Trooping the Colour
Each year this military parade and march-past marks the official birthday of the Sovereign. It is a colourful event, replete with pageantry and tradition, and is a great favourite with visitors to London.
The troops taking part in the parade are fully trained, operational troops from the Household Division. The Queen's Colour of a battalion of Foot Guards is 'trooped' (carried) through the ranks in front of the Sovereign. One colour is trooped each year, and five Household regiments - Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh rotate each year.
Over 1,400 officers and men take part in the parade, along with over 200 horses. There are over 400 musicians from ten bands and corps of drums. Some 113 words of command are spoken by the Officer in Command of the Parade.
The ceremony has a long tradition, dating back to the 18th century when guards and sentries of the Royal Palaces were mounted daily on the Parade Ground by the Horse Guards building. The colours of the battalion were carried slowly through the ranks, so that the soldiers would learn to recognise the colours of their own regiment. In 1748 it was decreed that this parade would also mark the official birthday of the Sovereign.
Since 1987 the Queen has attended the parade in a carriage; formerly, she attended on horseback, riding side-saddle and wearing the uniform of the regiment whose colour was being trooped.
The parade route runs from Buckingham Palace, along Whitehall, and back again. As the clock on the Horse Guards building strikes 11.00, the Royal Procession arrives and the Queen takes the Royal Salute. After the parade the Royal Family take their places on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to watch an RAF flypast.