Imagine the quiet excitement filling my chest when I looked up an events calendar and saw that Trooping the Colour would occur during a June business trip to London. I recruited a few friends to come along, and for the cost of our Tube ticket to Green Park, we had one of the best experiences of our lives.
Trooping the Colour is a British event dating back hundreds of years. It’s a celebration of the Monarch, as well as an annual review of royal guards and troops, and a great event to experience British pomp and circumstance.
The event is unique in that you get a lot of the Royal Family together at once. The Queen, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William, Catherine, Prince Harry, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edwards all participate. If you’re visiting London in June, it’s a much better experience than the typical changing of the guard!
Here’s my guide to Trooping the Colour:
Usually starts around 10:30am.
For the full procession, check out the Wikipedia article. Simply, the foot guards, military bands, and mounted troops begin the parade. The Royal Family follows in carriages and on horse. The troops are reviewed at the Horse Guards (tickets are very limited and given out by lottery). The Royal Family retreats back to Buckingham Palace, and after a short while the guards will remove the barriers at the end of The Mall, form a human chain, and the parade watchers can follow on foot behind them up The Mall to Buckingham Palace. The family appears on the balcony while a 41-gun salute is given and a flyover by the Air Force is performed.
The entire experience ends around 1pm.
Tips and hints
Check online for the date. It’s always a Saturday in June.
There is no cover for the weather, so bring an umbrella and rainjacket if needed. Get there about 90 minutes early for the best seats, but an hour is enough if you have a smaller group. If you have a large group, split up and spend some time in St. James’s Park while the other half saves seats.
Try to get as close to The Royal Society as possible. This is where the guards will first let the public in to walk up The Mall to Buckingham Palace. If you are further down at the end of the Parade, no worries, just walk as fast as you can down the footpath until the crowd stops.
Enjoy the wait and make friends with people around you! Some attendees come every year, which is how we were able to get so many good tips.
There are bathrooms at Marlborough Gate exit of St. James’s Park, and the streets aren’t barricaded until about 20 minutes before the parade starts.
Don’t blink. The family goes by so fast coming and going that you’ll miss them if you look away. We missed Prince William on the first pass.
When the guards remove the barricades, walk down the right side of the street as closely behind the guards as possible. Avoid the center as the crowd will back up. The guards will circle around the memorial and then allow the crowd to move forward. If you are directly behind them, and walk very quickly, you’ll be able to get at the gate of Buckingham without much fuss. Be nice. This is a very polite British crowd, which means little to no shoving, and absolutely no loud talking. They barely even cheered when the Queen rode by!
If you aren’t interested in standing and watching, you can sit on the grass surrounding the outer circle of the Victoria Memorial and watch the experience from a distance.
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