The Origin of Trooping the Colour
In the Middle Ages, each lord or baron flew his banner as a sign by which his followers could distinguish him in battle. As more flags were created they assumed a diversity of hues and came to be called â€˜Coloursâ€™. By the Civil War, 1642â€“60, Colours were in use for individual Companies and a Battalion would have had ten or more. The Regulations of 1661 established order and in 1707, during Queen Anneâ€™s reign, the number of Colours was reduced to two per Regiment.
The principal role of a Regimentâ€™s Colours was to provide a rallying point on the battlefield. This was essential because, without modern communications, it was all too easy for troops to become disoriented and separated from their unit during the conflict. But if troops were to be able to find their Colours in the chaos of the battlefield they needed to be able to recognise them, and therefore it became the practice to display them regularly.
This was achieved by parading the troops and having an officer march along the ranks with the Colours held high. Colours were last carried into action by the 58th Foot in South Africa in 1881, but â€˜troopingâ€™ ceremonies continue to this day.
The Colours also carry battle honours â€“ the names of places where a Regiment has fought with courage and distinction. As such, they serve as a reminder of hard-won victories, great sacrifice, and the loss of comrades. Before being presented by The Sovereign, a Regimentâ€™s Colours are consecrated in a religious ceremony. For all these reasons, Colours have become icons that symbolise a Regimentâ€™s history and traditions. For Guards Regiments, our Colours also symbolise our direct and enduring link to our Sovereign.
The Sovereignâ€™s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment carries a Sovereignâ€™s Standard which is its equivalent of a Foot Guardsâ€™ Regimental Colour. The lead gun of Kingâ€™s Troop Royal Horse Artillery is signalled in the same way.
The Guards are among the oldest Regiments of the British Army and have served as the personal bodyguards of The Sovereign since the monarchy was restored after the Civil War in 1660. Trooping the Colour is believed to have been first performed during the reign of King Charles II (1660â€“ 85). In 1748 it was decided that this parade would be used to mark the official birthday of The Sovereign. Her Majesty The Queen has taken the salute at every parade since her accession to the throne. Until 1986, Her Majesty The Queen took the salute riding side-saddle on her horse, Burmese, and wearing the uniform of the Regiment whose Colour was being trooped. On this occasion, Her Majesty will take the salute from the saluting dais.
6thh June 1966 - Flypast over Buckingham Palace, Queenâ€™s Official Birthday,
after the Trooping the Colour on Horse Guards Parade of 1st Battalion Irish Guards.
1st Battalion Irish Guards is Trooping it's Colour today. The Colours of the Regiment are one of its great glories and have been carried from its formation to the present day. Each Foot Guards Regiment has two colours, otherwise known as a â€˜standâ€™, comprising the Queenâ€™s Colour and a Regimental Colour. Whenever the Sovereign or a member of the Royal family is present, it is always the Queenâ€™s Colour that is on parade.
The most recent battle honours are Al Basra, of which â€˜Iraq 2003â€™ is inscribed on the Colours. As well as the Regimentâ€™s Battle Honours, the Queenâ€™s Colour also bears the Royal Cypher within the collar of the order of St Patrick. New colours were presented to the 1st Battalion by His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, Colonel of the Regiment, on 17th May 2022 at Windsor Castle.
The Queen takes part in the Trooping the Colour ceremony with 1st Battalion Irish Guards, Horse Guards Parade London, Saturday 14th June 1980.