The Household Division Beating Retreat is a uniquely British spectacle featuring the Queen’s Foot Guards and the Household Cavalry, amongst others.
Beating Retreat refers to a military drum call that can trace its origins to 16th century England and was first used to recall nearby units to their castle. Over the centuries that followed it developed into a musical ceremonial event that is practiced throughout the Commonwealth but it is at its most spectacular in the magnificent surroundings of Horse Guards Parade in Central London.
Always performed on the Wednesday and Thursday evenings preceding the Queen’s Birthday Parade in June, it is a sunset pageant of precision drill, horses, cannons and fireworks, all accompanied by music from around 300 musicians from the Massed Bands of the Household Division. On at least one evening, the Queen or a senior member of the British Royal Family usually attends and takes the salute.