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Mounted bands of the Household Cavalry at Trooping the Colour 2007. The rider of the piebald (black-and-white) drum horse, working the reins with his feet, crosses drumsticks above his head in salute.

Trooping the Colour is a ceremony performed by regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies. It has been a tradition of British infantry regiments since the 17th century, although the roots go back much earlier. On battlefields, a regiment's colours, or flags, were used as rallying points. Consequently, regiments would have their ensigns slowly march with their colours between the soldiers' ranks to enable soldiers to recognise their regiments' colours.

Since 1748 Trooping the Colour has also marked the official birthday of the British sovereign.[1] It is held in London annually on a Saturday in June[2] on Horse Guards Parade by St. James's Park, and coincides with the publication of the Birthday Honours List. Among the audience are the Royal Family, invited guests, ticketholders and the general public. The colourful ceremony, also known as "The Queen's Birthday Parade", is broadcast live by the BBC.

The Queen travels down The Mall from Buckingham Palace in a royal procession with a sovereign's escort of Household Cavalry (mounted troops or horse guards). After receiving a royal salute, she inspects her troops of the Household Division, both foot guards and horse guards, and the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. Each year, one of the foot-guards regiments is selected to troop its colour through the ranks of guards. Then the entire Household Division assembly conducts a march past the Queen, who receives a salute from the saluting base. Parading with its guns, the King's Troop takes precedence as the mounted troops perform a walk-march and trot-past.

The music is provided by the massed bands of the foot guards and the mounted bands of the Household Cavalry, together with a Corps of Drums, and occasionally pipers, totalling approximately 400 musicians.

Returning to Buckingham Palace, the Queen watches a further march-past from outside the gates. Following a 41-gun salute by the King's Troop in Green Park, she leads the Royal Family on to the palace balcony for a Royal Air Force flypast.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Trooping the Colour, June 2012.

Regimental colours

A regiment's colours embody its spirit and service, as well as its fallen soldiers. The loss of a colour, or the capture of an enemy colour, were respectively considered the greatest shame, or the greatest glory on a battlefield. Consequently, regimental colours are venerated by officers and soldiers of all ranks, second only to the sovereign.

Only battalions of infantry regiments of the line carry colours; the Royal Artillery's colours, for example, are its guns. Rifle regiments did not form a line and thus never carried colours. Their battle honours are carried on their drums. The exception to this is the Honourable Artillery Company, which has both a stand of colours and guns.

Trooping the Colour is an old ceremony whereby a battalion would fall in by companies and the colour-party would "troop" or march the colours through the ranks so that every man would see that the colours were intact. This was done before and after every battle. This ceremony has been retained through time and is today largely ceremonial.

The sovereign's official birthday

Trooping the Colour in 1956

In the United Kingdom, Trooping the Colour is also known as the Queen's Birthday Parade.[3] It has marked the official birthday of the sovereign since 1748, and has occurred annually since 1820 (except in bad weather, periods of mourning and other exceptional circumstances). From the reign of King Edward VII, the sovereign has taken the salute in person. It was Edward VII who moved Trooping the Colour to its June date, because of the vagaries of British weather (his own natural birthday being in November).

Trooping the Colour allows the troops of the Household Division to pay a personal tribute to the sovereign with great pomp and pageantry. Crowds lining the route and in St. James's Park listen to music performed by both massed and mounted bands.

The Queen has attended Trooping the Colour in every year of her reign except when prevented by a rail strike in 1955. Formerly mounted herself, she commenced riding in a carriage in 1987. On 13 June 1981, she and her mount were startled by a youth who fired blank rounds from a revolver.[4]

Her 80th birthday in 2006 was marked by a large flypast of 40 planes led by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and culminating with the Red Arrows. It was followed by the first feu de joie ("fire of joy") fired in her presence during her reign, a second being fired at her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. In 2008, a flypast of 55 aircraft commemorated the RAF's 90th anniversary.


The Major General's Review and the Colonel's Review are scheduled on the Saturdays two and one weeks preceding the Queen's Birthday Parade respectively. The salute is taken, respectively, by the Major-General Commanding the Household Division and the Colonel of the Regiment which is trooping its colour. The Unit presenting the Colours commences Troop practice in April.

