Firstly, the answers to last week's 'American Trilogy' questions are now posted.
Now, to the important event of this last week - the marriage of William and Kate. If you missed it, where were you? On another planet is the only possible answer. It has been worldwide news and the media have been camped outside Buckingham Palace for most of the week waiting for Friday when we, in Britain, did what we do best - put on a show!
Our Monarchy, ceremonial occasions and traditions seem to be the envy of the world. So, this week I am going to share with you information on some of our other Royal ceremonial occasions.
1. The Changing of the Guard
One of the most popular tourist attractions in London is Buckingham Palace and, particularly the guards at the sentries, in their distinctive red jackets and Busby hats. Every day at 11.30 a.m. there is the 'Changing of the Guard' ceremony carried out by the Brigade of Guards. The Queen's colour is trooped from St. James's Palace to Buckingham Palace,to join the old Palace Guard. The new Guard with a band marches from either Chelsea Barracks or Wellington Barracks to Buckingham Palace, where they form up facing the old Guard. The officers of the old and new Guard advance and touch hands to symbolise the exchange of keys and the changing of the guard. The sentries are relieved and the old guard then returns to the Barracks. When the Queen is in residence at Buckingham palace there are four sentry Guards but when she is absent only two. If the Queen is at Windsor Castle, another changing of the Guard takes place at Windsor at 10.00 a.m.
2.The Ceremony of the Keys.
This ceremony has taken place at the Tower of London every night for the last 700 years. The Chief Warder of the Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters) with his Escort locks the West Gate, Middle and Byward Towers and then returns to the Bloody Tower Archway where he is challenged by the Sentry on duty. After receiving permission to go through the archway, they meet the Main Guard of the Tower. After they present arms, the Chief Warder cries, 'God preserve Queen Elizabeth'. At 10.00 p.m. the bugler sound the Last Post, and the Chief Warder takes the keys to the Resident Governor.
There are also six resident ravens in the Tower of London and a spare. These have been protected since the reign of the reign of Charles II, (1660-1685)who believed that if the ravens left the Tower then the Kingdom would fall.
3. The Trooping of the Colour.
This event takes place on the Queen's Official Birthday (the second Saturday in June) on Horse Guards' Parade, Whitehall. The Brigade of Guards are inspected by the Queen before the Trooping ceremony. The Queen takes the salute as the Guards march past her to the music of massed bands. Finally, the Queen returns to Buckingham Palace at the head of her Guards.
4. The State Opening of Parliament.
This takes place at the Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster) in November, at noon, at the start of each Parliamentary session, and after a General Election. It is a glittering state ceremony dating back to 1523. The Queen travels in the Irish State Coach from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament. In the robing room she puts on her royal robes and crown and to the sound of trumpets from the Heralds she moves to the Throne in the House of Lords. Black Rod summons the Speaker and those from the House of Commons and traditionally knocks on the door of the House of Lords, with the Black Rod, requesting permission to enter. The Lord Chancellor hands the Queen a speech outlining the Government's forthcoming proposals which she reads to the assembled Houses. A few hours before this ceremony, the Yeoman of the Guard carry out another ceremony, searching the vaults of the Houses of Parliament, and then notify the Queen that all is well. This tradition dates from the Gun powder plot of 1605.
5. The Royal Salutes.
These take place at Hyde Park (41 guns) and the Tower of London (62 guns) on a number of occasions throughout the year.
6th February, marking the Queen's accession to the Throne.
21st April, marking the Queen's true birthday.
2nd June, marking the anniversary of the Queen's Coronation.
10th June, marking Prince Philip's birthday
14th June, the Queen's official birthday.
Suddenly, I feel very proud to be British, but then everyone really should be proud of their own heritage. In an era of new discoveries, inventions and change, not always for the better, I leave you with the old adage ...
Thought for the week: Don't throw out the baby with the bath water!