Updated: Sep 26, 2019
I thoroughly enjoyed the ferry from Cherbourg to Portsmouth last week. The history buff in me got a thrill out of seeing Admiral Nelson's flagship from the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Victory, moored in Portsmouth Harbor. The crushing defeat of the combined French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar made Nelson a legend, and firmly established Great Britain as the dominant naval force in the world. (The famous area at the heart of London, Trafalgar Square, is crowned by Nelson's Column) Our ferry also sailed past the brand new Royal Navy aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, and a host of other historic and current naval ships. At this point I made a note that I would have to come back to visit Portsmouth more in depth - but it was growing late and I had a train to catch up to London.
After all, bright and early the next morning was the main event for my time in England - Trooping the Colour. Trooping the Colour is the official birthday celebration of the British Sovereign and features massed bands, more than a few chances to see the Royal family, and of course, a flyover of the RAF's Red Arrows. This was my first time attending the event, and I was not disappointed! We saw Her Majesty the Queen and all the working members of the Royal family up close, enjoyed music from the massed bands, saw the glittering Household Cavalry, and enjoyed the impressive Royal Artillery who performed a 41 gun salute with their horse drawn cannon in nearby Green Park. The Mall looked splendid decorated with the Union Flag and Buckingham Palace flew a truly enormous Royal Standard. It was a sight to behold!
If you are looking for the opportunity to see one of Great Britain's most impressive Royal events, I highly recommend Trooping the Colour. Held every June, it can easily be combined with a number of other exciting events in London and the surrounding countryside. SInce I had time, I headed out to Oxfordshire to visit one of my favorite spots - Blenheim Palace. Blenheim is one of the Britain's most spectacular palaces, and was built as a gift to thank John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, for his victory at the Battle of Blenheim - another crushing victory over the French. So my time in England was bookended by reminders of a couple of Great Britain's greatest military victories, with a hefty dose of Royal pageantry on display in the middle. Quite the trip I'd say!