Trooping of the Queen's and Regimental Colours of the 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment; Harris Park, London, Ontario, 4 October 2008. Photo by Bryan Nelson.
Old Military Customs Still Extant
By: Major C..T. Tomes, D.S.O., M.C.
Published in the Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. LXX, February to November, 1925
Trooping the Colour
The Practice of Trooping the Colour was originally an old guard-mounting ceremony, in which the King's Colour is the symbol of the Sovereign and the Regimental Colour the emblem of the soul of the regiment. For this reason it is right that they are marched round the battalion from time to time, so that every man may pay them all due honour. Colours are never usually touched or carried except by an officer, but this ceremony starts with the emblem in charge of a sergeant with two sentries. Similarity, each "guard" is formed into line without its officers. The sergeants commanding the guards then assemble together with the officers on the saluting base, a relic of the days when they were so collected in order to draw lots for their guard, receive the "parole" and such orders as might be given them. the drums beat the "Assembly," meaning that it is time for officers and N.C.Os. to take up their posts. They recover arms and move by the stately slow march to take over their command.
The first honour is next paid to the Colour by the slow and quick marches played by the band and drums. This is only a preliminary to the reception of the Colour into the ranks of the Battalion. In the old days the grenadier company always found the escort and invariably took the right of the parade; nowadays the right guard still performs this duty, the right having been the post of honour from the time of the Roman Legionaries, since they carried the shield on the left arm.
The "Drummer's Call" is the signal for the captain of the escort to hand over hos command to the lieutenant; a curious bit of symbolism. the band and drums then play "The British grenadiers" and the escort moves across the front of the parade to the Colour. The Sergeant-Major, representing the men, takes it from the sergeant in whose charge it is, and hands it to an officer. the Colour is next received by the escort with full honours. Arms are presented and the band plays the salute, if it is the King's Colour, this is "God Save the King"; if it be the Regimental Colour, the Regimental Slow March is played. The Sergeant-Major salutes with his sword, the only occasion on which he does so. The escort stands with its arms at the "present," while the sergeants on the flanks of each rank face outward and port their arms as if to repel any intruder who may attempt to disturb this solemn moment. The escort with the Colour moves back in slow time to the music of the "Grenadiers' Slow March" to the right of the line; they file through the ranks of the battalion, arms are presented and every man can see the Colour and show it honour. The ceremony finishes with a march past in quick and slow time.
Coldstream Guards Trooping Their Colour; The Queen's Diamond Jubilee. (Youtube)