For more than 250 years, the ceremony known as Trooping the Colour, when soldiers from the Household Division display their battalion emblems – originally so that all ranks could later recognize them in the fog of battle – has also been the Queen’s birthday parade. Watch our video below for fast facts on the very special royal tradition.
The event, held every year on the second Saturday of June, celebrates the monarch’s official birthday regardless of when he or she was actually born. The Queen, who by tradition takes the salute in person, simply does not miss this occasion. (It was cancelled in just one year of her reign, in 1955, because of a national rails strike.)
During the ceremony, Elizabeth receives a royal salute and carries out an inspection of the troops. After the massed bands perform a musical “troop,” the escorted regimental flag is carried down the ranks. The Foot Guards and the Household Cavalry march past the Queen, who then rides in a carriage back to Buckingham Palace at the head of her Guards, before taking the salute.
She and other members of the Royal Family then gather on the Buckingham Palace balcony for a RAF flypast – a moment that’s always a favourite with the crowd gathered outside.