Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Colonel's Review

Today I went to a dress rehearsal of Trooping the Colours, a military ceremony commemorating the monarch's birthday. It is a huge undertaking, and they conduct two full dress rehearsals so that they don't screw up in front of QEII. Apparently, she really knows her stuff and if it's not perfect, well, I imagine they get sent to the Tower of London brig or something.

Our rehearsal was called the Colonel's Review; he stands in for Elizabeth. There were one-thousand-plus troops, both on foot and on mount. First, "Elizabeth" arrives promptly at 11am in her horse-drawn phaeton and inspects the troops. Then, they march around a lot - in slow time and in quick time - to the various marches played by ten different bands. They are in full ceremony gear - meaning most have that giant woolly hat on. After various formations by the foot and mounted soldiers, the queen promptly departs as the clock strikes noon - much like Cinderella. Not sure if her phaeton turns into a pumpkin if she stays any later.

My friend Chris entered a lottery for tickets and happened to get great seats. We would have been far away from the actual queen, but we had a great view of all the soldiers and their synchronous steps. I was personally obsessed with this one soldier who served as a marker for the others; they all marched around him. He couldn't move for the entire ceremony, and it did get a bit hot. Tracy, our one British attendee, told us that one year a soldier passed out from the heat. They're not allowed to move him so he just lay prone on the ground for the remainder of the ceremony. I imagine Elizabeth was not pleased with that performance.

We were also concerned with all the horse poop. I really expected there to be some sort of ceremonial, golden pooper-scooper, but the soldiers just had to stand in it and march through it. Ugh.

It was really a spectacular event. As Tracy said, "this is what the British do best. It makes you proud to be English." I can see why.

Here's what Chris blogged about the event.

No comments: