Royal celebrations are under way as the Platinum Jubilee, celebrating Elizabeth II’s 70th year on the throne, commences on Thursday, 2 June 2022.
The Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend sees many royal celebrations such as Trooping the Colour, a Jubilee Pageant, and an open-air concert at Buckingham Palace. But with so many festivities under way, you might be curious about some of the finer details of the events’ traditions and history.
Let’s take a look at an ensign’s role in Trooping the Colour as the Platinum Jubilee weekend kicks off.
What is an ensign?
An ensign is a junior ranking officer in the British army, who makes an appearance during the Trooping the Colour.
Although ‘ensign’ is still a widely used term in the US, the role has typically been replaced by the rank of second lieutenant in the UK.
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Ensign’s role in Trooping the Colour explored
Ensigns are responsible for Trooping the Colour on royal occasions such as the Platinum Jubilee. They carry the ‘colour’, meaning the flag, in a parade.
Trooping the Colour is a ceremony performed every year in the UK’s capital city by the British Army, with different regiments participating in the event. Ensigns hold particular importance in the ceremony as they carry the ‘colour’. They have subsequently been described as the “spiritual heart” of the ceremony:
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The history of Trooping the Colour
It is believed the first Trooping the Colour was performed duribng the reign of King Charles II (1660-1685), although it didn’t to become an annual event until the 18th century. In 1748, the parade became a celebration of the Sovereign’s birth. After George III ascended to the throne in 1760, it became an annual event.
The guards are some of the oldest units in the British Army, having defended the Sovereign since 1660.
The British Army’s regimental flags have been historically described as ‘Colours’ as they typically bear the colour and insignia of their regent or military unit.