“This is a slightly spectacular version of it,” royal expert Gareth Russell exclusively told Us Weekly on Tuesday, June 13. “The first one of a new reign is a bit punchier and has a higher production value. We know that all seven of the regiments will be there, and this is more than we’re used to seeing.”
Trooping the Colour — which takes place this year on Saturday, June 17 — celebrates the official birthday of the sovereign. The traditional parade dates back to the reign of King Charles II, who served from 1660 to 1685. (The current Charles, 74, won’t celebrate his actual birthday until November 14.)
For his first Trooping the Colour as king, Charles plans to revive a tradition that hasn’t been seen for nearly 30 years: he’ll be riding on horseback during the parade. The occasion will mark the first time a royal has saddled up for the event since 1986 when his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, rode one of her beloved horses for the procession. In her later years, the monarch, who died in September 2022, took the salute from a carriage.
“It’s a big event regardless of the scale of it, but because this is the first of Charles III’s reign, we are seeing more soldiers involved,” explained Russell, the author of Do Let’s Have Another Drink!: The Dry Wit and Fizzy Life of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. “[Charles] certainly wanted to take the salute from horseback. It matches the tone of the inaugural, for want of a better word, Trooping of the Colour for his reign.”
Charles’ eldest son, Prince William, may also have a slightly different role in the ceremony after inheriting his father’s previous title. The Duke of Cambridge, 40, became the Prince of Wales after his grandmother’s death, with his wife, Princess Kate, taking the Princess of Wales title.
“There is a very keen determination to present him as the next in line,” Russell explained. “I think … he’ll have moved up. He essentially will be occupying the place that his father occupied at these [events] under the reign of Elizabeth II.”
Earlier this month, William attended a rehearsal for Trooping the Colour where two of the guards fainted in the heat. After the incident made headlines, the Duke of Cornwall publicly shared his gratitude for their service.
“A big thank you to every soldier who took part in the Colonel’s Review this morning in the heat,” William tweeted on Saturday, June 10. “Difficult conditions but you all did a really good job. Thank you.”
While temperatures in London have been unusually hot, the tradition of holding Trooping the Colour in June began because it’s normally a month when the weather in England is pleasant. That custom is one reason the parade is not held at the same time as the monarch’s actual birthday.
“It was merging medieval political theory with the resolutely practical British fear of a washed out, rainy weekend that led to this weekend being picked and sticking with it,” Russell quipped.” And you know what it’s like with Britain and the traditions — once they find something that works, they’re just gonna stick with it.”
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With reporting by Christina Garibaldi