Trooping the Colour: participants and parade summary

A company of Welsh Guards, recognisable by the leeks on their collars and five-button groupings on their jackets, denoting their status as the most junior of the five Foot Guards regiments.

On the day of Trooping the Colour, the Royal Standard is flown from Buckingham Palace and from Horse Guards Building, while the Union Flag (colloquially known as the Union Jack), is flown from public buildings as well as the flags of the British Commonwealth of Nations, especially in recent years.

Participants and positioning

Foot Guards, including Escort to The Colour (No 1 Guard)

Nos 1-6 Guards - six companies of Foot Guards, each comprising 70 men and 3 officers [5] - line two sides of the perimeter of Horse Guards Parade in an extended "L" shape. This recalls the defensive formation known as the "Hollow Square."[6]

All six companies are collectively commanded as "Guards..." and individually by company number, e.g., "No. 3 Guard..." Up to eight guards have taken part in a varying number over the years. There were six guards in 1939, five guards in 1954, seven from 1963 to 1967, and then eight guards up to the 1980s.[7]

The battalion trooping its colour in any given year is No. 1 Guard. During the parade, they are referred to as 'Escort For the Colour' (and, once they have collected their colour during the ceremony, as 'Escort to the Colour').

At the outset, the colour is held by the Colour Party - a colour sergeant and two other guardsmen of No. 1 Guards, standing well-spaced on the northern side of Horse Guards Parade. Once obtained by the Regimental Sergeant Major of No. 1 Guard, the colour is borne through the ranks of Nos 2-6 Guards by an Ensign of No. 1 Guard. It is a great honour for a young officer to carry the colour in this ceremony, as historically only the most courageous Ensigns were assigned to carry the regiment's colours in battle. Nowadays the honour is normally given to second lieutenants who excel at drill and ceremonial and who are physically fit.

Mounted troops and Sovereign's Escort

Lining the edge of St. James's Park are the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment - the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals - as well as the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery.

In the Royal Procession, the Household Cavalry are termed Sovereign's Escort. Two divisions ride ahead of the Queen's carriage and two behind it, and the Life Guards and Blues and Royals alternate these positions each year.

Commanding officers

Three mounted officers drawn from No 1 Guard give drill commands during the parade. The most senior is the Field Officer in Brigade Waiting a Lieutenant Colonel, assisted by the Major of the Parade. The Field Officer occupies a central position on the parade ground. The third mounted officer is the Adjutant.

The Garrison Sergeant Major of London District, who is not mounted, coordinates the whole event on the parade ground and the approach road from The Mall.[8]

Military bands

With almost 400 musicians on the field, led by the massed military bands of the Household Division, the music forms an integral part of the day. The massed bands of the Foot Guards number over 200 musicians. Joining them are the mounted bands of the Household Cavalry. There is also a Corps of Drums and, on some occasions, pipe bands of the Scots Guards and Irish Guards.

Musicians of the Foot Guards marching along the Mall, June 2012.

Summary of the parade design

The entire parade is best understood as an exercise of several elements carried out in slow and quick march time, with the Trooping the Colour phase forming the centrepiece.

  • The Queen inspects first the Foot Guards and then the Household Cavalry and King's Troop, to slow and quick march music respectively.
  • Then the massed bands "troop" before the Queen in slow and quick time. A lone drummer breaks away.
  • Drummer's Call signals No. 1 Guard - the Escort for the Colour - to march to the centre of the field and obtain their colour from the Colour Party. The massed bands execute the "Spin Wheel" manoeuvre.
  • As "Escort to the Colour", No. 1 Guard then slowly troops its regimental colour through the ranks of Guards Nos. 6-2 .
  • After forming divisions, Nos. 1-6 Guards march past the Queen in slow and quick time.
  • To music from the mounted bands, the King's Troop leads the Household Cavalry past the Queen, first in walk-march and then in sitting-trot (i.e., slow and quick time for the horses). The mounted bands then salute the Queen.
  • Finally, led by the Sovereign's Escort, the massed bands play the Queen back to Buckingham Palace, the foot guards following.

The Queen's Birthday Parade in detail

The entire parade is supervised by the Field Officer in Brigade Waiting, known as the Field Officer and the parade commander in charge, with the assistance of the Brigade Major and the Adjutant, all on horseback, and joined by the London District Garrison Sergeant Major, who is unmounted and coordinates the proceedings of the ceremony.

