Origins of Trooping the Colour

 
  • Author
  • EJ Ward
  • June 10,2017
 

Marking the Queen's official birthday, this annual event features hundreds of officers, horses and musicians from the Household Division in ceremonial uniform. 

 

 

Regimental flags of the British Army were historically described as ‘Colours’ because they displayed the uniform Colours and insignia worn by the soldiers of different units. The name ‘Colour’ continues to be used to this day. The principal role of a regiment’s Colours was to provide a rallying point on the battlefield. This was important because, without modern communications, it was all too easy for troops to become disoriented and separated from their unit during conflict.

 

If Troops were to know what their Regiment’s Colours looked like, it was necessary to display them regularly. The way in which this was done was for young officers to march in between the ranks of troops formed up in lines with the Colours held high. This is the origin of the word ‘trooping’. So, what today is a great tradition began life as a vital and practical parade designed to aid unit recognition before a battle commenced.

 

The Guards are amongst the oldest regiments of the British Army and have served as the personal bodyguards of The Sovereign since the monarchy was restored after the English Civil War in 1660. The ceremony of Trooping the Colour is believed to have been performed first during the reign of King Charles II (1660 – 1685). In 1748, it was decided that this parade would be used to mark the official birthday of the Sovereign and it became an annual event after George III became King in 1760.

 

Today, this colourful spectacular remains a celebration of the Sovereign’s official birthday. Although Her Majesty The Queen’s actual birthday is the 21st April, her ‘official birthday’ is marked by the Trooping the Colour ceremony.

 

What Happens On The Day

 

The Queen herself attends the ceremony. She is first escorted in a carriage from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade. There, she carries out an inspection of her troops, before leading her Guards in a parade back down The Mall to Buckingham Palace. Once at the palace, the Queen takes the salute, and guns are fired in Green Park and at the Tower of London. Finally she joins other members of the Royal Family on the palace balcony to watch the Royal Air Force fly-past.

 

Events begin around 10am and the RAF fly-past takes place at 1pm.

 





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