Busy Summer in the UK

Garter procession (Photo: Philip Allfrey)

Today was Garter Day at Windsor Castle. It is on this day that new members of the Order of the Garter are installed and a service is held at St. Georges Chapel. All members process on foot to the chapel in their velvet robes. The order is unique among other orders of chivalry because the members are selected by Her Majesty without input from the government. Other than royal members, the order tends to include retired military officers, those who have served in senior civil positions and other extraordinary people.

The Garter ceremony is just one of a host of ceremonies going on this summer over in the UK and France. In the last two weeks there has been the State Opening of Parliament, Official State Visit to France, the D-Day Commemorations, Trooping the Colour and the Garter ceremony. While not an official event, Royal Ascot starts tomorrow.

It seems the last big event in the UK for the summer will be the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. Look out for that in July.

Trooping the Colour 2014

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Trooping the Colour 2013 ( Photo: Corporal Paul Shaw/MOD)

What better time to start than the weekend of Trooping the Colour. While I plan to post a breakdown of this centuries old ceremony later, I want to write a few, quick words before the event begins Saturday.

The parade, held at Horse Guards Parade every June, is intended to mark the official (but not actual) birthday of the British monarch. The ceremony is based on a time in military history when the infantry soldiers of Europe’s armies fought in long lines. Flags, or colours, were used to designate different regiments. In the chaos of battle, the colour became an important rallying point, making it necessary for soldiers to know what it looked like. Therefore,  the colour was regularly trooped in front of them so they knew what it looked like.

This Saturday, the Nijmegen Company of the Grenadier Guards will troop their regimental colours. Other regiments taking part include the Coldstream, Scots, Welsh and Irish Foot Guard regiments,  the Household Cavalry and , since 1997, the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. Music is provided by the massed bands of the Foot Guard regiments and the mounted, massed bands of the Household Cavalry.