Trooping the Colour: How to watch King Charles’s birthday celebration

A fly-past of the Red Arrows over Buckingham Palace during Trooping the Colour in 2023
A fly-past of the Red Arrows over Buckingham Palace during Trooping the Colour in 2023 - Getty Images

Trooping the Colour, the centuries-old parade that officially commemorates the King’s birthday, will take place today in London.

A TV audience from around the world will join official guests – peers, politicians and ambassadors – in viewing the Royal spectacle.

Follow The Telegraph’s Trooping the Colour live blog

Over 1,400 officers and men of the Household Division will parade before their monarch and commander-in-chief, from Buckingham Palace along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade and back again.

This is the second time the event has been held in King Charles III’s honour, and the first since his cancer diagnosis earlier this year.

His Majesty told the Irish Guards he was “very much looking forward” to the ceremony as he presented the regiment with new colours at Windsor Castle on Monday.

The King is expected to take part in Saturday’s parade but will inspect the soldiers from a carriage rather than on horseback as he continues his cancer treatment.

The Princess of Wales has also announced that she will make a return to public life for the ceremony and is making “good progress” in her chemotherapy treatment.

She will join her husband and children on Saturday, riding in a carriage with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis before appearing with the full working family on the Buckingham Palace balcony.

What time is Trooping the Colour?

The Horse Guards Parade is scheduled to begin at 10:20am on Saturday, 15 June, although members of the public wishing to watch from The Mall or St James’s Park are advised to arrive from 9am.

Weather dependent, a fly-past led by the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows will pass across the skies above Buckingham Palace shortly after 1pm.

The public watch a fly-past of aircraft by the RAF from The Mall
The public watch a fly-past of aircraft by the RAF from The Mall - AFP

What is Trooping the Colour?

Formally called the “King’s Birthday Parade on Horse Guards”, but known to most as Trooping the Colour, the ceremony is the annual celebration of the Sovereign’s “official” birthday.

Not to be confused with the King’s natural birthday in November, when he turns 76, the ceremony is an annual tradition dating back to 1760 and the reign of George III, who was born in June.

It will be His Majesty’s duty to take the salute as over a thousand soldiers and hundreds of horses and musicians march in what is easily the most colourful and impressive of all Royal events – save the Coronation itself.

Royals stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch the fly-past in 2023
Royals stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch the fly-past in 2023 - Karwai Tang
Soldiers will parade in central London
Soldiers will parade in central London - Eddie Mulholland/Eddie Mulholland

This year, the Irish Guards will “troop” or display their uniform and insignia colours for the King, who is Colonel in Chief of the seven Guards regiments of the Household Division.

Five of those regimental bands, each representing one of the foot guards, will assemble in Horse Guards Parade.

The Irish Guards mascot, an Irish Wolf Hound named Turlough Mor but affectionately known as Seamus, will also be led across the square by a scarlet-coated drummer and presented to the regiment as the soldiers line up.

Where to watch Trooping the Colour

Those who will not be in central London to attend the parade in person will be able to follow BBC One’s live UK broadcast of Trooping the Colour from 10:30am on Saturday morning.

Fly past route

The Red Arrow’s will set off from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire at 12:28pm and fly over Great Yarmouth, Ipswich and Colchester en route to the King, who will be watching from the palace balcony with members of the Royal family.

Onlookers in the vicinity of Windsor, East Haddon, Oakham or Lincoln stand a chance of glimpsing the squadron on their way back to base, where they are due to return at 1:34pm.

The RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) is set to miss its traditional role in the fly-past, after a fatal Spitfire crash earlier this year.

The group of Second World War-vintage aeroplanes was grounded after one of its Spitfires crashed in May, killing its pilot, Squadron Leader Mark Long.

Last year, the RAF sent its Lancaster, two Hurricanes and a Spitfire to pass over the royal parade, flying up The Mall and over the top of Buckingham Palace.

The fly-past, including the Lancaster bomber, in 2023
The fly-past, including the Lancaster bomber, in 2023 - Paul Marriott / Alamy Stock Photo

How to get Trooping the Colour tickets

Tickets for seating in the grandstand surrounding Horse Guards Parade for Trooping the Colour are allocated by ballot, with a maximum of 4 tickets per applicant.

Tickets cost £30 each and can be purchased online from the Army’s website.

Where is Trooping the Colour held?

The parade will be held in central London, with the parade route beginning at Buckingham Palace, running along The Mall and around the corner of St James’s Park to Horse Guards Parade.

Horse Guards Parade is the site of the daily Changing of the Guard and is located adjacent to Whitehall and The Household Cavalry Museum.

The closest Tube stations are Charing Cross and Westminster.

What is the Dress Code?

According to the Household Division, the event is a formal State Ceremonial Parade in the presence of His Majesty The King and therefore those attending are “required to dress accordingly”.

Their guidance says: “Morning dress or lounge suit for gentlemen, equivalent for ladies (strictly no denim, shorts or sandals).

“Hats are optional but are recommended for paying compliments to His Majesty and the Colours as they pass, as well as giving the necessary protection from the sun.”

However, umbrellas and parasols will not be permitted in order to avoid obstructing others’ views.