If you’re near Green Park or the Tower of London tomorrow (Wed), listen out for very loud cannon fire.
To mark the 67th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne, guns will be fired from both the Royal Park and the Royal Fortress.
The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will stage a 41-gun salute at Green Park, while the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) will stage a 62-gun salute along the riverside at the Tower of London.
To watch the firing, the best view for the Tower of London is often from Tower Bridge, unless you arrive very early to get a good spot as the path is a bit narrow. In Green Park, they hold people back at a safe distance, and it’s usually easier to get a view of the firing.
The gun salute takes place at Noon in Green Park and at 1pm at the Tower of London.
Royal and national salutes are of 21 guns. The number of guns for other salutes varies from 19 to seven and is laid down in Queen’s/King’s Regulations for the Royal Navy.
The basic salute would normally be 21 rounds, fired at ten-second intervals, but in Green Park, an extra 20 are fired because it is a Royal Park.
At the Tower of London, an extra 20 rounds are also fired, because it is a Royal Palace, and a further 21 are fired for the City of London, meaning a total of 62 rounds and a total firing time of around ten minutes.
The firing of gun salutes appears to have originated from the time that when the navy made goodwill visits to foreign ports, they discharged all their guns to seaward on arrival thus indicating to the authorities ashore that their guns were empty and their visit peaceful.
In the earliest days, seven guns were the recognized British national salute because seven was the standard number of weapons on a vessel. However, as gunpowder was easier to keep on dry land than at sea, the early regulations stated that although a ship would fire only seven guns, the forts ashore would fire three shots to each one shot afloat, hence the number 21.
Today they are an honour to the person or event being celebrated, and a big draw for tourists.
A full list of the known gun salutes for 2019 is here.