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Ideas / Album / Trooping the Colour
Photos from the Queen's Birthday Parade


The British queen - Queen Elizabeth the Second - has two "birthdays". As well as her actual birthday (in April), the tradition is that the king or queen has an "official" birthday in early June (on the second Saturday of the month). This is when the "Trooping the Colour" parade takes place, involving about 1000 soldiers, 300 musicians and 200 horses (there are practices known as "reviews" on each of the two Saturdays before the main event). The photos on this page were taken in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Tickets are required to watch the main Trooping the Colour ceremony on the parade ground, but anyone can stand on The Mall (to the south of Green Park or to the north of St James's Park) to watch the arrival and departure. The event is broadcast live on BBC1, and highlights are shown later on the same day on BBC2.

In 2011 Trooping the Colour is on Saturday 11 June.

Trooping the Colour 2007 (music CD)
Performers: No. 7 Company Coldstream Guards
Label: Bandleader
Date: July 2007
Music from Beating Retreat 2007 (music CD)
Performers: Household Division
Label: Bandleader
Date: July 2007
Trooping the Colour 2006 (music CD)
Performers: 1st Battalion Welsh Guards
Label: Bandleader
Date: September 2006
Buckingham Palace: The Official Illustrated History (book)
Author: John Martin Robinson
Publisher: The Royal Collection
Date: March 2001
Trooping the Colour 2005 (music CD)
Performers: 1st Battalion Irish Guards
Label: Bandleader
Date: August 2005
Queen Elizabeth II: A Birthday Souvenir Album (book)
Author: Jane Roberts
Publisher: The Royal Collection
Date: June 2006

Recommended music to listen to when reading this page: Regimental slow marches or Regimental quick marches (opens in a new window)

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The event starts at about 10am, when the first band leaves Wellington Barracks (on Birdcage Walk, on the south side of St James's Park). It passes Buckingham Palace before marching down The Mall to Horse Guards Parade. Other bands and foot soldiers follow soon afterwards. The mounted guards arrive from Constitution Hill (on the south side of Green Park). The Queen enters her horse-drawn carriage outside Buckingham Palace at about 10:50am and is escorted to the parade ground, where the troops have all assembled.

The band marches from Wellington Barracks
(on Birdcage Walk) into Spur Road ...

... before passing Buckingham Palace
(and then marching along The Mall)


Senior members of the royal family leave Buckingham Palace at 10:45am. The Queen's horse-drawn carriage leaves at about 10:50am and is escorted along The Mall to the parade ground, where the troops have all assembled.

Senior members of the royal family travel to the parade ground in a coach:
Prince Harry, the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) and Prince William (in 2008)

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh
leave Buckingham Palace (in 2008)

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The Trooping the Colour ceremony takes place on Horseguards Parade between 11am and noon. The Queen's flag (the Royal Standard) is raised at the top of the building while she is there.

The soldiers who take part in this event do not just guard the Queen and take part in ceremonies - they also train and fight if necessary. Opposite the place where the Queen sits is the Guards Memorial - this has been put up to remember those members of the Guards who lost their lives in the World Wars and other conflicts.

The Royal Standard (left)
is raised when the Queen arrives

The Guards Memorial commemorates members of the
Household Division who have died in wars

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The Queen rides past the soldiers in her coach, inspecting them. She knows what standards to expect, as she has performed this duty every year since she became Queen (except in 1955, when the parade was cancelled because of a national rail strike).

The Queen inspects the soldiers in 2004 ...

... and in 2005

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The "Colour" is a flag representing a regiment (section) of the army. Many years ago, this flag was used to show soldiers where to gather during battles or at other times. It was important for everyone to be able to recognise his own Colour, so it was shown to all the soldiers at the end of each day. The Trooping the Colour ceremony is largely based on this tradition. Although the Colour is no longer used while fighting, it remains an important symbol of the regiment and its history. Battles in which the soldiers from that regiment have fought are shown on the flag.

Each year, the flag of one of the regiments of the Household Division is chosen to be the Colour. The Colour is taken in front of all of the soldiers on Horseguards Parade, and is saluted as it goes past. Members of the chosen regiment are responsible for the ceremonial and guarding duties at Buckingham Palace immediately after the Trooping the Colour ceremony.

