The 1st Battalion Irish Guards led The Trooping of The Color (The Queen’s official Birthday Parade) down The Mall (rhymes with pal). Trooping the Color is a ritual done by British Army units. It has been a tradition of British infantry regiments since the 17th century, although its origins date considerably further back in time. On the battlefield, the colors or flags of an unit served as rallying points. The Horse Guards Parade (for Trooping the Colors) was held on grounds next to Whitehall in the heart of London, northeast of Buckingham Palace and west of St. James Park. Today marked the beginning of four days of Jubilee celebrations.
Three royal carriages led the procession from Buckingham Palace. In the first carriage came the three Cambridge children, escorted by Princess Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (pronounced corn el).
Following on horseback were the Prince of Wales, Princess Royal, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. The Prince of Wales, aged 73, saluted troops just as his mother did when she became queen at the age of 25. In 1951, when her father, King George VI, was too ill to attend, the Queen represented him.
The family of the Earl of Wessex was in the second carriage. In the third carriage sat the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
In 1936 King George VI began the tradition of the horse parade as an addition to the trooping. Today, The Colonel in Chief of the Regiments is HM The Queen. At the stroke of 11am, London Time, the formal start of the parade took place, with the playing of “God Save The Queen.”
The major figures today were the three colonels of the military regiments – Charles, Anne and William. The Colonelcy of the Grenadier Guards was returned to The Crown in January 2022 from HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, who himself had taken over the role in late 2017 from his father, the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh KG KT, who had held the appointment since 1975. Andrew, as well as Harry and The Duchess of Sussex, were noticeably absent from the ceremony. Andrew will not participate in Saturday’s festivities, according to some sources, allegedly for catching Covid.
Today, Prince Charles’ primary duty was to represent The Queen due to her delicate health condition, by inspecting the hundreds of guards dressed in red tunics and bearskin hats, as he rode past on horseback. Anne and William followed closely behind. Nobody alive today will witness another Platinum Jubilee March; this parade is a once in a lifetime, if not a once in history event. The weather was beautiful, a bit breezy, and the temperature was 66 degrees Fahrenheit in London.
Since 1902, the Irish guards have led 13 Trooping of the Colors parades. At his wedding to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, who is Colonel of the Irish Guards, wore the crimson uniform of the Irish Guards.
At 11:40 am, the British Union Jack was lowered from Buckingham Palace, then The Queen’s Royal Standard rose, marking The Queen’s arrival at Buckingham Palace.
Joining her within was Prince Edward, Duke of Kent KG, GCMG, GCVO (age 86) a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II through their fathers, Prince George, Duke of Kent, and King George VI. He is the Colonel of The Scots Guards, and he remained at Buckingham Palace with The Queen during the Horse Parade, rather than joining Charles, Anne and William off St. James Park.
At 11:45 bagpipe players joined the Grenadiers, adding a sweet melody to the band. Every band performer is a part-time musician, and full time soldier, predominately machine gunners.
After the ceremony, Charles, Anne and William followed the Grenadiers in procession down The Mall to Buckingham Palace where they entered Buckingham Palace, with the other members of the Royal Family preceding.
At 12:21, The Queen (who turned 96 in April) emerged from the Royal Balcony at Buckingham Palace, accompanied by Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. The Duke saluted the guardsman who passed the balcony. The Queen wore a lavender dress and held a wooden cane. At 12:30 The Queen exited the balcony, and The Changing of The Guard ceremony took place.
At 12.52pm, just before the military aircraft were scheduled to pass over Buckingham Palace, HM The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired an 82-gun salute at Hyde Park.
Charles, Anne, and William joined The Queen after following the Grenadiers along The Mall back to Buckingham Palace.
The Queen and working members of The Royal Family returned to the balcony at 12:56, in time for the military fly-by. The Duchess of Cambridge was observed instructing Prince Louis to remove his thumb from his mouth. As Royal Navy helicopters passed past Buckingham Palace, the Queen was observed encouraging the Cambridge children to check the skies. A Lancaster and four Spitfires from The Battle of Britain flew next, followed by RAF Hercules aircrafts; Poseidon and Rivets: Voyager, Lightening, and Typhoon; RAF Hawks; 15 Typhoons forming the number “70”; and finally nine Red Arrows with red, white, and blue smoke trails.
This was a magnificent homage to The Queen on her official birthday and the first day of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Follow the author Anton Anderssen on Twitter @Hartforth