Sometimes the traveller gets lucky. Yesterday, Tuesday, Girlahead was in London (she had changed her diary as today there are train strikes, although yesterday he train home was to be VERY late, but that is not part of the story). On her way to meet two dear friends for lunch at DINNER (or was it dinner at LUNCH?) she had to cross Hyde Park Corner (ed: but it’s NOT a corner. Writer: shut up, that’s not part of the story either. Police had stopped all traffic going round the ‘Corner’ to let a procesion past, men and girls and including a mounted band. Imagine carrying a tuba or percussion drums while riding in a mounted procession (ed: stick to the story, whatever it is).
There was the procession, going to rehearse Trooping the Colour. What is it? Let us read the history:
The form of this tremendously popular event dates back to around 1700. During these early days of land warfare, ‘colours’ (the brightly-coloured flags of a battalion) were used as rallying points so they would be visible above the smog and dust of battle. The Roman Eagle was used in a similar way, thrown forward in the fight, in the knowledge that the men would follow to save it. It became customary to carry these colours down the ranks at the end of a day’s march and to solemnly accompany them to the ‘billet’ where they were kept for the night. The billet represented the headquarters of a unit and the battalion’s assembly point in an emergency. The aim of the ceremony was to familiarise each man with the coloured flags that identified his unit, and to guarantee all ranks would recognise their assembly point, especially when stationed in an unfamiliar town.
Each morning, the colours were escorted from the billet back to their position in the battalion ranks. Consequently, the colours came to express the spirit of the regiment and were held in the highest regard.
In time the Regimental Colour has taken on a greater significance. Its folds of embroidered cloth are an important object of reverence and a memorial to lost comrades.
Today, in London, the annual Trooping the Colour is a major tourist event. Oh how lucky, or clever, developers of hotels at Hyde Park Corner because the processions, plural, pass right through the Wellington Arch. This is topped by a sculpture Peace descending on the Quadriga of War, with four lifesize horses. Interestingly, the sculptor, Adrian Jones, 1845-1938, was a full-time army veterinary surgeon who took up sculpting as a retirement hobby.
The owners of THE LANESBOROUGH, LONDON INTERCONTINENTAL PARK LANE (and the future THE PENINSULA LONDON) are astute in that they have that Arch and its quadriga atop are superb making for their properties. And, says Girlahead, when the sun shines it’s the proverbial cherry on the cake.