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Ceremony of British military tradition

Beating Retreat is set to be even more spectacular for 2014.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Musicians of the Massed Bands of the Household Division on Horse Guards Parade [Picture: Sergeant Steve Blake, Crown copyright]
Musicians of the Massed Bands of the Household Division

It is that time of year when the Massed Bands of the Household Division take centre stage at Horse Guards Parade in London to perform one of the great British military traditions: Beating Retreat.

On 11 and 12 June, the bands will showcase their music in a sunset pageant of precision drills, horses, cannons and fireworks in a spectacular show full of military pomp and ceremony.

Despite Beating Retreat being an annual tradition in the London calendar, this year it will be all the more spectacular.

With the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 70th anniversary of D-Day, this year will see a theme running through the performances – something not done in previous displays.

Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Hopla
Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Hopla directs musicians of the Massed Bands of the Household Division [Picture: Sergeant Steve Blake, Crown copyright]

For Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Hopla, this year’s performances are even more special because it is his first Beating Retreat as the senior director of music. When discussing how he decided the running order of the show to fit the theme, Lieutenant Colonel Hopla said:

We are starting with ‘O Fortuna’, the theme for ‘The X Factor’ [television show], which is a piece of music designed to put people on the edge of their seats. We will also have a 140-piece choir joining us for that. The idea is to create a sense of conflict and war throughout to commemorate the anniversaries this year.

As well as leading the Band of the Irish Guards, it is Lieutenant Colonel Hopla’s role to co-ordinate the other 4 Foot Guards bands, including guests from the French Foreign Legion and the bands of the Troupes de Marine.

International military personnel
Warrant Officer Class 1 James 'Wiggy' Whitwham, Royal Marines (second from left), with military representatives of the Netherlands and the USA [Picture: Petty Officer (Photographer) Derek Wade, Crown copyright]

By welcoming these guest bands and with His Excellency Bernard Emié, the French Ambassador to the UK, taking the salute on 11 June, the traditional links between Britain and France remain strong. Prince William will be the salute-taker on the evening of 12 June.

In the grand finale, the parade square will be lit up with fireworks and the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will perform their musical drive, with teams of 6 immaculately-groomed horses drawing First World War-era guns in fast-paced, choreographed manoeuvres.

Tickets for Beating Retreat 2014

Tickets for Beating Retreat are still available to purchase via Ticketmaster.

Trumpeters of the Massed Bands of the Household Division [Picture: Sergeant Steve Blake, Crown copyright]
Published 4 June 2014
Last updated 4 June 2014 + show all updates
  1. Corrected spelling and rank of Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Hopla.
  2. First published.