Saturday, 15 June 2013


Trooping The Colour is an annual event,  rated the most impressive in terms of visual pomp and pageantry for the entire Royal Year. It is otherwise known as the parade for the Queen's Official Birthday and this year, it is extra-special. QE2 has been on the throne for 60 years, having been crowned in 1953. This is her Golden Jubilee Year.

Buntings on Regent Street proclaiming Her 60th year of reign

The whole Family Firm leaves Buck Palace either seated in carriages or on horseback, escorted by mounted cavalry with shiny pointy brass helmets, military bands and soldiers in bearskin hats, of the type highlighted in posters promoting British tourism overseas.

This is only time when the Royal Family are on public show together, culminating with an appearance at the balcony of Buck Palace, with an RAF flypast ending proceedings.

I was wondering whether I ought to bring the 100-400mm. Luckily I did; the Police controlled the crowd so sringently this time, that the Buck Palace balcony shots would have been impossible without it. They simply did not let the crown overrun the traffic circle around the Victoria Memorial, as they did in times past.

Initially, bands and soldiers march towards Horse Guards Parade along The Mall. They reached our position around 1015. They originated from the direction of Wellington Barracks.

The Metropolitan police provides security along the route

I'm old enough to remember when Bobbies went about their business unarmed, and the fella above seems dressed for bear. Times change.

As do Army personnel

They are spaced out closely along The Mall. Double barriers prevent the crowd from getting too close.

All the Queen's horses...

--- and all the Queen's men.

First of The Firm- Prince Andrew and daughters Beatrice and Eugenie.

Resplendent in Red

The Queen was within her Coach

Bearskin hats effortlessly conceal the identity of the person underneath! But these are Princes William (Colonel of the Irish Guards, grey horse), and Charles (Colonel of the Welsh Guards) , and Princess Anne (Colonel of The Blues and Royals)

Then, the attention of the world shifts to Horse Guards Parade where the salute is taken. Nothing happens on The Mall for over an hour. One just waits to enjoy the wind and sunshine.

Then, at 1210, the troops return to Buck Palace, back along The Mall.

The first contingent returns

No brownie points for correctly naming these Royals. The one in pink is 8 months pregnant, and this will be her last engagement before giving birth to a child who will be third in line to the Throne.

Prince Edward waves. Princess Sophie is on his right

The Queen's coach

Followed by senior Royals. Prince Charles is on the black horse.

At attention on the balcony

There was then a 41-gun salute, fired by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park.

Then, at 1300, a mini-airshow occurs over The Mall


Tristar and VC-10

The Red Arrows trail smoke over the Palace

The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, taking the salute from the RAF.

This site has spectacular photographs, identifying the Royals on the balcony:

At 1315, it is all over. The Army units begin to return to barracks.

King.s Troop Royal Horse Artillery- going back to barracks

With the Royal Standard fluttering to indicate the Queen is in residence, the Palace closes down and the Royals retreat back within. Till next year.

At 1330, the bunting at the Balcony is removed, Festivities over.

A vital service- Cleaning up the horse droppings to be recycled as fertiliser

At 1340, the heavens start pouring, and a quite heavy shower occurs. The timing of the ceremonies is immaculate!

Schoolkids sheltering under a tree at St James Park using emergency ponchos

That's London for you. Unpredictable changing weather, sun and rainstorms, all in a day. Incredible why it is still so cold and blowy this year, with the Summer Solstice just a week away!


To get a clear picture of the Royals on the balcony, you need to be on the roundabout in front of Buckingham Palace. After the Royals returned to the Palace at 1230, I made my way towards Birdcage Walk and the traffic circle, hoping they would open the crowd barriers. But no, they stubbornly stayed shut, and a few people were seen proceeding up from The Mall. The balcony was obstructed by two large pillars as well.

Plan A

No go. Too far, and view obstructed by fencing, pillars and TV camera.

View somewhat blocked by pillars

Then came Plan B: a mad rush back the way I came, to the nearest opening in the crowd barriers, to walk onto The Mall and onto the roundabout

Plan B. Is there enough time?

Back down into St James's Park

Still no opening in the crowd barrier! To many tall spectators blocking the line of vision to the balcony

Finally found that prized opening in the crowd barrier! Running down the Mall like Usain Bolt as the time ticks away

Made it there just as the RAF  Flypast starts. The Royals are already assembled on the balcony. Most people are still trapped behind crowd barriers.

And that's how I managed the shot of the Buck Palace Balcony.  Once you got there, of course, you got a grand view of the military contingents exiting the Palace and marching back to Barracks. So, that's a consolation of sorts for all the exercise expended.

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