March on

Part of the Marker Detail marching at end of parade.

A detail of guardsmen bearing marker flags marches on, to mark the positions of Nos. 1-6 Guards. (These marker flags are the respective company colours from each regiment.)

Preceded by their regimental bands, Nos. 1-6 Guards march into position. No. 1 Guard is "Escort For the Colour."

  • Nos. 1-5 Guards align in ranks of two on the west side of the parade ground facing Horse Guards Building.
  • No. 6 Guard lines up perpendicular to them on the north side, thus making an "L" shape.[9]
  • The massed bands are on the south side, by the gardens of 10 Downing Street.
  • Adjacent to No. 6 Guard is the Colour Party made up of 3 soldiers. A snare drummer joins them in the march in and as the party takes its place the drummer marches off and the colour's casing is removed, revealing the colour to be trooped.
  • The King's Troop, the Household Cavalry, and their mounted bands form up behind Nos. 1-5 Guards.[10]

With the foot guards in their full dress and the mounted bands in state dress uniform, the assembled ranks of Household Division make a colourful spectacle.

Guards half-companies line up on the road to Horse Guards Parade to provide security to the Royal Family that will arrive later and to the marching and mounted contingents.

Arrival of the sovereign

Carriage carrying the Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge and Prince Harry, June 2013.

Elizabeth II riding to Trooping the Colour for the last time in 1986 on her horse Burmese. Since then, she has travelled in a phaeton.

Senior members of the Royal Family arrive in two barouche carriages. No. 3 Guard opens ranks to allow the carriages to pass. (The Royal Family enters Horse Guards Building to view the ceremony from a central first floor window in the Duke of Wellington's former office.)

Preceded by the Sovereign's Escort, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh (Colonel of the Grenadier Guards) drive down the Mall in the Royal Procession. They are seated in Queen Victoria's 1842 ivory-mounted phaeton drawn by two Windsor Grey horses.[11] (From 2012 they both ride in a Glass coach, one of the principal State coaches.) Directly behind them ride the Royal Colonels: the Prince of Wales (Welsh Guards), Duke of Kent (Scots Guards), Princess Royal (Blues and Royals), and from 2011, the newest Royal Colonel: the Duke of Cambridge (Irish Guards). Other officers complete the Royal Procession.

As the phaeton or coach arrives on Horse Guards Parade, the Royal Standard is prepared to be released and flown from the roof of Horse Guards. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh alight at the Saluting Base to start the ceremonies.

The Field Officer commences the Parade with the command: "Guards - Royal Salute - Present Arms!" and the national anthem (God Save The Queen) is played by the Household Division's Foot Guards Massed Bands, led by the Senior Director of Music of the Household Division, and as this is done the Royal Standard is formally released and flies over the Horse Guards flagpole.

Inspection of the line

The Queen inspects the foot guards, the Royal Colonels following her. Foreground: backs of No. 6 Guard. Background: garden of 10 Downing Street and massed bands.

The Queen re-enters the phaeton or coach and is driven before and behind the long line of assembled guards, with the Royal Colonels following. BBC television commentaries every year emphasise the Queen's knowledge of the attributes of her guards, and single out "steadiness" as a highly prized quality for a guardsman.

The accompanying marches always carry a flavour of the regiment whose colour is being trooped, lending the royal inspection a unique atmosphere, especially when it is the turn of the three guard regiments representing a home nation (Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales). While the Queen passes the six companies of foot guards on her left, a slow march or air is played. Once the phaeton turns around the rear of No. 6 Guard, the music changes to a quick march. The Queen is conveyed back up the line, passing the Household Cavalry and King's Troop stationed on her right, and as the music stops, makes her way back to the saluting base.

Massed bands troop

Massed bands of the foot guards, 16 June 2007

With the Queen once more seated at the saluting base after leaving the coach, the command "Troop!" is given by the Field Officer, and the parade stands at attention and changes arms as a bass drummer gives the signal for the Massed Bands to start their march. (This is not to be confused with the trooping of the colour itself, which occurs later in the ceremony.) Under the command of the Senior Drum Major, the massed bands march and countermarch at Horse Guards Parade in slow and quick time.

