Aaand welcome to the best day ever – June 8, 2019! We planned our entire trip around this one day. It had been my lifelong dream to see the Queen and her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and I knew Trooping the Colour would be the event for accomplishing just that! Pinch me. We made it! This post covers the first part of the parade.
We got up early and had a good, hearty breakfast downstairs at the hotel restaurant and headed out into the drizzle and wind. We jumped on the Tube to St James Park and followed the signs for Buckingham Palace. We arrived on the Mall around 7:30am and found it pretty empty. Yay! We had our pick of spots so we headed towards Horse Guards Parade and found a place on the barricades that looked good to us. We were next to a woman who looked like she knew what she was doing so I asked her if we were in a good place. She replied “oh, yes! Stay right here. You’ll see everything and then they will open the gates so you can follow the Queen’s carriage to Buckingham Palace.” Excellent!
The Queen wasn’t due to come past until 11am on the dot, so we had some waiting to do. We were kept well-entertained by watching the security/military personnel do their last minute checks and get everything in order before the big moment. My sweet neighbour lady was also giving us a running commentary of the events unfolding right in front of us. She had attended the parade for many years and knew all the different groups of soldiers. It was certainly serendipitous to be waiting next to her. I just wish I’d given her my email address to share our photos with her! Argh!
The only real problem of the day was the wind. It was blowing gusts of pollen from the trees all over the gathering crowd. The coughing, sneezing and eye-watering were almost unbearable! Almost.
The guards on the Mall were very well looked after by their superiors and were checked on constantly, the pollen brushed from their uniforms and the occasional barley sugar popped into their mouths to keep up their stamina.
Here come the Royal family ahead of the Queen’s carriage!
The Queen is on her way, but first…we couldn’t get over this guy riding a massive horse playing massive drums. He was steering with his feet and keeping perfect time on those drums and the horse didn’t flinch one bit! Overall, all of the 300 horses were incredible. Some horses had feet as big as oversized dinner plates! They were truly beautiful and I felt quite privileged to see them!
Here comes the birthday girl (am I allowed to say that?!)! No doubt the wind/pollen situation prevented her from being in an open carriage this time. I felt a little sad she was in there by herself. Aww. The Duke of Ediburgh has retired from royal duties. She didn’t turn around to face our side of the Mall during this section of the parade, but she did on the return trip and that’s where my zoom lens came out so be sure to check out Part 2 next week.
Oh, she’s so lovely and was followed by her 2 future successors on horseback – Prince Charles and Prince William. What a sight! I’m absolutely beside myself at this point and struggling a little between looking through my camera lens and seeing them with my own eyes.
The Queen’s carriage and remainder of the horses and guards went into Horse Guard’s Parade behind us and would be there for the next hour while she inspects her troops as tradition dictates. I had entered us in the ballot for tickets but was unsuccessful. Maybe some other time, although I really enjoyed being on the Mall.
Tips: Arrive early. Comfortable shoes, clothes and raincoat are a must. If you can find little folding chairs, take them. If you’re prone to allergies, an allergy pill in the morning might be a good idea. That pollen was brutal! Take some snacks, but don’t drink a lot – bathrooms are few and you don’t want to lose your spot. Take your best zoom lens. The carriages move faster than I thought so be prepared with your camera! And get the Official Programme for £5; it’s an excellent memento.
Next up: the parade’s return trip to Buckingham Palace and the balcony appearance!