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Trooping the Colour: the dress code explained

This year's official royal parade is on Saturday 17th June...

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Trooping the Colour 2018
Lauren Ramsay
Online Writer
15 June 2023
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This year's Trooping the Colour is swiftly approaching. 2023's annual event is a historic one for many, as it's the first year the United Kingdom is honouring a new reigning sovereign since 1952 - the year the late Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne.

Thousands of people line the streets of London, and a lucky few who are chosen via an online ballot, gain VIP access inside the Horse Guards Parade to watch the main event.

It's another occasion wear sartorial fanatics eagerly await to see what our stylish royals step out in. Last year, the Princess of Wales stunned in an ivory Alexander McQueen coat dress paired with a navy blue hat with a white trim by Philip Treacy.  

MORE: The 10 most stylish Royal Ascot hats of all time

RELATED: The 23 best Royal Ascot outfits of all time

The Princess of Wales with the late Queen Elizabeth at Trooping the Colour 2022© Getty
The Princess of Wales with the late Queen Elizabeth at Trooping the Colour 2022

Granted, royals will step out in their sunday (well, saturday) best for the ocassion. But do onlookers need to adhere to a certain dress code? And what do those inside the Horse Guards Palace need to wear? Here's everything you need to know.

What is Trooping the Colour?

Trooping the Colour is the annual celebration held to mark the reigning sovereign's birthday.

"Over 1400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians come together each June in a great display of military precision, horsemanship and fanfare," explains the Royal Family's website.

"The streets are lined with crowds waving flags as the parade moves from Buckingham Palace and down The Mall to Horse Guard's Parade, alongside Members of the Royal Family on horseback and in carriages."

The celebrations close with iconic RAF fly past, where 9 Air Force plans fly over creating the colours of the Union Jack, and the Royal Family wave from Buckingham Palace's famous balcony.

The Duchess of Sussex at Trooping the colour in 2018© Getty
The Duchess of Sussex at Trooping the colour in 2018

What is the Trooping the Colour dress code?

There is no official dress code for those who line the streets to catch a glimpse of the festivities, but for those who secured tickets for the official event must adhere to the sartorial requirements.

The official website explains that "This is a formal State Ceremonial Parade in the presence of His Majesty The King. Those attending are required to dress accordingly".

Think of the dress code as: Ascot without the necessity of a headpiece. 

Guests outfits at Trooping the Colour in2016© Getty
Guests outfits at Trooping the Colour in2016

"Morning dress; lounge suit; or jacket, tie & trousers for gentlemen / equivalent for ladies. Children must also be dressed smartly." To be safe, opt for dresses that are maxi or fall just below the knee, and smart flat shoes or heels.

Hats can be worn, but aren't essential. They must also be doffed (removed) "when paying the necessary compliments to His Majesty and the Colour / Standards / Lead Gun as each passes." If you did want to wear a headpiece, use these stylish Ascot hats as inspo.

Sandals, denim, trainers, t-shirts and flipflops are forbidden.

Will Princess Kate stay on her current circular fashion streak and re-wear an old outfit? Or will she add a brand new look to her exquisite designer dress roster? We can't wait to find out...

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