Are you in London for Trooping the Colour, and want some tips on how to see it? I’ve done this a fair few times and I’m sharing with you what works for me to see the best of the troops.

Trooping the Colour is a London summer highlight. It is the grand ceremonial event held annually in June to celebrate the official birthday of the Sovereign each year.

Prince of wales at Trooping the colour

My tips are how you get to see the pageantry with the crowds and without. Whilst the main event is sold out, there are still lots of places you can catch all the King’s horses and His troops during the official rehearsals.

Trooping the Colour

What is Trooping The Colour?

First a little background.. It originated in the 17th century to showcase the discipline, synchronisation, pageantry and show off the splendour of the British Army. It involves a display of military precision and coordination, with the highlight being the “trooping” of the regimental flag (or colour) in front of the Monarch. The regiments who troops rotates annually.

Trooping the colour

Something I learnt recently was that the responsibility of carrying the Colour on the Trooping of the Colour Parade falls to the youngest officer. Bearing in mind some of these men and woman are between the ages of 18-25, that is extraordinary. Some have only been in the army a few months.

Trooping the colour

This year it is turn of the Number 9 Company Irish Guards, so expect a few Irish pipes and Irish tunes. The last time a King’s Colour was presented to the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards was by King George in 1940 at Wellington Barracks.

Trooping the colour

The ceremony involves with over 1,400 parading soldiers, 200 horses, and 400 musicians and this year one dog. The Irish Guards are the only Household Division regiment with an official mascot. It is Turlough Mor, the Irish Wolfhound.

Where does Trooping The Colour take place?

The ceremony takes place on Horse Guards Parade. Whilst it takes months of private rehearsals, there are two official rehearsals that take place on the two Saturdays prior to the official Trooping the Colour in front of HM The King.

Trooping the colour

The first is the Major General’s Review, the second is the Colonel in Chief Review. This year it has already been confirmed that the Princess of Wales, who is the Colonel in Chief for the Irish Guards, will not be attending. It has yet to be confirmed who will take her place.

Tips on where to watch Trooping the Colour

The quieter places to watch the troops leave their barracks are on Birdcage Walk and Constitution Hill. Alternatively fight for a space on The Mall, but be prepared to get there before 9am for a good spot. If it is hot make sure you have water, but also be warned there aren’t any toilets close by!

If you are going to watch the rehearsals, The Mall is busy, but not as busy as the Saturday of Trooping the Colour so that is a good time to watch all the action, but without the Royals in their carriages.

Birdcage Walk

If you want to see the marching bands and troops, then position yourself anywhere along Birdcage Walk and watch them come out of Wellington Barracks and march towards Horseguards.

If you are lucky you will also see The King’s Troop, waiting with their horses and keeping them cool under the trees.

Constitution Hill

The mounted Household Cavalry will come from their barracks in Knightsbridge. Position yourself anywhere from Hyde Park, to Wellington Arch, to Constitution Hill and see them head towards Buckingham Palace.

Here they will wait to accompany His Majesty the King with the mounted bank of drums and trumpeters to Horseguards. The King and Queen will be the last to arrive at Horseguards.

Buckingham Palace

Closer to the Palace on the right curve (facing Buckingham Palace) and out in the open you will see the flypast on the actual day and you will see all the Royal carriages leave Buckingham Palace at about 10.40am.
They arrive at Horseguards at 10.50am before the King and Queen at 10.55.
The Trooping the Colour ceremony begins at 11am.

Trooping the colour

St James’s Park

If you are a die hard fan, the curve from The Mall into Horseguards is a prime spot, but you need to be there very early. There you will see all the carriages come in and leave, with all the pom and ceremony of the day. It will also be one of the first spots to open to walk along the Mall for the flypast.

Trooping the Colour | How it ends.

At midday the ceremony comes to a close and the mounted horses begin to leave Horseguards to go back down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace with the Royal party.

Guests will then stream out on to the Mall down towards Buckingham Palace for the Royal Air Force flypast at 1pm. The Red Arrows ending the display with a plume of red, white and blue over the Royal London skyline. All watched by the King and Queen, with members of the Royal Family from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

What else can I see with all the pomp and ceremony

If all this isn’t enough, well there is more after hours and it really is worth doing. Beating the Retreat. It’s just as fantastic with the bands of the Royal Marines and includes the emotive Naval sunset ceremony.
11 & 12 July. Starts at 6.30pm. Ticket £15-40. You get to see everything up close.

On 16, 17 & 18 July, the Household Division have their Military Musical Spectacular. You guessed it … fireworks, massed bands from all regiments and horses on parade. It starts at 7.30 and again, really is wonderful to watch. Tickets from £20 – £45.

I’ve done both. On a summer’s evening start with a picnic in St James’s Park and wander over afterwards. It’s idyllic.