London Life Events

trooping the colour – colonel’s review

June 13, 2013

Last friday afternoon i got a rather lovely phone call from my neighbours john and elaine offering me a pair of tickets for trooping the colour for the following morning. After a moments reflection, followed by a prompt acceptance, the excitement started to kick in. This was my second visit (read about my first one here) and on both occasions tickets were gifted to me at the last moment!

It’s probably not a bad idea to write a more comprehensive post on this most wonderful event, with all the information i never knew:-) Instead of showing you tons of photos, isn’t it more fun to make this post into little animated gifs to try and recapture the sheer beauty and magic?

Trooping the colour is a ceremony performed by regiments of the british and commonwealth armies since the 17th century, and since 1748 also marks the official birthday of the british sovereign. It is also known as the queens birthday parade.

Every year there are three parades, all held on consequent saturdays in june. The first one is the major general’s review, the second one is the rehearsal, also known as the colonel’s review (the one i attended last saturday) and finally the week after it’s her majesty the queen’s birthday parade.

Tickets for seated stands around horse guards parade are allocated by ballot in march. Applications should be made in January or February only. 

In case of an animation not working, simply click on it. That will activate it. Then click the back button to return to the post!


Regimental flags of the british army were historically described as ‘colours’ because they displayed the uniform colours and insignia worn by the soldiers of different units. The name ‘colour’ continues to be used to this day. The principle role of a regiment’s colours was to provide a rallying point on the battlefield.

Since the guards taking part in the parade have always been the sovereign’s own household troops, it became a tradition for the soldiers of these regiments to troop their colours in turn. Today, this colourful spectacle remains a celebration of the sovereign’s official birthday. Although the queen’s actual birthday is the 21st april, her ‘official birthday’ is marked by the trooping the colour ceremony.


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. These are irish guards, welsh guards, coldstream guards, scots guards and grenadier guards.

This year, as well as back in 2006 when i last attended, it was the welsh guard’s turn.

Apparently, most years, at least one guard will faint. That’s due to wearing the heavy bearskins and standing for long periods in the heat. This year it happened literally infront of us. Within seconds, the guard is carried away on a stretcher. Rumour has it the shamed guard get’s a real talking to because he hasn’t fulfilled his duty and has been negligent. Furthermore, to our surprise, they never filled the gap and that remains like this for the rest of the ceremony! A thought crossed my mind. Would they also be told off for not falling down to attention? The jury is out and any inside information would be much appreciated.


The parade includes the following phases:

1. march on
2. arrival of sovereign
3. inspection of the line
4. massed bands troop
5. collection of the colour to be trooped by the escort (no.1 guard)
6. trooping the colour through the ranks in slow time
7. march past by foot guards in slow and quick time
8. ride past by the king’s troop royal horse artillery and the household cavalry
9. march off

The guards here are marching in slow time around horse guards parade. Straight lines and precision drill are the order of the day. They practice endlessly to ensure that the correct column distance is maintained. As the ‘colour’ passes to your front, you are requested to stand and sit down once it has passed.


Ah, the horses, my favourite part of the ceremony!

The king’s troop royal horse artillery, the life guards and the blues and royals, accompanied by the household cavalry mounted bands, now ride past.

Here are the life guards on horses riding past.


These below are the blues and royals.



The king’s troop royal horse artillery, here below, leads the divisions because the guns of the royal horse artillery take precedence over all other units when on parade.



And finally, prince charles attended the colonel’s review, the final rehearsal for trooping the colour to be held this saturday with the queen present. Many thought he wouldn’t be on a horse, but hey, those people of little faith, there he was in full glory, wearing full attire with the mandatory blue sash and mounted on a horse! On saturday ‘mummy’ will be sitting in the carriage!

This year the queen will attend without the duke of edinburgh, as prince philip is recovering in hospital after exploratory surgery.


It was a warm and sunny day (luckily) and we loved every minute. It remains for me to say a big thank you to john and elaine for their generosity.

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  • Reply Louise - 30s Magazine June 13, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    OMG this is brilliant! You are a gif wizz. It’s almost like a video. I’m amazed you are a genius!

    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      Ha. It’s almost like a video…hint, hint! Thank you x

  • Reply Judith June 13, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Hahahaa wonderful to see that you are so much enjoying creating animated gifs! Bravo Tina 🙂

    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Hello teacher. It’s always encouraging when a student takes it to the next step, n’est-ce pas? Merci Judith.

  • Reply Nicola June 13, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    So that’s why they call it Trooping The Colour! You learn something new every day.

    It really is a splendid display – made even the more splendid by your gifs. Great explanation of it all too, think I’ll apply next year xx

    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      Hahaha. Yes, I enjoyed learning so much more about it too:-)

      I thin k you’ll love it xx

  • Reply Anya Jensen June 13, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Loving the gifs Tina, and the horses are so FAB too. What a lovely gift to receive last minute and the weather looked great. I felt sorry for the fallen soldier though – poor chap 😉
    Have a lovely day,

    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      Haha. I just had to put in the ‘fainted soldier’. It did make the story though, right???
      Glad you enjoyed xx

  • Reply leah of sang the bird June 13, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    You are so clever Miss T. Your gifs are awesome!! It creates such a different feeling to your post! I feel so sorry for the fallen guard…. Poor boy.

    It’s friday here. Happy almost weekend honey xx

    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      I think the subject matter lent itself to the gifs:-)) You’re all such softies about the fallen guard. It’s their job and to be honest, it wasn’t even that hot. Today was the hottest day and really humid. Thanks lovely xx

  • Reply James Balston June 14, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Love it, well done, although slightly doing my head in! Moving pictures? It’ll never catch on!

