The Duchess of Cambridge made a surprise appearance at The Household Division’s Beating Retreat on Thursday night, where she took the salute following over an hour of military pageantry.
Held every year on two nights, the Beating Retreat is held at Horse Guards Parade ahead of Trooping the Colour, and a royal is invited to take the salute, while another prominent person takes the salute on the other night. Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes, took the salute on Wednesday night.
This year Kate made her debut at the Beating Retreat, then watched as over 300 pipers, drummers, and musicians from the Massed Bands of the Household Division performed for an hour.
A Beating Retreat dates back to 1690 when James II ordered his drummers to beat their drums and let the troops know to retreat.
“Beating Retreat has its origins in the early years of organised warfare when beating or sounding retreat called a halt to the day’s fighting, a return to camp, and the mounting of the guard for the night,” according to the Changing the Guard website.
The Beating Retreat has taken place every year since 1966 and all proceeds from ticket sales support service charities.
Kate accessorised her cream-coloured Catherine Walker coatdress with a golden shamrock brooch from the Irish Guards, of which Prince William is the Colonel. He will ride in Saturday’s Trooping the Colour Parade in his role as the Regiment’s Colonel.
To mark the fact that the Beating Retreat took place on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, the musicians performed selections from the 1962 film The Longest Day, which focused on the event.
The Royal Family rotates who will attend the Beating Retreat each year: last year, the Duke of York attended, accompanied by Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. The Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of Sussex, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Earl of Wessex have all attended in the past eight years, as well.
Kate will next be seen on Saturday when she attends Trooping the Colour and joins in the carriage procession and flypast viewing on the balcony at Buckingham Palace.