Birthday Parade

All summer long, England and especially the greater London area is filled with music festivals, village celebrations, sporting contests and traditional national events. Everyone wants to capitalize on the warm weather, although for the past several years England has had unseasonably cold and rainy summers. Then again, this is the country known for the “Keep Calm and Carry On” mantra. So, rain or shine, we are doing our best to enjoy this busy time from June to September.

Every year the Queen’s birthday, which is April 21st, is celebrated in June for the reasons stated above. Three beautiful military style parades are held in her honour. (Don’t you love how my spell check adds the “u” into certain words?) Anyone can request tickets via post to these parades and we were lucky to receive tickets to attend the Colonel’s Review of the Trooping the Colour. In true British fashion, there was a dress code for this event. It was “lounge suit” or jacket and trousers for the men with appropriate accompanying dress for the ladies. No problem for us. We all love the dressing up part.

Trooping the Colours is a beautiful military tradition that has been in place for hundreds of years. Regimental flags, or “Colours” represent the soldiers of different units. During the final parade the Queen inspects the regiments present and also takes their salute. At the Colonel’s Review several different groups of soldiers were represented: 445 foot guards, 225 musicians in a marching band, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, the Mounted Bands of the Cavalry (Yes a band on horseback!), and the Royal Horse Artillery.

In a beautifully choreographed parade, the regiments march into an area called Horse Guards Parade, join together in formation as a large group, stand for inspection by the Queen (or Colonel in our parade) and then in individual regiments march past to salute and present their colours. Well, that is my simplified description. I have no doubt there is more tradition and meaning than I am able to catch on to.

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It was a real treat to enjoy such a special tradition. The only drawback was the Queen only attends the third and final parade, so we missed seeing her. But if we did attend when she was there, the dress code would have been “morning dress” which is tails and top hats for men with formal dress for the women. Hmmm, the boys would have loved to get that dressed up, but having to acquire formal wear for a parade might have been a bit much.

I really wanted to post a great video I took of the marching band, but I can’t quite figure out how to do that. I can post videos from You Tube, but not from my camera. Sorry…

As you can tell by all our posts, if there is an event we can sign up for, we’re there. Some of Lance’s co-workers joke that we do more activities in England than they do. We are doing our best to enjoy every opportunity that comes our way.