The slow march music is traditionally the Waltz from Les Huguenots. During the quick march, a lone drummer from the Corps of Drums breaks away from the massed bands, marching to two paces to the right of No. 1 Guard to take his post.

The Trooping of the Colour phase is initiated by the lone drummer's eight-bar "Drummer's Call", signalling the Captain of No. 1 Guard to cede his command to the Subaltern of No.1 Guard. It slopes arms, while the rest is told to change arms and stands at ease on the direction of the Field Officer.

Escort for the Colour obtains the colour

In the centre, holding his sword and the Colour, the Regimental Sgt-Major of No. 1 Guard. Behind him, wearing a white flag belt, the Ensign waits to receive the Colour, standing in front of No. 1 Guard. To the right, the Corps of Drums.

As Escort For the Colour, No. 1 Guard performs the centrepiece of the parade.

An orderly takes the pace stick from the Regimental Sergeant-Major (RSM), positioned behind the Escort For the Colour, thus freeing the RSM to draw his sword - the only time a British warrant officer ever does so on parade. The Subaltern then commands No. 1 Guard to move into close order, and then dresses it. Then, led by the Subaltern with the Ensign following, and with the Regimental Sergeant-Major marching behind the company, the Escort For the Colour quick marches onto the field to "The British Grenadiers". (This tune is always used irrespective of which regiment's colour is being trooped, because the right flank of every battalion used to be a grenadier company.) The Escort marks time while the Massed Bands "clear the line of march" [12] and move to the front of the Guards and mark time. Fifteen steps away from the Colour Party, the music halts and four paces later, the 'Escort for the Colour' halts in place, and is ordered to open ranks and dressed, followed later by the Massed Bands making an about turn.

The guards are then called to attention and then change and slope arms under the direction of the Field Officer, while the Household Cavalry are also called to attention by the commander of the Sovereign's Escort.

The RSM marches around to the front of the Escort and, followed by the Ensign, approaches the Colour Party. Having saluted the colour with his sword, the Sergeant-Major takes it from the Colour Sergeant, freeing him to change and later slope arms. The RSM turns, marches to the Ensign, and presents the colour to him. The Ensign salutes the colour with his sword, sheathes the sword without taking his eyes off the colour, and takes possession of it.

Having obtained their colour, No. 1 Guard (formerly known as "Escort for the Colour") is now termed "Escort to the Colour." By then, the massed bands, now with the line cleared, face front, with the Corps of Drums, pipe bands and the senior director of music leading.

The Escort positions itself to troop its colour

To the first six bars of "God Save the Queen", the Escort to the Colour presents arms; simultaneously, turning outward at an angle of 90°, the NCOs (non-commissioned officers) at the four corners of the Escort port arms, as symbolic maximum protection for the colour.

The Escort to the Colour and Colour Party slope arms afterwards. The Colour Sergeant marches to the right and to the rear of the Escort. Once the Colour Party, Ensign and Regimental Sergeant-Major have joined the Escort, the RSM repositions himself to the left of and behind of the Escort. The Subaltern then orders the Escort to change arms and commands the slow march.

Spinwheel of the massed bands

As the Escort to the Colour slow marches down the field towards No. 6 Guard to begin their colour trooping, the massed bands perform their unique anti-clockwise "spinwheel" manoeuvre. This, a 90° turn in restricted space, is performed while playing the slow march "Escort to the Colour."

Prime responsibility for the celebrated spinwheel, which is largely individual and instinctive, rests with the Garrison Sergeant Major.

A 'wheel' is not an easy manoeuvre with even a small body of troops, and with a block of 400 men the normal wheel is impossible. The massed band therefore pivots on its own centre, so that certain outer ranks and files march long distances in a hurry while the centre and inner ranks loiter with extreme intent, or merely mark time. Yet others not only step sideways but backwards as well. This highly complex movement is called a 'spin-wheel', the details of which can be found in no drill book or manual of ceremonial. Its complexity defies description, and if the truth were known, many of the participants know not whither they go or, on arrival, how they got there. The spin-wheel is almost an art form and each performance of it, although similar in essentials, is different in detail. Most of the performers are adjusting their actions to suit the needs of the spin-wheel of the moment, having adjusted their movements quite otherwise on other occasions.[13]

Once the Escort reaches the edge of No. 6 Guard, the music stops, and the Field Officer in Brigade Waiting orders the entire parade (except the Escort) to present arms as the trooping proper starts. The music changes to "The Grenadiers' Slow March."

