The UK has been a country governed by the monarchy since the 9th century. His means that there is plenty of history for tradition to find its basis in. The rituals of the ULK may seem absurd to some, but their stories date back millennia, and understanding how these rituals have come to be can help us to understand why they still occur to this day. With the monarchy being a jewel of pride in the UK’s sense of identity, it can often be baffling to outsiders, especially with terms such as Beef eaters and the “changing of the guard.” Below are some of the main royal traditions which you can still see today, and why they are still being used.
Changing of the guard
The changing of the guard is a ritual which takes place every day at Buckingham Palace. As watched through the gates, you can see the Queen’s Guard, wearing red with a tall black hat, marching in an orderly way that ensures that projects order and pomp. This march can be watched every day and is one of the most ceremonial acts you can watch without paying. This traditions dates back to King Charles II’s rule, who maintained that there was always a guard on duty at all of the royal palaces.
Trooping the colour
Taking place on a Saturday in June, the marching of the colours is organised so as to coincide with the Queen, and historically the monarchs birthday. This march is a ceremony in which the colours of each regiment are shown and marched across Buckingham Palace. This ceremony, and the tradition of “colours” goes back to military training tactics, in which colours were used to help soldiers recognise their ranks and regiments. This acted as a rallying call during battles and has been used as a ceremony since 1748. Trooping the colours takes place in St James Park and the gardens of Buckingham Palace, and is reserved only for ticket holders and guests of the queen herself. If you’re staying at hotels such as the Shaftesbury metropolis London Hyde Park and want to see the trooping of the colour next year, you better get booking quickly as tickets are snapped up in an instant.
Ceremony of the keys
Known as one of the oldest military and state ceremonies in the world, the changing of the keys takes place in the Tower of London every evening. It takes place every time the gates are locked at night. Every night at 9.53pm a Yeoman Warder dressed in a Tudor watchcoat marches past the sentries on duty with the Queens Keys. Each sentry salutes the keys, before the gate is locked and an exchange between a sentry and the Chief Warder takes place. This ceremony can be watched by the last people in the tower, and what makes it even more fascinating is that its origins are unknown.
Gun salutes happen at Buckingham Palace and other royal households whenever a state visitor arrives. This is both a mark of respect and a reminder of British military prowess to all visitors who come to the country. Whether you’re staying in hotels in Barbican London or in West London, you will no doubt hear artillery being fired from the Tower of London, Green Park and Hyde Park during special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.