What is Trooping the Color? Queen, Edward watch birthday parade with Philip gone

In the absence of her spouse, the place beside the queen was filled by Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, who is the monarch's cousin

                            What is Trooping the Color? Queen, Edward watch birthday parade with Philip gone
Queen Elizabeth II's birthday is celebrated at Windsor Castle with the Trooping The Color 2021 ceremony (Twitter/ @RoyalFamily, @royalfocus1)

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her "official" 95th birthday on Saturday, June 12. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place, the Trooping the Colour ceremony was considerably scaled down this year, with a military parade at Windsor Castle.

"The Queen's Colour of F Company Scots Guards @scots_guards was trooped at The Queen's Birthday Parade 2021. Whilst the format was a little different this year, #TroopingtheColour has marked the official birthday of the British Sovereign for over 260 years," the official Twitter account of the royal family posted, following the ceremony. 



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What is Trooping the Color?

Trooping the Colour is a ceremony that has been traditionally held to mark the official birthday of the monarch, according to the official royal website. The parade typically features over 1,400 soldiers dressed in ceremonial uniforms, 200 horses and 400 musicians. All of them proceed in a military-style march on the streets near Buckingham Palace.
The parade follows the route from Buckingham Palace along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and back again. In the pre-pandemic days, the streets where the parade took place, used to be lined with enthusiastic spectators who gathered to watch the annual event as well as wish the queen a happy birthday. During the procession, a flag known as a Regimental Color, is passed down the ranks of soldiers.


In her younger days, the queen attended the event on horseback, but more recently, with her advanced age, she has ridden along in a carriage. Other royal family members also join in the event. During the ceremony, there is also an RAF fly-by, which members of the royal family watch from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. There is also a 41-gun salute from Green Park.


Apart from the crowd gathering in person, the event is usually broadcast live for people all over the world to witness. 

'Mini' Trooping the Color in 2021 over pandemic

This year, however, Trooping the Color did not take place in its “traditional form." As for the people who have already bought tickets, refunds were made available. 

A statement on the official Royal website issued in March this year said: “Following consultation with Government and other relevant parties it has been agreed that The Queen’s Official Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, will not go ahead this year in its traditional form in central London. Options for an alternative Parade, in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle, are being considered.”


The event, viewed as a mini Trooping the Color, featured a military parade at Windsor Castle. Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone, who has been in charge of preparing the celebration, said: "It's been extremely demanding; we've had to tackle Covid like everybody else, with some people needing to isolate and therefore not being able to be on parade."

However, the number of participants in the parade increased this year from last year, which posed a challenge when it came to choreographing the same. "So from a skillset perspective, it's been very difficult to achieve what I hope will be a good standard because we're not doing the Changing of the Guard ceremony every day due to the pandemic - that applies to horses, the musicians and the Guardsmen with their foot drill and rifle drill," Lt Col Stone added. "Last year we had 85 on parade, this year we've got 274, plus 70 horses, so we're really excited about the event having grown and getting us back to normal for next year we hope. It's been very challenging, but we like a challenge."

Prince Edward accompanied the queen

This was the first Trooping the Color ceremony that the queen attended after the demise of her husband, Prince Philip, on April 9. In earlier events, the queen was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh when she attended this event each year since taking the reigns. In the absence of her spouse, that place, beside the queen was reportedly filled by Prince Edward, who is the monarch's cousin. The Duke of Kent had previously accompanied the queen during the parade in 2013 when Philip was unable to attend because he was recovering from surgery.


Although the queen went into a period of mourning after the loss of her husband, she was soon back carrying out her royal duties, which is something that experts think that the duke would have wanted. “Her emotions are very raw right now, but the queen knows Philip would hate it if she sat around moping for the rest of her years,” a royal insider previously told US Weekly. “He would have wanted her to look after herself first and foremost instead and she intends to do her best.” 

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