Today may have been one of my favorite days of the whole trip. We watched the footsoldiers and the military bands practice for the Queen's birthday celebration. On June 13th, the troops are presented in a grand parade for the Queen to inspect, and then they escort her to Buckingham Palace. This "trooping of the colour" has been tradition for years. We stood in the rain today to watch them practice.
They started out by marching down to the parade ground from the barracks. Five regiments are supposed to be in the ceremony, but I think we only saw three. The bands led the soldiers down to the parade ground. I could help but smile as memories of high school marching band emerged. I watched the "drum major" come by with his baton and got goosebumps. I have seen a lot of bands in my life, but even in practice the military band was prestine. The horns were polished and all matched. The troops came out in full uniform. I couldn't find one person out of step. The only criticism I had was that they still had music on the lyres, so the horns weren't parallel to the ground (Drum Major at heart!)
They all marched into the parade ground and stood at attention for what probably felt like hours. This was a practice, so they took the time to make sure lines were straight and everybody was perfectly lined up. The rain didn't help them I'm quite sure.
After three parades of band and footsoldiers came down, the soldiers took off their capes. I'm told that they only do this on rainy days. If it rains on June 13th, they will have the same ceremony of taking off the capes. Little jeeps come down and soldiers get out and efficiently collect the capes. Then they put them in the back of the jeeps and ceremoniously drive off. Even collecting the capes was all timed and ceremonious.
Then the troops practiced marching around the parade grounds. The horses brought in the Queen's carriage and they practiced "inspecting the troops." It's really hard to describe exactly what happened without pictures. See the ones below!
I really enjoyed this day because I totally understood what was happening with the bands. I could tell that they were all in step and that they had at least practiced once before this practice because they didn't do a whole lot of shuffling in formation. When all of the bands played together it sounded pristine. At one point, the bands marched toward us on the side of the parade grounds and it was like a wall of sound. I did cringe a little bit during the parts when the snares and the piccolos played together (like old army marching style!). It was cold and rainy so the piccolos were NOT tuned. The only way to really tune a piccolo is by shooting all but one....
Anyways, I really enjoyed today. It was cold and rainy, but I loved every second. I think our group is really blessed. We got to stand on the parade grounds while everybody else had to stand across the street in the park. Our connections (Constable Watson) are truly the greatest. I am glad I got a chance to let my inner band nerd out today!
Here are a couple pictures of the practice!