It’s that time of the year when I turn on the television to see colourful ranks of gleaming cuirassiers, guards in tall bearskins and hussar-like horse artillery in action. It’s not a film about Waterloo or Austerlitz, it’s happening live and the event is the annual Trooping of the Colour in Horse Guards Parade in London. It’s an event that goes back to 1748. With over 1500 soldiers and 300 horses, one gets to see a good part of the Household Division parade in their ceremonial uniforms, which are based on 19th century equivalents; and for Suburban Miltiarism this of course makes for great television!
Each of the five Guards infantry regiments takes a turn at trooping it’s colour and for 2016 it was the turn of the Coldstream Guards. Parading with its guns, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery takes precedence as the mounted troops (Life Guards and Blues & Royals) also perform a walk-march and trot-past. The Blues and The Royals were two famous cavalry regiments which eventually merged, both of which were represented in their Waterloo guise in my Nappy Cavalry Project last year.
The King’s Troop is a ceremonial unit which uses six WWI-era 13-pounder field guns used today to fire salutes on state occasions such as the Trooping of the Colour. When parading with it’s guns, the regiment takes first place in the army’s Order of Precedence over any other regiment. Although it’s ceremonial the troop are serving soldiers and a number will be serving in combat roles at any one time. And it is notable that currently almost half of the King’s Troop are female.
All of which just goes to show that as the King’s Troop’s guns fire their salute out across Green Park, this ceremonial occasion is not a relic of the past but a continuum into the present; a blend of the ancient and the modern, the traditional and the innovative, a salute to the British armed forces of yesterday performed by the men and women of today.
Meanwhile, back to military modelling. I’m still working on the final horses for my Perry Miniatures Warwickshire Yeomanry…