Celebrate the Queen’s birthday with military pomp and circumstance Trooping the Colour
If you have ever wanted to experience the spectacle of a British military procession, Queen Elizabeth’s official birthday on 9 June (the actual date is in April) is the occasion for a two-centuries-old tradition of the Trooping the Color on Horse Guards Parade — and there are several other thrilling opportunities to enjoy military pageantry in May and June.
Although tickets for the stands were snapped up long ago, spectacular views of the Queen’s celebration may still be had by lining up on the edge of St. James Park or along the Mall leading to Buckingham Palace. You’ll be rewarded by a distinctly British sight: Thousands of military personnel, band members and pipers in full uniform, many on horseback, for the Queen’s inspection.
The festivities begin about 10 a.m. Queen Elizabeth travels from Buckingham Palace along the Mall in a carriage with a mounted escort. Destination: Horse Guards Parade, a sweeping grounds in central London off Whitehall, where she reviews the troops then returns in a procession to the palace. There she takes the salute, accompanied by the distant sounds of the firing of 21 guns each at the Tower of London and in Green Park, and finally joins other members of the Royal Family on the balcony of the Palace to watch a flyover by the Royal Air Force at 1 p.m.
Although versions of the event have been held since the 1600s, King George IV was the first to have the formal Trooping the Colour ceremony in 1820. Only during the World Wars and a national strike in 1955 was the event suspended.
Leading up to the birthday honour, rehearsal parades are held, with impressive processions of soldiers and musicians. Information and ticketing for the 2 June Colonel’s Review are available here.
There are other opportunities to take in Britain’s fabled pageantry. On the evenings of 6-7 June, the Household Division Beating Retreat, distinguished by the addition of cannons and fireworks to the military precision and music.
You can catch a London bus at Sloane Square, just blocks from Nell Gwynn Chelsea Accommodation, that will take you directly to Buckingham Palace in 10 minutes, and our helpful porters can direct you to bus or Underground routes to the Horse Guards Parade grounds, not far away.