Every year, flag-bearing fans from across the nation flock to the Mall to catch a glimpse of the royal family as they wave from the Buckingham Palace balcony during Trooping the Colour.
The annual event is hosted in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II‘s birthday and this year, the festivities fall on Saturday 9 June. Her Majesty has attended almost every ceremony since her accession to the throne, as a consequence to skipping the 1955 event due to a national rail strike back in 1955.
The traditional affair is a major event in the royal calendar and in recent years, the nation has tuned in to witness the likes of Princess Harry’s cheeky appearance to a one-year-old Princess Charlotte’s debut regal wave.
From the history behind the event to this year’s regal guest list, here’s everything you can expect from 2018’s Trooping the Colour.
Why does the Queen have two birthdays?
Her Majesty was born on April 21 1926 but she also celebrates a second birthday every June.
The Queen prefers to celebrate her real birthday with her family away from the public eye (though there is always a traditional gun salute in London at midday).
The main pomp and pageantry however, falls on the second Saturday in June every year and the national celebration is known as Trooping the Colour or the Queen’s Birthday Parade.
All British sovereigns are given the opportunity to choose a second ‘official’ birthday and the Queen chose the second Thursday of June, as it was the same day in which her father, King George VI, chose to celebrate his birthday too.
However, Her Majesty changed the date to the second Saturday of every June back in 1959 perhaps in order to allow the public to join in. It has remained the same ever since.
Who founded Trooping the Colour?
The official ceremony was first introduced for military purposes under the reign of King Charles II back in the early 1600s.
It soon sparked a regal tradition and it was King George II in 1748 who decided to combine it with his birthday celebrations for the first time. He deemed his November birthday too chilly to host his parade hence the decision to eventually coincide the events.
The Queen has done the same ever since and has only ever skipped one ceremony.
What can we expect from Trooping the Colour?
On Saturday 9 June, the Queen will leave Buckingham Palace by carriage at 10am and head towards the Horse Guards Parade. Up until 1987, she used to arrive on horseback.
Her Majesty will then receive the royal salute at 11am before carrying out an inspection of the troop’s ceremonial uniform.
The event involves over 1,400 officers, 200 horses and 400 musicians from 10 bands. Every year, a different regiment’s colours are trooped and this year, it is the turn of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards.
Once the soldiers have marched, the Queen returns to Buckingham Palace for a second salute where she is joined by members of the royal family (cue the adorable royal children’ waves). A 41-gun salute then takes place in Green Park.
Will Prince Louis of Cambridge attend Trooping the Colour?
The world first caught a glimpse of the couple’s youngest child on 23 April when he was photographed leaving St Mary’s Hospital swaddled in his mother’s arms.
Kensington Palace has since shared a sweet snap of the royal baby via Instagram where he is pictured with sister Princess Charlotte.
It is widely speculated that Prince Louis will join his siblings on the big day though he is significantly younger than previous royals before him.
It is interesting to note, that Charlotte made her first appearance on the balcony at 13-months-old shortly before Prince George made his debut shortly after his second birthday back in 2015. The Queen made her debut at 14-months-old back in 1927.
We’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.
Will the Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend Trooping the Colour?
It is widely believed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will make their first appearance as a married couple on the Buckingham Palace balcony this Saturday.
Royal fans were admittedly disheartened when the newlyweds decided against the now-famous kiss from the historic building on their wedding day, as they instead chose to tie the knot at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.
If the couple do attend the ceremony, it will mark their second post-wedding engagement. The pair reportedly postponed their honeymoon in order to attend Prince Charles’s 70th birthday celebrations just days after their history-making nuptials.
For the event, Meghan demonstrated her sartorial prowess in a royally-approved Goat dress accompanied with a pair of Kate Middleton-esque tights.
If the former actress attends the annual event, it will ultimately cement her status within the royal family and will prove a great opportunity for her to practice the regal wave. The newlyweds are currently on their honeymoon but will be back for the ceremony.
How can I watch Trooping the Colour?
The parade will be televised live on the BBC from 10am with the now-famous flypast due to take place at 1pm.
For die-hard fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the real deal, it is possible to watch from the Mall though it is advised that you arrive early to avoid crowds.
See you there.
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