When engaged in warfare, it’s always a good idea to know who’s on your side, and where they’re located. To make sure of this, British military regiments used to troop their colours in front of soldiers every day. Once used as rallying points, these large embroidered flags now only come out for ceremonial occasions such as the Trooping the Colour ceremony held on the official birthday of England’s reigning monarch.
Regardless of when a king/queen is born, the official birthday is in June because, well, it rains a lot in England, and there’s a better chance of having good weather for celebrations in June than there is in April (when the current monarch, Elizabeth II was born), or, looking to the future, November (when the future Charles III was born). Trooping the Colour involves over fourteen hundred men and officers, two hundred horses, and four hundred musicians, which the monarch reviews and then leads along the parade route from Buckingham Palace, along the Mall, to the Horse Guard Parade near Whitehall, and back again. As a child, I had a jigsaw puzzle of the queen doing this, riding side-saddle on a black horse, but since 1987 she has ridden in a carriage.
It is the Household Division regiments (the queen’s personal troops), that Troop the Colour for her birthday, a different one each year. This year it is the Nijmegen Company of the Grenadier Guards.