeks before the actual parade, was done on 25th May 2018. While the second rehearsal (carried out one week before the actual parade), known as the “Colonel’s Review”, was conducted on 2nd June 2018.