Trooping the Colour has marked the sovereign’s birthday in the UK for more than 200 years – but that was before we faced one of the most unprecedented global pandemics in history. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the parade and flypast at Buckingham Palace has been cancelled, and is set to be replaced with a scaled-back affair at Windsor Castle instead.
For the first time in her 68-year reign, Queen Elizabeth II called off the celebrations on her actual birthday in April – usually held privately with her family – and initially it looked like the official June event would be completely cancelled too.
However it has since been revealed that a small military ceremony will be staged at Windsor Castle in her honour, although it has not yet been confirmed if Her Majesty will attend. She is currently self-isolating at the castle with husband Prince Philip, so it’s possible they could view the display from a safe distance.
Trooping the Colour traditionally involves the participation of more ethan 1400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians, as well as the crowds of thousands that line the streets down The Mall to Horse Guard’s Parade.
The highlight of the display is an RAF fly-past, watched by members of the extended Royal Family from Buckingham Palace balcony, including the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, and the Cambridges and their three children.
As reported by the Daily Mail, the parade will be commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Llewelyn-Usher, leading small contingent of men from the Welsh Guards, accompanied by a reduced group of the Bands of the Household Division. At 11am, there will be a royal salute, but no spectators will be present.
The Queen’s two birthdays follow the precedent set for generations, ever since the reign of King George II. As he was born in the autumn, it was deemed that the weather wouldn’t be appropriate for a large, public celebration, and so another event was scheduled during the warmer months. In line with this, Queen Elizabeth’s Trooping the Colour is now always held on the second Saturday in June.