Happy birthday Your Majesty

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Words by Helen Dorritt

8 June marks the Queen’s official birthday for 2019, so how about a right royal celebration? Here’s what you can do around the network…

See the Household Division Beating Retreat

These annual concerts are performed on the Wednesday and Thursday evenings before the Trooping the Colour ceremony (more on that below). Staged on the Horse Guards Parade, Beating Retreat is a spectacular pageant of music and military skill featuring horses, cannons and fireworks. The tradition goes back to the 1690s and is a truly unique event that can only seen in the UK. This year the Beating Retreat concerts take place on 5 and 6 June – you can buy your tickets here.

Nearest station: London Liverpool Street

Household Division Beating Retreat

Wave your flag at Trooping the Colour

Trooping the Colour, aka the Queen’s Birthday Parade, is the pinnacle of the Queen’s official birthday celebrations – an impressive display of pageantry that this year is taking place on Saturday 8 June. All the soldiers of the Household Division, who are Queen’s personal troops, parade from Buckingham Palace along the Mall, Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and then back to the palace.

With its roots stretching back to the 1660s, it was decided in 1748 that Trooping the Colour would mark the official birthday of the reigning monarch, which the Queen has celebrated on the second Saturday of June since 1959. These days this magnificent spectacle features over 1400 officers, 200 horses and 400 musicians, and includes an impressive flypast by the Royal Air Force, watched by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family from the balcony at Buckingham Palace.

Tickets for seats within the stands are released in January and February each year and are allocated by ballot, but you can also head down to the Mall or St James Park and join in the fun for free.

Nearest station: London Liverpool Street

Trooping the Colour

Visit one of the Queen’s residences

Sandringham is the Queen’s Norfolk estate and is where she spends six weeks of the year, including Christmas. Bought for Victoria and Albert’s son Edward in 1862, the original house on the estate was demolished the following year and rebuilt as the magnificent building you can see today. There’s lots to do during a visit – the house and gardens are open to explore, plus there’s the Sandringham Exhibition and Transport museum, which houses the largest collection of Royal vehicles in one place.

You have to pay to get into the house, garden and museum, but the 243-hectare country park is open free of charge every day of the year – a perfect spot for a birthday picnic!

Nearest station: Kings Lynn, Watlington or Downham Market


Enjoy the royal flypast from Southwold to London

As mentioned above, part of Trooping the Colour features a Royal Air Force flypast with a formation of military aircraft. This year it’s taking place on Saturday 8 June, forming at Southwold around 10am and then flying over Ipswich, Colchester, Chelmsford and into London, reaching Buckingham Palace at 1pm. Military enthusiasts will appreciate the aircraft on display, which has previously included Chinooks, Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancasters, while everyone will love seeing the red, white and blue trails of the Red Arrows.

There will also be rehearsals from 3-5 June, starting in Southwold and flying over RAF Marham in Norfolk.

Nearest stations: Darsham, Halesworth, Ipswich, Colchester, Chelmsford or London Liverpool Street

RAF flypast

Try the Queen’s favourite jam

Essex-based Tiptree has held a Royal Warrant since 1911 and its marmalades, jams and preserves continue to grace the Queen’s table – she even paid the factory a visit in 2010! You can enjoy a taste of this Royal favourite by visiting one of Tiptree’s 10 tearooms, whose locations include Billericay, Colchester and Chelmsford. We think that her Majesty would definitely approve of the sparkling afternoon tea, where you can indulge in sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, patisserie items and a glass of Prosecco.

Want to learn more about other Royal Warrant holders in the Greater Anglia area? Click here for a full list.

Nearest stations: Billericay, Colchester, Chelmsford or Kelvedon

The Queen visits Tiptree

Watch Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace

Taking place every day, the Changing the Guard marks the time when the Old Guard of soldiers on duty at the palace hand over responsibilities to the New Guard. The soldiers keeping a watchful eye on the palace come from one of the five Foot Guards Regiments of the Household Division, and are instantly recognisable with their bright red tunics and bearskin hats. The Changing the Guard ceremony takes place at 10.45am and lasts about 45 minutes. It’s free to watch, but it’s recommended that you turn up early to get a good view.

Nearest station: London Liverpool Street

Changing the Guard

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