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Traditions: Trooping the Colour

To think about the traditions that form part of our lives.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To think about the traditions that form part of our lives.

Preparation and materials


  1. Play an association game. The children are asked to link three different words with a fourth word that connects them all. For example:

    Presents, Cake, Games – Party or Birthday party
    Turkey, Crackers, Nativity scene – Christmas
    Hats, Horses, Strawberry teas – Royal Ascot

    Include any that are appropriate to your school or locality.
  2. Introduce the word ‘tradition’. Tradition means ‘handed down’ or ‘handed over’.

    People have been enjoying presents, cake and games at birthday parties for as long as we can remember. Ask the children what happens in their homes at a birthday time.

    Turkey, crackers and nativity scenes are part of our Christmas tradition. Thousands of homes all over the UK celebrate in this way at Christmas.
  3. In our families we often share special traditions. Maybe it is something simple, like when we go to Grandma’s we always do such and such. Or perhaps Saturday night is fish-and-chip night.

    Allow children to share their family traditions. These might include religious practices. You could mention Shabbat as a special tradition that Jewish children share with their families every Friday evening to Saturday; going to church as a special tradition that Christian families do on a Sunday; or something appropriate to your school family.
  4. We sometimes share traditions with a wider community. Discuss any school traditions and local traditions.
  5. Sometimes traditions are shared by a whole country. A tradition gives us a sense of belonging and can even make us feel proud and safe. Explain the tradition of the Trooping of Colour.

    Begin by asking the children how many of them enjoy birthdays. How would they feel about having two every year? Our Queen Elizabeth celebrates two birthdays every year. One is her actual birthday, the other is a public celebration of her reign. This tradition of a reigning monarch having two birthdays dates back to a time when it was decided that, because if monarchs were born in winter the weather may be unsuitable for celebration events to be held outdoors, the best time to celebrate a monarch’s reign would be in the summer.

    The Queen’s actual birthday is 21 April. Her official birthday is the second Saturday in June, which this year is 13 June. On that day we celebrate a tradition called Trooping the Colour.

    In 1748 the celebration of the official birthday of the sovereign was merged with Trooping the Colour. This is a tradition going back to the days when the Colours (or flag of the regiment) was trooped, or carried past all the soldiers to make sure that everyone fighting would be able to recognize their flag in battle.

    Today there is a big parade in London with the Queen’s Guards and Household Cavalry. The Queen used to inspect this parade on horseback, but nowadays she rides round her regiment in an open carriage.

    The event finishes with the Royal Family gathering at 1 p.m. on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a flypast by the RAF.

    Thousands of people go to see this traditional parade every year, and many tourists join them from all over the world.

    Show a video clip.

Time for reflection


Imagine going to London to watch Trooping the Colour.
Which part would you enjoy most?
How does watching the event make you feel?

Dear God,
We thank you for our country.

We thank you that we belong here.

We thank you for all the traditions that we share.
We pray for our Queen Elizabeth.

We thank you for her love for this land and for how she has served our country so faithfully over many years.

Bless her as she celebrates her official birthday this month.

Publication date: June 2009   (Vol.11 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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