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The Queen’s Birthday Parade, Trooping the Colour

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Today, June 11th Trooping the Colour celebrates The Queen’s 90th Birthday with over 1400 officers and men on parade, together with 200 hundred horses and 400 hundred musicians they all ride, march and play as one.

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Each uniform is steamed and pressed to perfection, the colour of every Scarlet Red uniform matches flawlessly. We have discussed the uniform and fabric with Yorkshire weaver A W Hainsworth who have been supplying the uniform fabric for 200 years, and Savile Row tailor Dege & Skinner.

Hainsworth, based on the outskirts of Leeds, West Yorkshire have been producing wool cloth for for over 230 years, and within their archive records it states that they supplied the Scarlet Red fabric for The Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Today they supply the Ministry of Defence with an average of one piece (55 metres) of the ceremonial red fabric each week which roughly equates to 18 tailored ceremonial jackets.

“The colour matching process used at Hainsworth is unparalleled through our own dye laboratory, of the thousands of uniforms that are seen on parade you cannot tell which uniform is 5 weeks old or 5 years old with no variance at all between all the different batches of material that have been woven to include in the parade.” – Julie Greenough, Hainsworth

This is due to how well wool takes to dyeing and colouration, wool absorbs the colour right through to the core of the fibre rather than sitting on the surface and remains locked-in which keeps the richness of the colour throughout the life of the garment, with no fading on laundering and cleaning.

The fabric takes around 20 weeks from start to finish to produce, which requires Hainsworth to have fabric at various stages at any one time in production to make sure they service the market effectively.

Photographer Sam Faulkner produced this short film of the fabric being woven and going through the processes as a preview for his Unseen Waterloo Exhibition at Somerset house last year.

Once the fabric has been through the finishing process it is sent to a military tailor to create the ceremonial garment for the soldiers. Dege & Skinner a family business since 1865 is one of Savile Row’s finest civil, military and sporting bespoke tailors and Royal Warrant Holders for Her Majesty The Queen.

“It’s a work of art. Complex to create, but just so beautiful when seen en mass at the Trooping the Colour.” – Dege & Skinner

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It is the quality of the construction and felting process that allows for all the hems of the uniforms to sit crisp and aligned with one another. Because of how the fabric is constructed all of the uniforms are raw edged, this means that there are no sewn-hems.

The dense solid structure of the material is used in conjunction with the tailoring of the garment to pull the soldiers into the formal upright parade stance, the scarlet cloth supports this without ever bagging or sagging or creasing.

It takes a full week for an experienced military coat maker to make a bespoke Guard’s tunic, as worn for Trooping the Colour. 

Michael Skinner Chairman of Dege & Skinner, along with Sarah Goodwin who joined Dege & Skinner as a Youth Training Scheme student and won a QEST scholarship to learn how to make military uniforms like the ones seen on Parade. This image shows hand finishing of the ceremonial jacket ready for the Trooping the Colour in 1980’s.

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Let’s all celebrate this momentous occasion today for her Majesty the Queen’s special birthday. The Trooping the Colour takes place today on Pall Mall and The Royal Horseguards from 10am.

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