Trooping the Colour
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Although Queen Elizabeth II was actually born in April, it is the tradition in Britain to celebrate the monarch’s birthday in June, when good weather can more reasonably be expected. The event is marked by the spectacle known as Trooping the Colour. Trooping the Colour is a large scale parade undertaken in front of the Queen by active and serving members of the Household Division (comprised of Foot Guards and Household Cavalry ).

The parade takes place on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall and involves the sovereign personally taking the salute of the Guards. This has been the case since the reign of Edward VII , although the practice of holding the parade to commemorate the monarch’s official birthday dates back to around 1748 and the reign of George II . Trooping the Colour itself can be trace back to the reign of Charles II in the 17th century, but the earliest record of it being used specifically as a celebration of the monarch’s birthday is from 1748.

The Trooping of the Colour starts when an orderly crosses the parade ground to take the pace stick from the RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major), who then draws his sword. This is significant as it is the only time an RSM will draw a sword on a parade ground during peace time. The symbolic drawing of the sword represents the RSM protecting the colour of the regiment. Traditionally, the band will now play the tune for the British Grenadiers (who once flanked every regiment in the British army) and the various factions begin the march away from the parade ground. The RSM receives the colour and presents it to the parade ground. The troops then present arms to the National Anthem and the marching continues. One of the highlights to watch for is the Massed Bands performing the complex spin wheel manoeuvre. This manoeuvre is not written down in any training or drill manual, but is passed from troop to troop by memory alone.

The troops continue their march in the specific formations handed down and begin to pass the Queen, who receives the salute of the troops as they pass. Each regiment plays its own specific associated Regimental Slow March in turn as they pass in front of the monarch. This is followed by quick marches and ends with the Queen being escorted in her official carriage back to Buckingham Palace . The event is one of the most spectacular events in the traditional British calendar, with the parade ground full of colourful traditional dress uniforms and beautifully decorated horse drawn carriages.

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