Trooping the Colour: 2018 Royal Travel Guide

by | Feb 10, 2018 | Royal Travel Guide

The grandest military occasion is the Queen’s Birthday Parade, better known as Trooping the Colour. For anyone interested in the royal family, the military or seeing British history come alive, this is the event to see. Around 1,400 soldiers of the Household Division and King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery as well as 400 musicians take part in the elaborate ceremony that dates back to the 17th century. The maneouvres and instructions are so complicated that they handed down orally from generation to generation of soldiers.

The queen has taken the salute at every parade of her reign but one. As the biggest annual event on the royal calendar, it’s the best chance to see the Queen and her family in one location. Even better, it’s in central London, on a Saturday. And ends with a famous balcony appearance by the royal family. It is simply the ultimate royal event.

It’s also enormously popular. Too popular.


Those wanting to attend have to enter a ballot (also known as a lottery) for up to four tickets through the official Queen’s Birthday Parade (QBP) website belonging to the British Army: QBP.Army.MoD.UK.

The deadline for the QBP ballot is March 1, 2018. Successful applicants will be notified in March.

Luckily for those wanting to see the military parade, tickets for the two preview reviews (Major-General’s and Colonel’s reviews) held on the Saturdays prior to the QBP, can be purchased immediately through the website. As so many apply to the ballot to attend the QBP that visitors may want to consider getting tickets to one of these reviews.



Citizens of the Queen’s 15 overseas realm nations (Canada, New Zealand, Australia etc) wanting to go to the Queen’s Birthday Parade, should inquire first through your High Commission in London.

The High Commissions run their own, separate ballots/lotteries (Canada’s is here), with much better odds of success than the main one. And they may give priority to citizens who have never seen the review before.

NOTE: The rules and deadlines can be completely different. So contact your High Commission as early as possible. If they don’t offer a separate draw, then there’s still time to apply to the main ballot. In the past, the officials running the main QBP ballot forwarded applications from realm nations to the High Commissions.

Trooping the Colour kate Middleton Camilla Parker Bowles Prince Harry 2016


  • High turnout by members of the royal family mean it’s one of the best chances to see the Windsors close-up.
  • While some ride behind the Queen, the rest wear their finest outfits while attending in horse-drawn carriages.
  • All eventually end up back at Buckingham Palace, where they will appear on the balcony to watch the flypast by the Royal Air Force.
  • It’s usually then that the smallest children make an appearance.
Trooping the Colour Queen Elizabeth II Prince Philip carriage 2016
Trooping the Colour mounted musical troop Household Cavalry 2016
Trooping the Colour guard inspection 2016


  • Dress smartly, as the reviews are formal events.
  • Suits and ties for the men, equivalent for the women.
  • Entry can be denied for improper dress so no denim or casual T-shirts.
  • Wear practical shoes. The crowds will be big, the distances longer than expected.
  • Hats are strongly recommended as the stands are uncovered/
  • No umbrellas are allowed, so check the weather


May 26, 2018

The first dress rehearsal is the same as the Queen’s parade, except that the soldiers are inspected by Major General Ben Bathurst.

Logistics: 10 am to 12:25 pm

Arrival time: At least 60 minutes early for security searches

Tickets: Seated £5, standing £2, wheelchair (plus carer) £5

How to buy tickets: Go to the official Queen’s Birthday Parade website of the British Army

How to get there: Horse Guards Parade will be surrounded by a maze of restricted areas. Take public transit, print off a map from the QBP website (in case mobile signals are overloaded) and, in doubt, ask for directions to the correct entry point.


June 2, 2018

The salute at the second rehearsal parade is taken by Lieutenant General Sir James Bucknall, Colonel of the Coldstream Guards.

Logistics: same as above

Arrival time: same as above

Tickets: Seated £10, standing £2, wheelchair (plus carer) £10

How to buy tickets: same as above

How to get there: same as above


June 9, 2018

The epitome of British military precision starts and ends precisely on time, always. Queen Elizabeth II takes the salute.

Logistics: same as above

Arrival time: The website says “at least” 60 minutes, but consider even earlier as lines for security searches will be long and slow.

Tickets: Seated £35, standing £2, wheelchair (plus carer) £35 (Maximum 4 tickets)

How to buy tickets: Enter the online ballot (lottery) that closes on MARCH 1, 2018. Only successful applicants are notified later that month. Standing tickets are available from March 2.

How to get there: same as above



Watch the soldiers (and royals on June 9) march to and from the parade ground from a public vantage point.

There are plenty of good spots between Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards Parade.  


Attend one of the reviews. Buy the official souvenir programme, which is packed with information about the reviews. It is sold by uniformed guardsmen near the entry points to Horse Guards Parade at each event. Cost is £5 (cash only)


Bring a good camera but keep big, professional lenses at home.

Security is tight, the event is formal, the seats are close together, so don’t think you can move around to get a perfect shot.

Trooping the Colour Household Cavalry King's Horse Royal Artillery 2016