Trooping the colour through the ranks

To the strains of "The Grenadiers' Slow March", the Escort to the Colour then troops the colour down the long line of Nos 6-2 Guards. The colour itself is borne by the Ensign in front of the line of guards, but the ranks of the Escort interweave with their ranks. For Nos 6-2 Guards, who maintain the 'present arms' position, the long trooping, especially on a hot day, requires stamina.[14] As this is done the Massed Bands move back in slow time to their original places.

Eventually the Escort arrives back at its original position as no. 1 Guard - from where it first marched off in quick time. Their Captain, who had temporarily ceded his command to the Subaltern, resumes his command over No. 1 Guard by ordering them to present arms, thus bringing the Escort back in line with Nos 2-6 Guards. The entire parade is now ordered by the Field Officer to slope arms, thus concluding the trooping phase.

The trooping phase is followed by the march-past in slow and quick time of the foot guards and then the Household Cavalry and King's Troop, also in slow and quick time.

Form divisions to prepare for march-past

From front to back: Guards Nos. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 in ranks of two. Background at left: massed bands.

The Field Officer gives the command, "Officers, take post." Nos 1 to 5 Guard then "retire", about-turning and right-forming into review formation. Nos 1 to 5 Guard then about-turn again as the Corps of Drums play. (Since No. 6 Guard is already standing at right angles to the other five companies it does not need to execute this movement.)[15]

Once intervals are established, the Field Officer salutes the Queen and informs her that the foot guards are ready to slow-march, then commands, "Guards will march past in slow and quick time!" and orders the slow march.

Foot guards march past in slow and quick time

Footguards march past in Slow Time at the Colonel's Review in 2008

No. 1 Guard - the Escort - leads the six companies for two circuits of Horse Guards Parade, saluting the Queen as they pass. The corners of the field are negotiated with the complex Left Form manoeuvre. Commands of "Change direction - left!" are followed by "Left...Form!"[16]

At the end of both the slow and quick march-past, the Field Officer rides out to salute the Queen with his sword, telling her that the march-past segment is officially done.

Slow march-past

Neutral slow marches start and conclude this section. The guards are preceded past the saluting base by the Field Officer and the Major of the Parade, who salute the Queen with their swords and eyes right.

To the strains of their regimental marches, each of Nos. 1-6 Guards passes before the Queen with their eyes right, their regimental officers saluting with swords. The leading company, No. 1 Guard - the Escort to the Colour - has a particular honour. The Ensign lowers the colour - the 'flourish'. The Queen acknowledges it with a bow of the head, and the Royal Colonels salute the regiment. Once past the saluting base, the colour is raised again - the 'recover' - and an "eyes front" is ordered.

Each company's salute is acknowledged by the Queen, the Duke, and the Royal Colonels.

Quick march-past

For this circuit, the colour is at the rear of the Escort (No. 1 Guard), protected by the Colour Party. As before, their regimental marches are played as each guard passes before the Queen with eyes right.[17] However, this being a quick march, the officers do not salute with swords, but only with the eyes right instead. As with the slow march-past, neutral marches start and conclude this section.

The massed bands, led by the Corps of Drums and the pipes and drums, march away to allow the mounted bands on to the ground. By then, the foot guards have ended their march, and are now back in place and dressed.

Mounted troops ride past

Blues and Royals, one of the two regiments of the Household Cavalry, in their characteristic red plumes and dark blue uniforms.

The mounted bands, in state dress, led by the two drum horses,[18] and the Director of Music of the Household Cavalry, ride slowly on to the field, traditionally to the tune "Preobrajensky."

It is the turn of Household Cavalry and King's Troop to complete two circuits of Horse Guards Parade. For the horses, slow and quick time correspond to a walk-march and a sitting-trot, respectively.


Salutes are again given to the Queen, and returned by her and the Royal Colonels to the colours as they pass by.

