As part of my visit to England, I was able to observe and shoot two royal processions. These processions were actually the highlight of my trip, as I still remember very clearly watching the Queen walk right past me in 1978 when I was 12 years old and she was in town (Edmonton, Alberta) for the opening of the Commonwealth Games. I wanted to be in Her Majesty's presence, if only for a few seconds, at least one more time in this life. Fortunately, I was actually able to manage it twice!
One royal procession was part of Trooping the Colour, the annual official celebration of the monarch's birthday. During her 65-year reign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has only missed one Trooping the Colour, and that was due to a rail strike. At one time, she did process on horseback, but at 91, that will obviously not happen again!
As you can see, the event begins with a colorful and musical royal procession by the various military regiments and massed bands down The Mall. The event itself is a lottery-only affair, with a royal salute, inspection of the troops of the Household Division. One regiment gets to troop its colour through the ranks of the guards and then everyone marches past the Queen. Each year, one of the foot-guard regiments is selected to troop its colour through the ranks of guards.
In light of the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, this year's event was notable for the increased presence of armed police. The regulars around me said that while there was always a very visible and active security presence, they did not recall seeing so many officers with machine guns. There was also a minute of silence for the victims of the recent Grenfell Tower disaster. Nevertheless, the event was mostly upbeat and celebratory, and the pageantry of the royal process was wonderful to observe and shoot (although the carriages were also apparently moving at a faster pace this year and were a little tricky to catch and it was also very hot and sticky!).
The other royal procession I attended was part of the Royal Ascot Procession. Each day of the most glamorous of the U.K. horse racing events, HM the Queen enters Great Windsor park from Windsor palace in a car, dismounts and switches to a landau carriage. The staging area is a good 2.5 mile walk in from the Ranger's Gate, so unless you get a parking space through the lottery, it's a lot of walking! Nevertheless, the picnic atmosphere was also lots of fun, and this site is much less formal and less crowded than The Mall. There was still lots of security, and everything happened very quickly, but it was lovely to be there, and to encounter "the royal gaze" again.
As one who grew up in a Commonwealth Country singing, "God Save the Queen," I find that her Royal Majesty will always have a deeply respectful, sweet and very special place in my heart. These royal processions were a lovely way to honor and celebrate the stability and wisdom she has brought for so long to this lovely country. (Note: The net proceeds from any sales of royal images will be donated to their charities.)