A few weekends ago, I attended Trooping the Colour, an annual ceremony to honor the Queen’s birthday. We made it a program-wide event, and I led a group of students to The Mall to watch the procession.
Let me just say this… attending Trooping the Colour is one of the best things I’ve done in London. Prior to this event, I’d never laid eyes on a member of the royal family (in the collective 8 months I’ve lived in London!). And in one day, I saw the entire royal family… twice!
What IS Trooping the Colour?
This ceremony is the official celebration of the Queen’s birthday. Her actual day of birth is April 21. During the ceremony, aka “The Queen’s Birthday Parade,” the troops and the royal family process down The Mall to the Horse Guards Parade, where the Queen inspects her troops and they pledge their allegiance to her.
For a more “official” description of the event, check out the website dedicated to Trooping the Colour. It’s an easy-to-read history of the event and its significance to the monarchy.
The event begins at 10 AM, and is free to the public. People line the streets and crowd The Mall to watch the troops and the royal family pass by.
When we arrived, we were standing just outside Charles’ and Camilla’s residence, and we were lucky enough to see their car come out of the gates. Charles and Camilla were in the back seat. They were being taken to Buckingham Palace to join the rest of the family for the procession.
Kate Middleton and Camilla were in the first carriage; they were followed by Harry and Meghan. Princess Beatrice and Eugenie were in the third carriage with the Countess of Wessex and her daughter Lady Louise. The Queen’s carriage was last, and William and Charles rode horseback behind her.
It was so exciting – I loved the energy and the patriotism of the crowd, especially the excited shouts as the royal family rode by in their carriages.
If you’re willing to wait for another hour or so, the royal family will ride past again on their way back to the palace. The general public aren’t able to see the actual colour ceremony take place, as it’s around the corner at the Horse Guards Parade. (Though I believe you can purchase tickets for this part of the event.)
But it’s enough to see the troops and the horses and the royal family, all in one fell swoop. And it’s always exciting to witness the pomp and circumstance, the pageantry that is associated with the monarchy.
Not to mention, it was very exciting to see Harry and Meghan together for one of their first “royal” events since their wedding in May. Meghan looked absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t attend the wedding because we were in Cornwall for a weekend trip, but this was almost better, as I had a closer vantage point than I would have had in Windsor.
And afterward, the royal family gathers on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to watch the flyover by the Royal Air Force, which is absolutely breathtaking. We didn’t stay to see the royal family on the balcony. We were walking home, passing through Trafalgar Square, when the planes flew overhead. It was stunning.
This is an annual event. If you have the opportunity to witness it, you absolutely should.