Join us in celebrating the official birthday of the British Sovereign for over 260 years as we go BuckingHAM on the palace annually on the second Saturday of June with the Trooping the Colour ceremony, taking place on June 11 this year. This two-century-old impressive display of pageantry is a grandiose parade with the Queen’s troops, The Household Division, on Horse Guards and Her Majesty the Queen herself attending and taking the salute. Over 1400 officers and men are on parade, together with 200 horses, and over 400 musicians playing as one. The Queen travels down The Mall from Buckingham Palace in a royal procession with a sovereign’s escort of the Household Cavalry. For those wishing to witness it, the parade is broadcast live on the BBC and in the U.K.
History of Trooping The Colour
A regiment’s colors embody its spirit and great service to the home it represents, as well as its fallen soldiers. On the battlefield, a regiment’s colors, or flags, were used as rallying points. Regiments would also have their ensigns slowly march with their colors between the ranks to enable soldiers to recognize their regiment’s colors. The loss of a color, or the capture of an enemy color, were respectively considered the greatest shame, or the greatest glory on a battlefield. Trooping the Colour is an old ceremony in which battalions would participate by their respective companies and each color party would ‘troop’ or march their colors through the ranks so that every soldier would see that the colors were intact. This was done before and after every battle. This ceremony has been retained through time and is largely ceremonial today.
Since 1748, Trooping the Colour has also been known as the mark for the official birthday of the British sovereign. This day also coincides with the “Government Gazette” publication of the ‘Birthday Honours’ list, which marks the reigning British monarch’s official birthday by granting various individuals appointment into national or dynastic orders, or the award of decorations and medals. Birthday Honours is one of two annual honors lists, along with the New Year Honours. Trooping the Colour allows the troops of the Household Division to pay a personal tribute to the sovereign with great pomp and pageantry. Crowds lining the route and in St. James’s Park listen to music performed by both massed and mounted bands.
Trooping The Colour timeline
After King Charles II performs the first Trooping the Colour during his reign, it is decided that this parade will be used to mark the official birthday of the sovereign.
Due to the illness of King George III, the custom of Trooping the Colour is suspended.
There is no Birthday Honors list, which brings a good deal of disappointment.
From King Edward VII’s reign and on, the sovereign joins in taking part in the salute in person.
Queen Elizabeth II rides into Trooping the Colour on her horse Burmese for the last time — at all Trooping the Colour events following this, she travels in a carriage of the Royal Mews.
Trooping The Colour FAQs
How do I get tickets for Trooping the Colour?
Seated tickets are purchased by ballot only and are closed months before the event.
Where can I watch Trooping the Colour?
Those without tickets to the seated stands can choose a spot on The Mall or the edge of St. James’s Park overlooking the Horse Guards.
What do you wear for Trooping the Colour?
This is a formal military parade and those attending are encouraged to look smart. Think a lounge suit or jacket, tie, and trousers, and the equivalent for ladies (no denim, shorts, or sandals.)
HOW TO CELEBRATE
Go and see it!
Plan a trip and go see the parade live in person! Witness the extraordinary annual event yourself and celebrate this exciting tradition.
Watch it live
Watch on BBC or live-stream it on a number of websites and see the wonderful spectacle in real-time!
Throw a watch party!
Get your friends together who love the royal family and take part in this centuries-old tradition.
5 FACTS ABOUT TROOPING THE COLOUR
The balcony elite
The balcony is a big deal and its attendees tend to vary, however, it always includes the monarch and his or her spouse, plus the first- and second in line to the throne, along with their spouses.
First time on the balcony
Queen Victoria was the first monarch to utilize the balcony as a way to greet her subjects.
The people’s princess
Princess Diana took part in her first Trooping the Colour and rode with Prince Andrew in a carriage while her husband-to-be, Prince Charles, rode on horseback.
Treason at the trooping
The same day Princess Diana first attended Trooping the Colour, Queen Elizabeth II, then 55, was riding horseback on her way to the ceremony when 17-year old Marcus Simon Sarjeant fired pistol blanks at her.
Carrying the colors
Only battalions of infantry regiments of the line carry colors. Rifle regiments did not form a line and thus never carried colors. Their battle honors are carried on their drums. The exception to this is the Honourable Artillery Company, which has both a stand of colors and guns.
WHY WE LOVE TROOPING THE COLOURS
We value tradition
The Trooping of the Colours is a centuries-old tradition that is a dignified celebration of progress and military service. Because it embodies the spirit of a nation and honors the living and fallen soldiers, we feel it’s important to recognize this day.
We love the royal family
From fashion and pageantry to history, the royal family is always an entertaining spectacle of sophistication and wealth.
We respect soldiers
This day honors the great service the military has done for us and we recognize the nobility and bravery in those men and women who dedicate their lives to the service.
Trooping The Colour dates