The Trooping the Colour parade has always been a much-loved tradition. This year was particularly significant, as it marked the first time in many decades that the late Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t present, and as a result, it was King Charles who got to celebrate a “second birthday.” All senior Royal Family members were on hand to help him celebrate, including Prince William, Princess Kate, and their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.
The royal children have always been of tremendous interest, as they are the next generation who stand to take the monarchy into a new era. But what’s unique about this generation of royal children might be that they seem just as normal as any other child, making them more relatable and less… well, royal.
The perfect example is Prince Louis, who’s been seen making silly faces and antics during his few royal engagements. The Trooping the Colour celebration proved no different; he and his siblings once again stole the show – though they were issued stern words from their mother.
Trooping the Colour has been a beloved royal tradition for hundreds of years. The Royal Museums Greenwich states that the event was first started by King George II in 1748.
What is Trooping the Colour? – history, origin
As King George’s November birthday was considered too cold to celebrate outside with a parade, they decided to have his military parade – Trooping the Colour – alongside the public celebration in the summer instead. Therefore, unless any given monarch happens to be born on the same date, they effectively get to celebrate two birthdays a year. Trooping the Colour typically occurs every year on the second Saturday in June.
According to the Royal Museums Greenwich, Trooping the Colour originates on the battlefield. A regiment’s flag, also known as “colors,” was ever an important rallying point for soldiers in battle.
“To ensure that every soldier would be able to recognize their colors, the flag would be marched or ‘trooped’ regularly around the ranks. A regiment’s colors came to have huge significance for serving soldiers, and the gain or loss of colors were seen as decisive moments in battle,” the Royal Museums Greenwich shares on its website.
“This military function gained royal significance during the reign of George II, the first monarch to tie his birthday celebrations into the summer ceremony – even though his actual birthday was in November.
“[King] Edward VII also had a November birthday, and it was during his reign that the summer ‘official’ birthday celebrations were standardized. It was also under [King] Edward VII that the inspection of the troops by the monarch became part of the celebration.”
Over 1,400 soldiers, 400 horses, and 400 musicians participate in Trooping the Colour celebrations. Tradition holds that the monarch will receive a royal salute as he arrives and inspects the troops. The soldiers will wear traditional and classic red ceremonial uniforms and bearskin hats.
Usually, Royal Family members travel in carriages drawn by horses or horseback, though the monarch has historically been on horseback. The late Queen Elizabeth rode in the parade for the last time in 1986 due to her advanced years. That is not so surprising, considering that she was 60 years old at the time.
This year, King Charles revived the tradition of the monarch riding on horseback. However, there were worries beforehand that his health scare would make it a very bad idea.
Royal children attend the Trooping the Colour carriage parade
King Charles has attended the Trooping the Colour event since childhood. He witnessed his grandfather, King George VI, on horseback and then his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
“This is a slightly spectacular version of it,” royal expert Gareth Russell told Us Weekly before the big event. “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.”
Russell added: “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. [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.”
With his son, Prince William, and sister, Princess Anne, King Charles arrived at the Palace on horseback, where they conducted a formal review of the British military. Meanwhile, Queen Camilla and Princess Kate – together with Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis – were taken to the ceremony in a carriage.
The royals last stepped into their carriages during King Charles’ coronation celebration in early May. At that time, Prince Louis made headlines after making funny faces and pressing his face against the carriage window.
The five-year-old, who celebrated his birthday in April, has been known to put on quite the show at royal engagements. This year’s Trooping the Colour celebration was no different.
Prince Louis stole the spotlight at Trooping the Colour
During their carriage ride, the three young royals greeted the crowd of around 8,000 people who had come to celebrate King Charles’s ‘birthday’.
Prince George and Prince Louis wore a navy jacket with a red tie, while Princess Charlotte wore a sweet white dress with red accents. All three children were well-behaved and smiled at the crowd. That was until Prince Louis took it upon himself to become the main character once again.
At one point, Louis was pictured either holding in a sneeze, trying not to openly laugh, or simply reacting to a bad smell. Maybe it was the horses? He then sat up in the carriage and turned around, trying to understand better what was happening around him.
During the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebration last year, Prince Louis was seen misbehaving, sticking out his tongue at his mother and pulling a series of faces.
But it turns out that Kate Middleton had a secret code phrase that she used on her children to get them to calm down. It works every time.
“When Prince Louis misbehaved at the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, for example, by sticking his tongue out at his mother, Kate’s reaction was praised by teams of expert commentators,” author Tom Quinn wrote in his book Gilded Youth: An Intimate History of Growing Up In The Royal Family.
“She used a secret code to calm the children, as she does on occasions — she simply says, ‘Let’s take a break’. But as a former staffer explained, the children know these few words carry far more weight than we might imagine.”
“Mom, George wiped it on his trousers”
Meanwhile, Prince George and Princess Charlotte spoke with each other after what looked like the future king sneezing into his hands during the carriage ride.
According to lip reader Jeremy Freeman, Kate said “Bless you” to her son, but Charlotte had noticed another detail she didn’t feel was royal enough.
“Mom, George wiped it on his trousers,” Freeman claims Charlotte to have said, as reported by the Daily Star.
Now, the Royal Family has many rules and traditions to follow, from how and what to eat, to how to act in public when appearing at royal events and greeting members of the public.
For example, as was shown just weeks ago, royals aren’t permitted to sign autographs to well-wishers wanting a fine souvenir when meeting them.
“I’m not allowed to write my signature. It’s just one of those rules,” Kate Middleton told a group of youngsters while appearing on a picnic at the Chelsea Flower Show in London.
King Charles, Prince William, and Queen Camilla must obey the same rules. According to the Express, the long-standing practice remains due to the risk of the signature being forged.
Although George, Charlotte, and Louis are still very young, some royal rules also apply to them. Charlotte has made sure that her elder brother follows the rules on several occasions, including not forgetting to wave to the crowd while standing on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
Princess Kate order to her children during a carriage ride
Naturally, sometimes an adult has to tell them how to act, and it’s usually Kate that takes on that responsibility. During the Trooping the Colour carriage ride, the children did something which wasn’t royal enough.
As reported by Express, professional lipreader Jeremy Freeman claimed the Princess of Wales gave her children an eight-word order: “Do not look behind whilst on the coach.”
Prince William and Princess Kate have had their hands full with raising their children. On the big Trooping the Colours day, however, it was Kate who had to govern them solo, as William was on horseback.
Speaking to Fabulous, body language expert Judy James also touched on the subject of Kate’s secret signals to ensure her kids remain on their best behavior and are kept feeling “enthusiastic.”
“She beamed with pride when Louis started miming drumming along with the band in the carriage,” James said. “Talking to her children, there were a couple of gestures of what looked like guidance about when to wave.”
“There was also a spreading gesture of both hands that would normally mean quite a severe message of when to stop or what not to do, too,” the body language expert added.
“She also put her hands below public view in the carriage to mime that ‘stop’ or ‘end’ sign to them as though warning them where the boundaries were, and on the way back she was doing small reward nods and smiles for their good behavior, to ensure they were enjoying the event too.”
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