    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      Hahahahahaha, yes can see why it does your head in…. Hahahaha, get with the programe Mr photographer.
      Great to see you today x

  • Reply Tania June 14, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I love it fabulous animation bringing the whole spectacle alive!

    You cannot beat a bit of English pomp and ceremony and you have captured it perfectly,


    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      Yes, you British are masters at British pomp and ceremonies. I don’t think anyone else beats you…..thanks Tania

  • Reply Lena June 14, 2013 at 9:48 am

    What a great idea to tell the story in gifs. Feeling a little dizzy now, though… My favorite is – of course – the fainted guard who is carried away. Sorry – but it’s a tiny little bit funny.

    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      Hahaha. Another dizzy one:-)) Oh, yes, I totally share your humour. It’s hilarious and I’m sure he awoke feeling awful about it:-)

  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey June 14, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Well I must salute you for the gif wizardry. Very impressive & rather cool too. Thanks for explaining the ‘colours’ bit.

    I am always curious about this type of pageantry. As someone who would be more than happy to be part of a Republic, I have very little time for any of the monarchy.

    I’m sure the guard who fainted must have been mortified in the end. Poor guy.


    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:40 pm

      The ‘GIF WIZARDY” Always loving your wordsmith skills!

      When my nephew was little I introduced him to the guards and he totally got obsessed. I had to learn my ‘colours’ then:-)

      I know your views on the monarchy. Thanks for being a good sport here and looking beyond it xx

  • Reply Oum June 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

    So much better than just a video or a picture ! But I feel sorry for the guy who fainted, bet he will be hearing about this for years to come …

    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      Ha. Thanks Oum and nice to see you here. How did you like London? Di you girls have a good time?
      Yes, in that line of work, he will never live this down!!! Anyway, something to tell his grandchildren!

  • Reply Igor June 14, 2013 at 11:55 am

    So, I hope the mean machine will let me comment now: I wanted to shout out that you’re the new animated gif master! I need a lesson anytime soon! Big hugs from a rather grey Munich today. Bises!

    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      ‘The new animated gif master… liking it!!! Bises back, my friend!

  • Reply Catherine June 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Tina, your photos and gifs are absolutely BRILLIANT!!!! Outstanding!!!!
    Thank you for explaining the ceremony so well, looks like you had a great day and the weather was so good. Nobody does this kind of pomp and ceremony better than the english. The way the guard that fainted is treated afterwards infuriates me. xx

    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:44 pm

      Thanks Catherine:-)

      Don’t be infuriated. It’s their job to serve and part of it is to be prepared, be hydrated and strong on the day of the parade. Who knows what happened, but don’t worry, he’ll be fine (after a strong telling off) xx

  • Reply Parisbreakfast June 14, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Fabulous GIFs Tina!!!
    They worked without wifi on the train from Giverny!

    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      I know. How incredible. I could also see it perfectly on my iPhone when not on Wi-fi.
      Glad you enjoyed. Thanks Carol.

  • Reply Louisa Blackmore June 19, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Wow Tina what an amazing opportunity! I love seeing all their different uniforms – blues & royal are my favourite – so shiny! I remember when husband was at sandhurst they used to soak their shirts in icy water and put them on at the very last second before they got dressed to keep them cool during parades. The thick woollen jackets and all the bits and bobs get so hot and heavy. I tried our friend’s bearskin on recently – they are not heavy at all and have a mini helmet inside that keeps them secure. I looked ridiculous!

    • Reply tina June 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      Isn’t it incredible? When taking some of the photographs of the horses I stood very close. You could really se all the glory of the uniforms, the horses et cetera.

      Love the story about soaking the shirts in icy water…. that’s genius.
      Truth be told it wasn’t that hot on the day…

      Love that you tried a friend’s bearskin… why didn’t you take any pics, or did you????? Bet you looked cute xx

  • Reply Holly June 23, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Wow! What an event! As you’ve said to me before, The British just know how to do these things, and you my dear, certainly know how to capture it for us. Fabulous! Great work with the gifs Tina! I have to learn how to do this too. Actually, I wanted to do my first one documenting my consumption of one of the most delicious burgers I’ve ever eaten this week. Start with the full burger, then one bite, two bites, three bits, gone – sort of thing. But it turned out to be such a messy affair, I didn’t think anyone would appreciate seeing it, lol. Nevertheless it was delicious 🙂

    So the whole fainting guard thing leaves me a bit disturbed though … that they would be “punished” for fainting seems a bit rough. I’ve never fainted before, but I don’t think it is something you can control.

    Off to repost one of your gifs now. The fifth on in my favourite!


    • Reply tina July 1, 2013 at 12:57 am

      Hahaha. That must have been difficult to stage the devouring of a burger! I would just want to eat it all and forget about the camera:-)

      As I said in another comment. Yes, it sounds harsh but that’s their job and I think they get too de-hydrated, either drinking too little water or drinking alcohol the day before.

      Thanks love xx

  • Reply Doris June 24, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Hi Tina, sorry for the late comment! The animated gifs are awesome! You chose the perfect subject to animate with all the soldiers and horses. It would have been spectacular to see! xD

    • Reply tina July 1, 2013 at 12:58 am

      Hiya. Thanks. I also thought it was a pretty good subject matter to animate.
      It was rather spectacular and so am happy I’ve documented it. Hope you’re are well and that you’re all healing!

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