tabony wrote: Yes all regiments did and I suppose still can "troop" their colours, which is why it's generaly just civvies and the BBC that use the name "Trooping the Colour" The Household Division always call it "The Queen's Birthday Parade" or "QBP".
tabony wrote: Not that I've looked into it at all but going from pictures of previouse parades, I would think that it is only since WW1 that the parade has taken place at Horse Guards Parade. There have been SBPs at Windsor Great Park and Hyde Park for example.
That would make sense. The creation by George the Fifth of the 'House of Windsor'' brand and all that.
tabony wrote: I wonder if the 42nd just recieved new red hackle on that parade, which being presented by the King then made something official that had been worn anyway?
Yes, the red feathers said to have been presented to the 42nd in June 1795 would seem to be the revival of a custom that started in America during the AWI but which for some reason then lapsed. Tales of the feathers being conferred as an honour for gallantry during a minor action at the Dutch village of Geldermelsen in January 1795 are not borne out by official dispatches. There is no indication and little likelihood, either, that the feathers presented that summer were a gift from the King although by the late C19th that was being stated as fact.
Regimental-pattern hat feathers, despite being thoroughly non-regulation, had become commonplace by the 1790s and red feathers were not uncommon, particularly in Highland regiments. The red feather supposedly ordered for the Black Watch in America twenty years before by Sir William Howe, was adopted for administrative reasons and when that requirement ended it was apparently retained simply for decorative purposes- albeit serving as a memento, too, of steadfast service in a lost cause. Most likely, it was on that basis that the custom was revived in the summer of 1795, when the Regiment received its first new clothing in two years, having returned in rags after a hard and fruitless winter campaign in Holland. Customarily, for regiments ‘at home’ the annual clothing issue was first worn on parade on the occasion of the King’s Birthday.
The non-regulation feathers may have been a gift from the sovereign, but that seems unlikely. More probably, they were presented with the compliments of the Commanding Officer, perhaps at Regimental expense; a gesture of appreciation for the fortitude and discipline shown by the men in the depths of that awful winter on the Dutch steppe. Perhaps rousing remarks made by the CO that day in June, recalling the trouncing of a superior French force at Geldermalsen the previous January, created the impression in the minds of some young soldiers that the feather was being presented in honour of that achievement; and with the passage of years the impression grew into a conviction.
The feather did not receive Royal sanction, apparently, until 1802 when the 42nd, returning in triumph from Egypt, paraded in review before the King. At the Colonel’s request, King George is said to have granted his Royal Highlanders permission to continue wearing their red feather despite a new regulation feather of white and red being ordered for all infantry during their absence. This privilege granted by the King was never recorded officially, however, - the CO, Charles Dickson, being rather fond of his port, it is said- so when in 1822 a badly worded order was issued appearing to prescribe a red feather for the bonnets of all Highland officers, a clarification was soon issued declaring the ‘red vulture feather’ to be for the exclusive use of the Royal Highland Regiment
but in the process it was discovered there was in fact no official authority for the Black Watch to wear their ‘Red Heckle’.
In response to an discreet enquiry as to “ from what period and by what authority, the 42nd Regiment had worn the red feather”
, Robert Dick, CO of the 42nd at the time, explained that, all the old records having been lost, they had no way of answering the question. A equally discreet enquiry from the CO to Major General James Stirling, former CO and the longest serving officer in the Regiment, elicited his assurance that the red feather was adopted in America around 1776, at the orders of Sir William Howe, who wished to promote uniformity in the headgear of the elite Reserve brigade to which the Black Watch were attached, and had been worn “ever since.”
Perhaps this answer wasn’t satisfactory, for the General's letter appears to have been ignored and lay forgotten in archives for over 160 years. Meanwhile, a terse statement from David Stewart, author of the new Regimental history published earlier that same year of 1822, stating that in the year of 1795 the Royal Highland Regiment assumed the red feather
but giving no reasons, left the field open for the Geldermelsen story finally to take seed in the 1870s and flourish for a hundred years.
That explains, in part, why Red Hackle Day is celebrated on January the 5th and not on the Sovereign's Birthday!