Pomp, pageantry and a (very smart) Prince: William leads the charge at spectacular musical tribute to Britain's armed forces at Beating Retreat

  • The Beating Retreat at Whitehall marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day and centennial of First World War
  • Servicemen and women impressed a 6,500-strong crowd during the London ceremony last night
  • Crowds witnessed a procession of military musicians performing a series of war-time anthems
  • Prince William wore the black and gold trimmed uniform of the Irish Guards of which he is a Royal Colonel

By Tara Brady

The Duke of Cambridge led the charge at a spectacular musical and theatrical tribute to Britain's armed forces during a special performance of Beating Retreat.

The annual display of military pomp and ceremony took on a special resonance this year, marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the centennial commemorations of the First World War.

Servicemen and women marked the sacrifices made by those who served in both wars by impressing the 6,500-strong crowd with a display of horsemanship, pageantry and gunfire last night.

Support: The Duke of Edinburgh salutes at the special performance of Beating Retreat which took place at Horse Guards in Whitehall last night

Support: The Duke of Edinburgh salutes at the special performance of Beating Retreat which took place at Horse Guards in Whitehall last night

Adorned in the black and gold trimmed uniform of the Irish Guards, of which he is a Royal Colonel, Prince William opened the ceremony by taking the salute.

At sunset fireworks sent streaks of green, silver and red sparks into the sky.

 

A procession of military musicians, each in the signature uniform of their battalion, performed a series of war-time anthems at the Horse Guards in Whitehall, central London.

The crowd saved one of their biggest cheers of the night for D-Day veteran Gordon Newton, who was shown on the big screen in the front row wearing his red beret and his medal adorning his chest.

Prince William
Prince William

Dashing: Adorned in the black and gold trimmed uniform of the Irish Guards, of which he is a Royal Colonel, Prince William opened the ceremony

In good spirits: Prince William (centre) speaks with Major-General Edward Smyth-Osbourne during the Beating Retreat military pageant at Horse Guards Parade in London

In good spirits: Prince William (centre) speaks with Major-General Edward Smyth-Osbourne during the Beating Retreat military pageant at Horse Guards Parade in London

Members of the Massed Bands of the Household Division, the French Troupes de Marine and the French Foreign Legion (Legion etrangere) perform at the Beating Retreat military pageant at Horse Guards Parade in London

Members of the Massed Bands of the Household Division, the French Troupes de Marine and the French Foreign Legion (Legion etrangere) perform at the Beating Retreat military pageant at Horse Guards Parade in London

The Massed Bands of the Household Division perform at the Beating Retreat which marked the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and centennial of First World War

The Massed Bands of the Household Division perform at the Beating Retreat which marked the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and centennial of First World War

He sang along as The Band of the Welsh Guards led a rendition of the First World War ballad 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary'.

Asked what he thought of the display, he said simply: 'Wonderful'.

British troops were joined by comrades from France and Canada, and William paid tribute to the work of Britain's close allies on the international stage.

He said: 'As Colonel of the Irish Guards I am delighted to support the Household Division Beating Retreat.

Servicemen and women marked the sacrifices made by those who served in the First and Second World Wars by impressing the 6,500-strong crowd

Servicemen and women marked the sacrifices made by those who served in the First and Second World Wars by impressing the 6,500-strong crowd

Prince William chats during the Beating Retreat
Prince William chats to another member of the Irish Guards

Smart: Prince William cut a dashing figure in the black and gold trimmed uniform of the Irish Guards of which he is a Royal Colonel

Pomp: Members of the Vancouver Police Pipe Band perform at the Beating Retreat military pageant at Horse Guards Parade last night

Pomp: Members of the Vancouver Police Pipe Band perform at the Beating Retreat military pageant at Horse Guards Parade last night

The Massed Bands of the Household Division perform at Beating Retreat which marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day landings and 100 years since the start of WWI

The Massed Bands of the Household Division perform at Beating Retreat which marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day landings and 100 years since the start of WWI

'Year after year this wonderful event showcases the skill and professionalism of our military musicians whilst reinforcing the traditions and heritage for which we as a nation are justifiably proud and envied the world over.

