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Saturday, 11 June 2016

Trooping the Colour

Today, Jean and I saw the Trooping of the Colour outside Buckingham Palace, an annual event in June involving the ceremonial wings of various of the Queen's armed forces and the Household Cavalry as well as the Queen herself.  There are many military traditions associated with the event.  It also is the event which marks the sovereign's birthday.
We walked all the way from our hotel in Pimlico through St James' Park to the Mall.  It was about 10 to 10 when we found a reasonable spot in front of the Palace - across the road from the Victoria Memorial -  to stand and wait for the action.  For more than three hours we stood there.  At first, we weren't surrounded by many people but the numbers waxed and waned over the coming few hours.  In front of us were two enthusiastic English women and a tall, imperturbable Chinese man.  I was keen for the Chinese man to move on to somewhere else as he was tall and blocking my view a little.  He stayed until the end.
To celebrate the Queen's official 90th birthday, people arrived in colourful costumes and waved Union Jack flags in the thousands.  The English women in front of us took 'selfies' of themselves with the Palace behind, and, at one point, they asked me to snap them draped in a huge Union Jack.  Afterwards, they pulled out the champagne, sipping happily and toasting the Queen and the absent rain.  We silly sods didn't even bring water to drink, and for over three hours we stood still, chair-less and drink-less, getting bad backs, sore feet, and dry throats on a muggy June day in London.

One after the other, the various regiments marched toward the Palace to the sound of the drum and a variety of military band music.  At about 10.45, carriages carrying various members of the Royal Family emerged from the Palace, and proceeded down the Mall to Horseguards Parade.  Camilla and Kate were in one.  Prince William was on a horse.  The Queen emerged last in a separate carriage.  About an hour or so later, they all returned down the Mall except the Queen.  Her family climbed to the Buckingham Palace balcony, and observed the Queen's return from Horseguards.  Just before 1pm, the Queen appeared on the balcony, waiting for the Fly Past.  At 1pm, a series of fly pasts occurred, all very slow aircraft flying down above the Mall and over the Palace.  Finally, something like the Roulettes followed the same route but rapidly, leaving red, white and blue smoke trails in the sky behind them.
The Queen appears in the middle doorway on the balcony.
When it was all over, the crowd began the simultaneous, painfully slow exit from the area around Buckingham Palace.  We headed towards Buckingham Palace Road, turned right at the Bag o' Nails pub and proceeded north, where we intended to get into Hyde Park.

The Royal Standard flies above Buckingham Palace whenever the Queen is in residence.

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