This weeks Birthday Parade
This week we anticipate the Queen’s Birthday Parade on Saturday 8th June. As we write, those personnel taking part are busy ‘on parade’ for the State Visit Ceremonial element for USA President Donald Trump.
The Monarch’s birthday has been celebrated in the United Kingdom since 1748, during the reign of King George II.
Queen Elizabeth’s ‘Official Birthday’ was originally celebrated on the second Thursday of June, the same day that her father, King George VI, celebrated his. However, this was changed in 1959, seven years after she became Queen, and her Official Birthday has since been celebrated on the second Saturday of June, almost two months after her date of birth on the 21st April.
It was Edward VII, who reigned from 1901 to 1910 and whose birthday was on 9 November, that moved the ceremony to summer in the hope of better weather.
Establishing the Tradition
The content of Sovereign’s Birthday Parade, or Trooping of the Colour, was established around 1805 during the reign of Queen Victoria. Music accompanies practically every movement that takes place, from the troops leaving barracks to their return some 3 hours later – so there’s a lot of it. Each of the five bands of the Foot Guards separately lead soldiers to Horse Guard’s parade, therefore respective Directors of Music select what they play, and the Director of Music of the Regiment whose Colour is being Trooped selects the music for the parade which is all then approved by the Major General, London District who, by the way, commands all the bands in the Corps of Army Music.
A Grenadier Troop
This year, it being a Grenadier Colour that will be Trooped, amongst other special music, for the first time a new March has been written by a Grenadier Band member, Tuba player, Lance Sergeant Ian Shepherd, that cleverly includes references to the Regiment’s music, embracing Scipio by Handel, the ubiquitous British Grenadiers and the Duke of York march. The title of the new march is Twice the Man so listen and look out for it; it’ll set your feet tapping to be sure.
You’ll notice that all the Foot Guards Musicians will be wearing their Bearskin caps, common for outside performances and up until 1897 worn indoors as well. On the occasion of a Banquet that Jubilee year at Windsor Castle, one extremely warm evening, during the first item played, Queen Victoria noticed the discomfort of those performing and sent a message to then Bandmaster Mr Mackenzie-Rogan, that they may remove headdress for the remainder of the evening. That gesture sustains to this day.
Of course it’s not only UK that marks their Sovereign’s birthday with military ceremonies and parades; it is common practice to show off and what better way to do it but with Soldiers marching, mounted Troops, Field Guns Driving Past, Corps of Drums, Massed Pipers and Military Bands both on foot and mounted on horseback.