Each year one of the regiments of the
Household Division displays its Colour

The flag plays an important part in the ceremony
on Horseguards Parade

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During the ceremony, military music is played by the Massed Bands and Corps of Drums of the Household Division. Each of the divisions of the Household Division has its own tune used for either a slow march or a quick march. Some of the musicians play while they are riding horses. The person who plays the large drums needs both of his hands to play, so he must control his horse using his feet!

The regimental marches for the foot soldiers are as follows:

Household Division regiment Slow march Quick march
The Grenadier Guards "The March from Scipio" (Handel) "The British Grenadiers"
Coldstream Guards "Figaro" (Mozart) "Milanollo"
The Welsh Guards "Men of Harlech" "Rising of the Lark"
The Irish Guards "Let Erin Remember" "St Patrick’s Day"
The Scots Guards "Garb of Auld Gaul" "Heilan’ Laddie"

Massed band

One of the two drum horses

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The Foot Guards are perhaps the best known members of the Household Division, because visitors to London can see them guarding the front of Buckingham Palace. Soldiers must walk in step with each other, and they perform quite complicated turning manoeuvres.
There are 5 units - you can distinguish between them by observing the colours of the plumes in their hats and the layout of the buttons on their tunics:
- Grenadier Guards (white plumes and evenly-spaced tunic buttons)
- Coldstream Guards (red plumes and tunic buttons in twos)
- Scots Guards (no plumes and tunic buttons in threes)
- Irish Guards (blue plumes and tunic buttons in fours)
- Welsh Guards (white-and-green plumes and tunic buttons in fives)

Coldstream Guards
(red plumes and paired tunic buttons)

Irish Guards
(blue plumes and tunic buttons in fours)

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As well as the foot soldiers, there are also several hundred soldiers mounted on horseback. The horses are very well trained - they must walk close to each other and remain calm at all times. Gravel has been laid out on Horseguards Parade to allow the horses to walk easily.

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery arriving (with their cannons) ...

... and on the parade ground

The Blues and Royals (right, wearing blue tunics)

Princess Anne (right) is Colonel of the Blues & Royals

The Life Guards (wearing red tunics) arriving on the parade ground ...

... and near Buckingham Palace

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On the birthdays of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, and on the anniversary of the Queen's coronation, it is traditional for cannons to be fired from Hyde Park, the Tower of London and Windsor Castle. On the Queen's official birthday (the day of the Trooping the Colour ceremony) there is a gun salute in Green Park at 12:52pm - 41 guns are fired by the King's Troop. This can be heard clearly from Buckingham Palace.

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Once the ceremony has finished, the Queen returns along the Mall to Buckingham Palace. Crowds line both sides of the road.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh
ride back to Buckingham Palace (in 2006) ...

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh
ride back to Buckingham Palace (in 2006) ...

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After arriving back at Buckingham Palace, the Queen and other members of the royal family appear on the palace balcony to greet the crowds.

The Royal Standard is raised
on the roof of the palace

The balcony at
Buckingham Palace

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh
waving to the crowd (in 2004)

Members of the royal family assemble on the balcony (in 2007)

The Queen watches the RAF flypast (in 2008)

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Royal Air Force aeroplanes fly over Buckingham Palace at 1pm (provided that weather conditions are good enough). The photos below show the flypast in 2006:
- Top left: Battle of Britain display (Lancaster in the middle, Spitfires on either side); top right: Typhoon jets
- Middle left: Globemaster; middle centre: Tristar flanked by a Typhoon and a Jaguar on either side; middle right: Tornados
- Bottom left: E-3 AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) flanked by Tornados; bottom right: Red Arrows, with Canberra in the middle

RAF flypast (in 2006)

The Red Arrows

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In 2006 there was a special tribute on the Forecourt of Buckingham Palace to mark the Queen's 80th birthday. The guards fired into the air and the band played the National Anthem (God Save the Queen) - this was repeated three times. The guards then removed their bearskin hats and gave three cheers to the Queen.

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After the event some spectators took an opportunity for a photo with members of the Household Guards. It seems that they also have one new young recruit ... !

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Garter Day ceremony: Ideas/Album/GarterDay
Royal Ascot: Ideas/Album/RoyalAscot
Remembrance Sunday: Ideas/Album/RemembranceSunday
State Opening of Parliament: Ideas/Album/StateOpeningOfParliament
Edinburgh Military Tattoo: Ideas/Album/Tattoo

Introduction to the British Royal Family: Britain/Countries/Royalty
Events in the UK in June: Ideas/Events/June

Home page: Home

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