The annual Trooping the Colour is widely considered the centre piece of the royal family's summer calendar. The spectacular parade is held in June every year to celebrate the Queen's official birthday, and as such the royals turn out in full force for the festivities. More than 1,400 officers take part as well as 200 horses and over 400 musicians from ten bands. On the day itself, the royals travel in procession via horse-drawn carriage from Buckingham Palace, along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and back again. When Her Majesty arrives at Horse Guards Parade, she is greeted by a royal salute and inspects the troops. The band also performs a musical troop as the regimental flag – or colour – is carried down the ranks. The Queen is then driven back to Buckingham Palace as the head of her Guards.
WATCH: The royal family on the balcony after 2019 Trooping the Colour
Upon their return, the royal family stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to greet crowds and watch the spectacular RAF flypast. This is also a chance for younger members of the family to make an appearance.
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The monarch, then Princess Elizabeth, first attended Trooping the Colour in 1947, and since becoming Queen in 1952, has never missed the event – save for one occasion. That occurred in 1955 when the whole event had to be cancelled due to a national rail strike. Since 1987, the Queen has attended in a carriage rather than riding in the parade; prior to that she rode side-saddle, wearing the uniform of the regiment whose Colour was being trooped.
Prior to 1987, the Queen rode in the parade
Of course, this year the event has been seriously impacted by lockdown, but it will still go ahead in a different format. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson has confirmed to HELLO!: "There will be a small, brief, military ceremony at Windsor Castle to mark The Queen's official birthday."
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Rather than taking place in front of huge crowds on Horse Guards Parade, the ceremonial event will be held at Windsor Castle, where the Queen is self-isolating with her husband Prince Philip. The parade will be commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Llewelyn-Usher, who will lead a small contingent of men from the Welsh Guards, accompanied by a reduced group of the Bands of the Household Division. In keeping with tradition, there will be a royal salute to the monarch at 11am – just as there would have been – however, there will understandably be no spectators, other than those watching from inside Windsor Castle.
The Queen has only ever missed one Trooping the Colour
The Queen famously has two birthdays; she was born on 21 April 1926, and holds a second official celebration on the second Saturday in June. It has long been a tradition for a monarch in the UK to hold celebrations on a day other than their birthday. It was started more than 250 years ago by King George II in 1748; he was born in November, which is not known for its good weather, and therefore decided to hold a summer celebration, combined with a military parade – Trooping the Colour.