The Royal Horse Artillery, marching to the "Royal Artillery Slow March" and then the "March from Aida", is first, taking precedence over all other units when on parade with its guns. When the King's Troop passes the saluting base, the Queen acknowledges the leading gun as the colour.

The Life Guards, in red jackets and white plumes, are next, followed by the Blues and Royals, in blue jackets and red plumes. The sequence of regimental marches is: "Life Guards' Slow March", followed by "Blues and Royals' Slow March", and then "The Royals."

Riding at the rear of the Household Cavalry are the farriers, one for each regiment, carrying their glinting axes[19] and flanked by a soldier of each regiment. (The Life Guards farrier wears a black plume rather than the usual regimental white.)

The two Household Cavalry regiments take turns to parade and the job of parading the Queen's Cavalry Standard of either of the two regiments alternates yearly between the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals. As the standard passes by, it is flourished in the presence of the Queen, the Duke and the Royal Colonels and after walking past them is recovered.


A state trumpeter of either of the two Household Cavalry regiments plays "The Trot" to signal the beginning of the sitting trot past. "The Keel Row" is traditionally played, and much dust is raised by the horses. As for the Queen's Cavalry Standard, it is just trotted in the presence of the Queen and the Royal Colonels.

As the trot past ends the mounted bands salute the Queen, the drum horse riders crossing their drumsticks above their heads. They then proceed back to the east side of Horse Guards Parade and halt in place.

Preparing for march-off

Members of King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, returning along the Mall.

Their director of music turns inwards on his horse as a signal to the Field Officer that the Household Cavalry and the King's Troop are now in position to formally end the proceedings.

During the final Royal Salute, the colour of No. 1 Guard is lowered to the ground by the Ensign. Forming divisions once more, accompanied by the Corps of Drums, the guards prepare to march off, and the Household Cavalry and the King's Troop leave the field. The Field Officer, after forming the parade for the march-off, then rides towards the saluting base, informing the Queen that the guards are ready to march off the field.

The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery leaves Horse Guards Parade and proceeds to Green Park (adjacent to Buckingham Palace)to formally commence the royal 41-gun salute. (On royal anniversaries only, the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) will also prepare to fire a symbolic royal 62-gun salute at the Tower of London in their honour).

Marching off

Led by the massed bands, the Queen places herself at the head of her foot guards. The entire parade of 1,000 soldiers and 400 musicians marches up the Mall towards Buckingham Palace. The Markers then march off the grounds carrying the regimental company colours on the marker flags. The King's Troop and the HAC, now in place, get ready to commence firing their respective gun salutes during the Royal Family's arrival at the palace. At the same time, the old and new Queen's Guards, now performing the Changing of the Guard in the palace forecourt at the same time as the ceremony being done, also prepare for the royal carriages' arrival and to salute the Queen on her carriage when she arrives.

After the ceremony

Balcony appearance by the Royal Family following the 2012 Trooping the Colour.

The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the ceremony, 15 June 2013

Each year when the Queen returns to Buckingham Palace, two detachments of the new Queen's guard enter the forecourt, forming up opposite the old Queen's guard. The Queen then stops at the gateway together with the Duke of Edinburgh. Standing before the central gateway they then receive the salute of the remainder of the guards and then the mounted troops. As they file past, their regimental marches are played by the massed and mounted bands respectively. The Royal Family observes the spectacle from the balcony.

The Queen's phaeton passes into the palace between the old and new Queen's guards, with both Queen's guards saluting her. The usual semi-daily Changing of the Guard continues on the forecourt of the palace.

The gun salutes begin on the arrival of the Queen at Buckingham Palace, with the King's Troop firing a 41-gun royal salute in Green Park and the Honourable Artillery Company firing a 62-gun royal salute from the Tower of London grounds.

Finally, the Queen and the Royal Family on the palace balcony witness a flypast by the Royal Air Force, often featuring the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Red Arrows.

Regimental marches of the foot guards

Below are links to words and music of the regimental marches of the five foot guards regiments.

Slow marches

  • Grenadier Guards: "The March from Scipio", composed for the First Guards (Grenadier Guards) by Handel. It was presented by Handel to the Regiment before its inclusion in his opera Scipione which was first performed in 1726. (The title and composer's name are anglicised by the Regiment.)[20]
  • Coldstream Guards: "Figaro" (the tune is "Non piu andrai farfallone amoroso" from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro)
  • Scots Guards: "The Garb of Old Gaul" Lyrics and Music
  • Irish Guards: "Let Erin Remember" Lyrics and Music
  • Welsh Guards: "Men of Harlech" Lyrics and Music.

