Today’s state opening of parliament brought about a sudden urge to relive the pomp, pageantry and general sense of pride to be British that 2012 instilled in me. Having missed out on attending any of the events that celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (I still had to revise for the final exam of my undergraduate degree!), I opted to attend Trooping the Colour instead. Given that this year’s Trooping the Colour occurs in just ten days time (Saturday 14th June), I thought I would share my viewpoint on the event and any tips for anyone wanting to attend this year, or any year in the future for that matter!
Trooping the Colour is the Queen’s annual birthday parade. Confusingly it doesn’t occur in her actual birthday, it rests on her official birthday in June. The Queen attends every year alongside other members of the Royal Family and is a great opportunity to see a wealth of the Queen’s troops parade before your very eyes. For the actual ‘ceremony’ a ticket is required (a public ballot is carried out earlier in the year), but anyone can simply turn up to watch the procession from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade along the Mall.
The event begins at 10 am and it is suggested that you get there to nab a decent spot at 9 am. Given that this was our first trip and we were already staying in London, we decided to get there for 8.15am. At this time it was pretty quiet, but we definitely weren’t the first to arrive. We opted to stand along the left-hand side if you’re facing Buckingham Palace and were relatively close to the point where the Mall joins with the semi circle in front of the palace. In hindsight, we should have stood closer to Horse Guards Parade; this would have meant we might have seen a bit of the parade itself and would have had a better chance of getting to the front for the Royal Family’s iconic appearance on the Palace balcony. However, we were very happy to be at the front of the barrier to view the procession down the Mall.
There was quite a lot of time to kill before anything began to happen. We made sure we had a wealth of snacks and beverages to keep us going but to be honest the time went quite quickly. A strange highlight for me was watching ‘them’ close off the Mall and remove all of the traffic lights from their positions …
It was nice to just take in the atmosphere, the Mall looked great adorned with a number of Union Jacks!
Soon enough 10 am came about and the procession began. The various regiments parading in complete unison is quite a sight to see. You will hear music from the military bands – including those on horseback, as someone who has ridden in the past, it baffles me how they manage to control their horse (sometimes with no hands) whilst excelling with their instruments!
The Royal Family are some of the last to appear, the Queen usually rides in one of her closed carriages, with the other members of the Royal Family either on horseback or in an open carriage. The crowd really erupted at this point …
There is then another lull while the parade takes place on Horse Guards, but to be honest there are still quite a few intriguing things going on. Police horses ride up and down the Mall and those soldiers who line the Mall take turns in marching around (I presume to keep the blood flowing)! A more senior soldier kept marching around to talk to his regiment, even wiggling their bearskin hats from time to time (I presume they are itchy!).
Soon enough the troops make their way back to Buckingham Palace, beginning with ‘the colour’ (a flag) and its guards.; followed by the Royal Family, then the regiments. It’s definitely a case of last in first out!
Once everyone is safely back down the Mall, the police lead the influx of the public to get down to Buckingham Palace for the balcony appearance. This is where it would have been better have stood down towards Trafalgar Square – they start letting the public in from that end, meaning we were pretty much last, though given that we were near to the Palace anyway we didn’t exactly have a terrible view!
Once the Royal Family appear on the balcony there is a flyover that ends with the Red Arrows!
Overall, we had an incredibly enjoyable morning. There was a lot of standing around but it was definitely worth it to see such a wonderful British tradition be executed in person. I honestly believe there is no country that does this sort of thing better than us, but then again I would say that, I’m British!