The History of Eton’s 4th June Celebrations

June 4th is an important day for Eton College, which is a prestigious boarding school located in the town of Eton, near Windsor. The day is celebrated annually with a tradition known as the “Procession of Boats” or the “Swan Upping Ceremony.”

During the ceremony, the Queen’s swan marker and his assistants row up the River Thames in traditional skiffs to check on the health of the swan population. They also conduct a census of the swans and mark any new cygnets (young swans) with identification tags.

Eton College students, dressed in their distinctive black and white uniforms, also participate in the ceremony. They row up the river in their own boats, accompanied by the school’s band playing lively tunes.

After the ceremony, the town of Eton and the college celebrate with a variety of festivities, including music, food, and drink. Many local residents and visitors come to Eton to watch the procession and take part in the celebrations.

The Fourth of June celebrations date back to 1811, when King George III visited Eton College to attend the speeches given by the students in the school’s Lower Chapel. The King was so impressed by the students’ performances that he suggested the event be held annually. The first official Fourth of June celebrations were held the following year, and the tradition has continued ever since.

The Fourth of June celebrations are a time for Eton College to reflect on its rich history and traditions. The day typically begins with a procession of students and staff, who march from the college to the nearby town of Windsor. The procession is led by the Eton College Band, and includes the school’s famous “Oppidans,” or day students, as well as its boarders.

Once in Windsor, the procession makes its way to St. George’s Chapel, where a special service is held in honor of the school’s founders. The service is attended by members of the Royal Family, as well as representatives from other schools and colleges.

Following the service, the students and staff return to Eton College for a series of speeches, performances, and sporting events. The day culminates in a cricket match between Eton College and the Old Etonians, a team made up of former students.

Over the years, the Fourth of June celebrations have become an important part of Eton College’s identity and culture. The event is a celebration of the school’s traditions, values, and achievements, and provides an opportunity for students and staff to come together in a spirit of community and pride.

Overall, the June 4th Eton College celebrations are an important and unique tradition that brings together the local community and celebrates the rich history and culture of Eton and the River Thames.

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