Quick marches Music for all five regiments' quick marches, in order of seniority

List of regiments trooping the colour

Since only one colour can be trooped down the ranks at a time, each year a single battalion of the five Foot Guards regiments is selected to troop its colours.

Year Battalion Regiment Comments
2014 Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards
2013 1st Battalion Welsh Guards non-participant regiment: Irish Guards
2012 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Non-participant regiment: Welsh Guards.
2011 1st Battalion Scots Guards First time a battalion not stationed as part of London District has trooped.
Non-participant regiment: Irish Guards
2010 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Non-participant regiments: Welsh and Irish Guards
2009 1st Battalion Irish Guards Non-participant Guards: Welsh Guards
2008 1st Battalion Welsh Guards
2007 No.7 Company Coldstream Guards The Irish Guards did not appear in this Trooping.
In addition, the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards was originally scheduled to troop their Colour but an operational deployment prevented this.
2006 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Non-participating Guards: Irish Guards
2005 1st Battalion Irish Guards The Welsh Guards did not appear in this Trooping.
2004 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards
2003 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards
2002 1st Battalion Scots Guards Non Participant Guards: Welsh and Irish Guards
2001 Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards

Since 1993, the 2nd Battalions of the Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards and Scots Guards have been in "suspended animation" - they are represented in the parade by the three incremental companies.

The number of soldiers participating in Trooping the Colour in London has declined over the years due to defence budget cuts in Household Division battalions as well as the battalions' commitments to military and peacekeeping operations overseas.[21] This gives some of the units little time to practice ceremonial functions. However, the format of the ceremony has remained the same over the centuries following routines of old battle formations used in the era of musket warfare.


In Australia the Trooping the Queen's Colour takes place annually on the Queen's Birthday Holiday at the Royal Military College, Duntroon in Canberra. The Queen's colour was trooped there for the first time on the Queen's Birthday Parade in 1956, a practice which has continued since then. Colours were first presented to the Corps of Staff Cadets by His Majesty King George VI when, as Duke of York, he visited Australia in 1927. These colours are now lodged in the college's Patterson Hall. Colours were again presented by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 10 May 1988[22] and most recently on 22 October 2011 during a brief visit to Australia, coinciding with RMC Duntroon's centenary year.[23]

The Champion Company of the Corps of Staff Cadets is named after the Sovereign's Company and it carries the Queen Elizabeth II's banner, which was first presented to the Corps of Staff Cadets by Her Majesty the Queen Mother on February 26, 1958. The Sovereign's Company is entitled to carry the banner on all ceremonial parades as well as escorting the Queen's colour during the Trooping of the Colour. The Governor-General of Australia, being Her Majesty's representative in the Commonwealth, is the reviewing officer of the parade.


In Canada the Trooping the Colour ceremony takes place, with a trooping of the Queen's Colour, only for the Queen, members of the Royal Family, the Governor General, or a Lieutenant-Governor, on Remembrance Day, or in honour of the Queen's Birthday, on Victoria Day.[24]

List of regiments trooping the colour in Canada


Also part of the Commonwealth but an independent monarchy, Malaysia performs Trooping the Colours every first Saturday of June, the official birthday of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the elected Malaysian King, in front of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Raja Permaisuri Agong, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the Deputy Prime Minister, and other officials of the Government, and officers of the Malaysian Armed Forces, of which the King is the Commander-in-Chief as prescribed by the Malaysian Constitution of 1957 as amended.

The Malaysian trooping coincides with the publication of an Honours List for the King's Birthday on the same day. It also incorporates many elements of the British Trooping ceremony, including a Royal Procession before and after the parade, The Sovereign's Escort, Saluting Base at Merdeka Square or at the Merdeka Stadium, Royal Inspection, the duties of Field Officer, Major of the Parade and Adjutant officers and the NCO duties of Regt. Sergeant Majors and Color Sergeants, the Royal Salute, 21-gun salutes by the Royal Regiment of Artillery, and flypasts (flying the Malaysian flag and the flags of the Armed forces). It is conducted in Malay and includes prayers, in the Islamic traditions of the Malaysian Armed Forces. Motorized vehicles are used in the Royal Procession from the Royal Malaysian Police. The main differences are that five colours are trooped, covering all three branches of the Armed Forces, and some of marches played are locally composed. This threefold representation is reflected in the composition of the Colours Party, the Escort for/to the Colours and the Massed Military Bands in attendance.

