Gun Salutes

Teams of horses gallop across the park, pulling six thirteen-pounder guns at speed over the grass. The guns are quickly detached and, upon command, fire booming blanks which reverberate through the ground, sending a puff of white smoke into the air. This is a Royal Gun Salute as it happens in a Royal Park, and it is given as a sign of respect or welcome upon various important Royal occasions.

What happens at a Gun Salute?

On special days, such as anniversaries and birthdays, Royal salutes are fired from various locations in London and across the UK. In London, salutes are fired from the Tower of London, and also either Hyde Park or Green Park, depending upon the occasion. The basic salute is 21 rounds, fired at ten second intervals, but in Hyde Park or Green Park an extra 20 are fired because it is a Royal Park. 

In the parks, The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery fires the salute, the first round usually being fired at noon. The salute at the Tower of London is fired from four twenty-five pounder guns located on Tower Wharf facing the River Thames, by the Honourable Artillery Company at 1pm.

Just as an open hand salute was used historically to demonstrate that no weapon was being held, a gun salute indicated the friendly intent of an empty ammunition chamber.

When are Gun Salutes fired?

Gun salutes are fired to mark a variety of occasions, including:

  • Accession Day – 8 September
  • The King's Birthday – 14 November
  • The King's official birthday - a Saturday in June
  • Coronation Day - 6 May 2023
  • The State Opening of Parliament - usually November or December
  • Prorogation of Parliament
  • Meeting of a visiting Head of State and the Sovereign in London, Windsor or Edinburgh

Find more details about Gun Salutes fired in Royal Parks.

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