ORANGEMEN and women from across the UK – including a large contingent from Northern Ireland – will parade in London this weekend to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Members of the Orange Order are due to step out in the capital city tomorrow afternoon in what is expected to be one of the largest marches on the mainland involving the loyal institution in recent years.
Organised by the Grand Lodge of England, the parade route will incorporate some of central London’s most iconic landmarks as it passes Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, the Houses of Parliament and crosses Waterloo Bridge en route to a rally at Temple via the Victoria embankment.
The march will take place hours after the pageantry and spectacle of the Queen’s birthday parade – Trooping the Colour – is held at Horse Guards Parade.
Senior Orange figures in attendance will include the Grand Masters of England, Ireland and Scotland – Ron Bather, Edward Stevenson and Henry Dunbar.
Representatives from a recently-formed lodge in Wales will also be among the participants.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s march, Mr Bather said he expected the event to be as large as a similar parade to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee 10 years ago.
“We reckon in excess of 10,000 will be on parade,” he said.
Mr Bather said the Grand Lodge of England had already sent formal written correspondence to the Queen congratulating her on her six decades of devoted public service and the London parade was a means of publicly honouring the monarch.
“We are more than pleased to take to the streets on Saturday to show our appreciation for Her Majesty and the way she has upheld her promises that she made when she ascended the throne,” said Mr Bather, who revealed that three new lodges have formed in England so far this year.
The Order’s membership will be asked at the rally to renew their allegiance to the Queen when a resolution is proposed from the main platform.
The large number of visiting Ulster brethren and sisters will include a 200-strong contingent from Fermanagh.
County officers will be accompanied for the first time outside the Province with a bannerette in memory of former members who lost their lives as a result of republican terrorism.
County Grand Master Norman Johnston said: “We are really looking forward to the trip and joining in these Diamond Jubilee celebrations ahead of the Queen’s visit to Enniskillen later this month.
“We have sent the best wishes of the County Grand Lodge to Her Majesty in this her Diamond Jubilee year, and have assured her of a warm welcome here in Fermanagh.”
Among the local bands on parade will be Brookeborough Flute (Fermanagh), Kilcluney Volunteers (Armagh), Newtownards Melody (Down), Dungiven Crown Defenders (Londonderry) and Ballynafeigh Apprentice Boys Flute (Belfast).
Ballymagroatry Accordion from Co Donegal will also be in attendance.
Meanwhile, an Orange lodge in London will be collecting funds in aid of a Fermanagh Orange hall, which was destroyed in an arson attack last year.
Donations raised through the London LOL 1689 initiative will go towards the rebuild of Inver hall near Rosslea.
The London parade is due to commence at 2.30pm tomorrow.