The 2013 event will be held on the second Saturday of June (June 8) for the very first time.


The Singapore Armed Forces performs Trooping the Colours annually in the SAF Day Parade. It is toned down as compared to the British version and is done after the awarding of the State Colours to the Best units of the Army, Navy and Air Force. If new Colours have been consecrated on SAF day, they are usually included in the Trooping, but if otherwise, are Trooped on a separate day. The Escorts to the Colour are usually formed by the Singapore Armed Forces Military Police Command.

See also



  1. Trooping The Colour at Turnipnet's British Military Ceremonial website
  2. Trooping the Colour at the British Monarchy official website
  3. "Queens birthday parade". The Sun. London. 17 May 2007. 
  4. 1981: Queen shot at by youth at BBC 'On this day'—13 June
  5. Captain, Subaltern, and Regimental Sergeant-Major
  6. "March On". unknown date. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  7. p.83 Gow, Michael Trooping the Colour: A History of the Sovereign's Birthday Parade 1988 Souviner Press
  8. Cerimonial for the Army 2008 Amdt 2. British Army. 2008. 
  9. Up to eight Guards companies may take part. Nos. 7 and 8 Guards, if present, would line up next to No. 6 Guard. In 2009, to reflect the successful recruitment efforts of the Irish Guards, there were seven companies of Guards on the field. BBC1 television commentary, 13 June 2009
  10. 2011 marked the first time that the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery did not attend the ceremony since its first appearance in 1997, but instead did the gun salutes on the anniversary of the Queen's coronation and on the Duke of Edinburgh's birthday the day before. The job of handling the salutes was entrusted to the Honourable Artillery Company in the Tower of London grounds with a 62-gun Royal Salute as per tradition.
  11. The phaeton is on display in the Royal Mews.
  12. "Trooping of the Colour". unknown date. Retrieved 13 June 2010. 
  13. Lieutenant-Colonel Rodney Bashford (former (1960-1970) Director of Music for the Grenadier Guards), quoted on "The Massed Bands' Spin-Wheel manoeuvre". unknown date. Retrieved 5 June 2010. 
  14. When the colour passes the spectators, members of the British and foreign armed services, and military attachés of the diplomatic corps salute the colour, as is customary in the British Army.
  15. Also, as No. 6 Guard is always formed on the left of the line by the Coldstream Guards if present, by tradition they do not recognize the command to "retire".
  16. See video of "Left Form" at "The March Past of the Footguards". unknown date. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  17. When the Scots or Irish Guards troop their colours, the regimental pipers move to the front of the massed bands for the march past in quick time. If there are pipers present when another regiment troops, then the pipers remain at the rear of the massed band.
  18. The kettledrum players must manoeuvre the reins of the drum horses with their feet.
  19. The Farrier at Household Cavalry Information (non-official)
  20. Grenadier Guards website
  21. For example, the Welsh Guards, prior to trooping their colour in 2006 had returned from Iraq and were scheduled to redeploy to Bosnia later that year.
  22. [1] Department of Defence Media Release
  23. Royal Military College Queen’s Colours Parade for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II Media release, Australian Department of Defence, 22 October 2011
  24. Department of National Defence; Cadet Instructor Cadre; Pg. 38


  • Her Majesty The Queen's Birthday Parade. Saturday 17 June 2006 and 16 June 2007. Official programme.
  • n.a. The Guards : Changing of the Guard, Trooping the Colour, The Regiments. Norwich: Jarrold Publishing, 2005. A Pitkin Guide. (This revised edition published 1990. Originally published by Macmillan Press Ltd., 1972) ISBN 0-85372-476-8
  • Trooping the Colour. BBC 1 and 2 television coverage, 11 June 2005, 17 June 2006 and 16 June 2007.

External links

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