Seeing the Queen





Another week has gone by in London and the new experiences never stop. This week was Trooping the Colour which is the Queen’s birthday parade. Technically the Queen’s birthday is in April, but for her real birthday she celebrates privately. Trooping of the Colour is a public celebration of her birthday because June consistently has better weather than most months.

The Queen in her carriage heading to the ceremony.

My flat mates and I decided to go and stand outside for four hours to watch the event. We were fortunate enough to be very close to the road where the royal family rode down. We did not get to see the actual ceremony because we were positioned by Buckingham palace, but what happens is the Queen inspects her troops and then they salute her.

From our spot we were able to see the royal family go to and from the ceremony and we saw the royal family on the famous balcony of Buckingham Palace. The entire family gathers on the balcony after the 41-cannon salute to the Queen for her birthday and after this, portions of the Royal Airforce do a flyby which everyone watches.

A portion of the Royal Airforce flyby.

One thing during this event that had our section going wild was that the children (who do not go to the salute) were peeking out one of the windows in the Queen’s living quarters in Buckingham Palace. It was fun to see them, but one thing I noticed was that the kids were not waving. Everyone in the crowd was waving at the kids, but they were just watching and not responding. This struck me as odd because usually children love to wave especially when so much attention is on them.

It was incredible to be so close to the royal family and be a bystander to this tradition. Before coming to London, I can honestly say I had never heard of Trooping of the Colour. I of course knew the royal family, especially with the recent royal wedding of Megan and Harry, but I did not know of this tradition which dates back to 1748.

At first when I heard there was a public celebration for the Queen’s birthday, I thought this was a rather odd tradition. Everyone always claims that the British are not as obsessed with the royal family as American’s, but I just do not think this is true. Yes, many Americans follow the royal family on social media, but many people here also follow the royal family just through its rich history. The royal family is celebrated here much like we celebrate our presidents with holidays like President’s Day.

Prince Harry, Megan Markle, Kate Middleton, and Camilla heading to the ceremony.

It seems that we like to follow the royal family on social media and know everything about them, but here people do the same thing with our president. In the US most people do not follow the president and his life very closely and the same is true for many British people with the royal family. It is strange to see how our culture views the monarch and how the British culture views our presidents. Both seem like quite a spectacle to the other, but we still honor and follow the history and importance of our presidents like the British follow the history and importance of their Queen.

The US and UK have many similarities, but also many differences can be seen between our two cultures. We both celebrate similar things, but we do so in vastly different ways that hold different importance to each of us. I feel like every day I notice another difference between the UK and US and I am really excited to see what other differences I will notice.

The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.