In the 17th Century in the reign of Charles II, Trooping the Colour was first put into place and used as a focus point, so every soldier could recognise those colours, (the brightly – coloured flags of a battalion) visible above the smog and dust of his own regiment when in battle. Every day soldiers trooped their colours to ensure this was a good rallying point.
The Foot Guards, in London as part of their daily routine on Horse Guard, used to do this and is Ceremonial of the modern Trooping the Colour parade of today.
In 1748 the first noted Sovereign’s birthday being ‘kept’ by the Grenadier Guards, and again after George III became king was in 1760. It was ordered that the King’s Birthday should always be marked by a parade and so the Trooping the Colour become an annual event from the accession of George IV but apart from a few exceptions and the two world wars.
This exceptional display is held on the Queen’s Official Birthday. The show of pageantry takes place on 11th June each year by her own personal troops, the Household Division, on Horse Guards Parade, with the Queen attending and taking the Salute. The colour will be trooped by 1st Battalion Scots Guards and a 41- Gun Royal Salute by the King’s Troop RHA in Green Park at 1252 hours and 62 – Guns by the HAC at the Tower of London at 1300 Hours.
Rather than riding, since 1987 the Queen has arrived by coach in Queen Victoria’s Ivory-mounted phaeton, drawn by a pair of matched Windsor Grey horses. However on 36 previous occasions she rode side-saddle and wearing the uniform of the regiment whose colour was being trooped. The horse was a black mare named Burmese and was rode from 1969 to 1987 when the horse retired. Burmese was given to the Queen by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Approximately 1400 officers and men along with 200 horses and 400 musicians and corps of drums play and march with synchronised perfection to ‘Les Huguenots’ by Meyerbeer and has been done so since the end of the last century. The Officer in command voices 113 words of order and the route of the Parade starts from Buckingham Palace running along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade, to Whitehall and back.
The Royal Procession arrives exactly as the clock on the Horse Guards building strikes eleven and the Queen takes the Royal Salute. The inspection begins marking the beginning of the Parade.