'As we begin our centenary commemorations of the First World War, I am particularly pleased to welcome our friends from Canada and France to Horse Guards Parade.

'Our linkage with both nations remain as strong as ever and continue to be reinforced through current military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere.'

The annual display of pomp took on a special resonance this year, marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the centennial commemorations of the First World War

The annual display of pomp took on a special resonance this year, marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the centennial commemorations of the First World War

Proud: Prince William praised the skill and professionalism of military musicians while reinforcing the traditions and heritage of the armed forces

Proud: Prince William praised the skill and professionalism of military musicians while reinforcing the traditions and heritage of the armed forces

As fireworks lit up the night sky, the Massed Band of the Household Division gave a performance of O Fortuna, accompanied by the Royal Choral Society

As fireworks lit up the night sky, the Massed Band of the Household Division gave a performance of O Fortuna, accompanied by the Royal Choral Society

Dancers from the London Swing Dance Society perform alongside members of the Massed Bands of the Household Division in London last night

Dancers from the London Swing Dance Society perform alongside members of the Massed Bands of the Household Division in London last night


The role horses have played in defence was honoured in a display by the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery in Horse Guards Parade in central London

The role horses have played in defence was honoured in a display by the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery in Horse Guards Parade in central London

The final performance of the Household Division's Beating Retreat when the Duke of Cambridge took salute at Horse Guards Parade

The final performance of the Household Division's Beating Retreat when the Duke of Cambridge took salute at Horse Guards Parade

Spectacular: Fireworks lit up the London skyline as the Massed Band of the Household Division gave a performance of O Fortuna

Spectacular: Fireworks lit up the London skyline as the Massed Band of the Household Division gave a performance of O Fortuna

As fireworks lit up the night sky, the Massed Band of the Household Division gave a performance of O Fortuna, accompanied by the Royal Choral Society.

They were followed by the Band of the French Foreign Legion who performed a medley of military songs.

The role horses have played in defence was honoured in a display by the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery.

Galloping into the arena in two diagonal lines, the horse pulled small cannons mounted on carts in a choreographed routine.

As a finale, all the bands assembled to perform The War of the Worlds to a backdrop of fireworks and cannon fire.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Knowing little of uniform protocols, why is the officer to the left of Prince William wearing his aiguillette on the left while Prince William and the General are wearing theirs on the right?

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Since I know little of uniform protocols, why is the officer to the left of Prince William wearing his gold aiguillette on the left while Prince William and the General are wearing theirs on the right?

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God love the English. No one does pageantry half as well. Beautiful tribute and so appropriate. It's wonderful to see how beloved the Veteran's are in the UK. Prince William does look dashing in his uniform.

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He looks incredibly good in that uniform!

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Nice to see Prince William stepping it up with royal duties.

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He's the male version of his mother, she must be proud!!!

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What a glorious tribute to your soldiers and sailors, past and present! No one comes near you UKers in planning and conducting such ceremonies with such beauty and precision.

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uh, when did William become the Duke of Edinburgh? Who writes this stuff?

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The piece throughout refers to him as the "Duke of Cambridge" or "Prince William". Book an appointment at Specsavers.

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'LordJohnD': The first picture is titled "Support: The Duke of Edinburgh salutes at the special performance of Beating Retreat which took place at Horse Guards in Whitehall last night." It shows William saluting, but no sign of Prince Philip in that or any other picture. I presume your comment is telling us that you are booking an appointment with the opticians - you need it.

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How young the guards appear to be.

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Prince William does not look all that interested to me, smiling too much. Beginning to acf like his wife. William Middleton says it all.

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She smiles too much so she's stupid and vapid. He's not smiling so he's disinterested. Good lord, just stop it already with the idiotic comments. You don't have to like them but at least come up with something original to complain about. They're dong fine. Let it go.

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I agree. It seems Billy is not man ENOUG. End off.

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