This year, Trooping the Colour will take place on June 17, and as part of that tradition, various members of the Queen's family will join her up on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. This isn't just a casual family jaunt into the open air—there's a strict protocol about who gets an invite. And of
WHO STANDS ON THE BALCONY?
There's no fixed list of
WHO STARTED THE TRADITION?
As with many recent royal practices, this one was started by Queen Victoria. During the opening celebrations of the Great Exhibition in 1851, she was the first monarch to
The royal family following George VI’s coronation. In the front on the left is a young Princess Elizabeth next to her sister, Margaret.
WHO STANDS WHERE?
The Queen and Prince Philip usually stand in the centre of the balcony, unless it's a royal wedding, in which case the bride and groom take
ON WHICH OCCASIONS DO THE FAMILY APPEAR?
The most regular—and the one with the largest group—is Trooping the Colour, the annual celebration of the sovereign's birthday, which is always held on a Saturday in June. After the Queen inspects her troops, she and her family process in carriages back to Buckingham Palace where they make their traditional balcony appearance. Invitees include descendants of the Queen, her sister and her cousins, plus their spouses. The group often tips the 30+ mark, and for the Queen's 90th birthday last year, there were over 40 family members gathered.
Ever since the wedding of Princess Victoria in 1858, it has been customary for royal brides and grooms to acknowledge the crowds below. The image of kissing newlyweds on the balcony has become so iconic, it is perhaps surprising to note that it has only happened on three occasions.
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were the first to kiss for the crowds, followed by Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson—who joked around pretending they didn't hear the request, before obliging. On William and Kate's wedding day, they kissed twice as the crowds cheered wildly.
Will and Kate on their wedding day
Not all royal couples end up on the balcony on their wedding day though, as some marry outside London. Prince Edward and Peter Phillips both chose to get married in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, and Zara Phillips' wedding took place in Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh.
Major anniversary of the monarch's coronation always ensure a little balcony action, but with a far smaller group. For the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, which marked 25 years on the throne, there were just nine people present: the Queen, her husband, their four children, and her mother, sister, and cousin. For her Golden Jubilee (50 years) in 2002, it was a larger crowd, made up of her children plus their spouses and offspring.
The Diamond Jubilee (60 years) marked a stark contrast with the previous celebration; just five figures stood beside the monarch. With Prince Philip in the hospital, it was Prince Charles, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry taking
The Queen on the balcony alongside Charles and Camilla, William, Kate, and Harry at her diamond jubilee in 2012
CORONATIONS AND MAJOR STATE OCCASIONS
There have been less than a handful of balcony appearances following a coronation— and the most recent
In times of war, a balcony appearance is sometimes deemed appropriate. It's a reminder that the monarch is not merely a ceremonial figurehead—the kings and queens are a potent national symbol for their people, and their appearance cements that relationship.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill with the royal family on the balcony
To commemorate the end of World War II, Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared alongside the King and Queen and their daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. The family made eight appearances throughout the day, and during the final one, Elizabeth and Margaret slipped into the crowd to experience the celebrations with everyone else.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.