A Royal Gun Salute indicates a special royal occasion. Salutes are fired from specific locations in London and other official places in the United Kingdom. Military saluting stations are London, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, Cardiff and Hillsborough Castle in County Down, Northern Ireland.
In London, salutes are fired in Hyde Park by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and at The Tower of London.
Upon State Visits, the State Opening of Parliament and for The Queen’s Birthday Parade, Green Park (next to Buckingham Palace) is used for the salutes instead of Hyde Park.
The amount of rounds varies per occasion and place. A basic royal salute will have 21 rounds. Because Green Park and Hyde Park are part of the Royal Parks, an additional 20 rounds are added.
This changes when rounds are fired from The Tower of London. For Royal Anniversaries 62 rounds are fired. This comprises the first 21 shots, then 20 shots as the Tower is a Royal Palace and Fortress. Since the Tower is in the City of London, an additional round of 21 shots is fired. For all other occasions 41 shots are fired from the Tower.
Gun salutes are generally discharged at midday. Salutes are not fired on Sundays. If perchance the date falls on a Sunday, the salute will take place the following day.
The salute is fired by The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. At noon, the first round is fired. On The Queen’s official birthday, the salute begins at 11.00 am.
The salute at the Tower of London is fired by the Honourable Artillery Company at 1.00 pm.
Gun salutes additionally take place when Parliament is prorogued by the Queen, when a visiting Head of State meets Her Majesty in London, Windsor or Edinburgh or upon a Royal birth.
Gun salutes occur on the following Royal anniversaries:
- 6 February (Accession Day)
- 21 April (The Queen’s birthday)
- 2 June (Coronation Day)
- 10 June (The Duke of Edinburgh’s birthday)
- The Queen’s official birthday (a Saturday in June)
- 14 November (The Prince of Wales’s birthday)
- The State Opening of Parliament (usually May/June).