Following on from my blog post yesterday, I thought I thought some people may be interested in seeing the gun-salutes in central London yesterday.
Gun salutes can be fired from land or on the sea and are a traditional sign of welcome or respect. They use blank cannon shells as a sign of friendliness in the same way that traditional military salutes with hands started as a method of demonstrating a lack of hostility by showing their empty hands.
Royal Salutes are fired in areas of London but also other parts of the United Kingdom and indeed in other Commonwealth nations. There were plenty fired yesterday but here are the two that were held in London.
Most Royal Salutes are 21 rounds but those held in Royal Parks have an extra 20 rounds. Usually the location with the most rounds fired is The Tower Of London where the basic 21 are fired plus 20 for it being a Royal Palace and an additional 21 to represent the people of the City of London.
Gun salutes can be held for any important national celebration or to welcome a foreign dignitary. They are held at the birth of any senior Royal Family member as well as other Royal anniversaries:
6 February (Accession Day)
21 April (The Queen’s birthday)
2 June (Coronation Day)
10 June (The Duke of Edinburgh’s birthday)
The Queen’s official birthday (a Saturday in June)
14 November (The Prince of Wales’s birthday)
The State Opening of Parliament
There were 2 salutes yesterday both held at 2pm. The one in Green Park was a 41 gun salute when the Royal Horse Artillery rode 71 horses pulling 6 13 pounder field guns from their barracks and in front of Buckingham Palace before setting up at the north end of this big park. The cannons they brought were actual WW1 cannons although they wore the soldiers worse their dress uniforms that pre-date that war by some way.
The other salute was held at Gun Wharf overlooking the Thames and just under the walls of the Tower of London. This was enacted by the Honourable Artillery Company who the reserve army unit for London. They fired 61 rounds from 3 modern ceremonial 130mm cannons which are very similar to some of those used in present day Afghanistan.
I watched both of them on the BBC who showed them on a split screen broadcast. It went on for 8 or 9 minutes and they both looked spectacular in their own way. I liked the Green Park one because of the setting and all the old guns and horses, it looked like an ancient battle. The Tower of London was very striking due to it taking place by the river and with the bridge just down the road and the castle behind it. It’s quite amazing that a castle built 950 years ago still gets used for these military occasions.
I’ve been unable to find the clip I watched on television but I have found these reports that give an idea of how it was.