The History of the British Military Tournament
The British Military Tournament brings together the best elements of the old Royal Tournament in a new and exciting format for the 21st Century. It showcases the precision and skill of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and enthrals audiences with state of the art special effects, while also taking on a fundamental new role: that of raising money for the National Charities of the British Armed Forces: Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity; ABF The Soldiers’ Charity; and The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. Since its inception in 2010, the British Military Tournament has entertained over 100,000 audience members and raised in excess of £400,000 for these charities.
In 1999, the world-famous Royal Tournament closed its doors for the very last time. Over its’ 120 year history (with the exception of during the First and the Second World Wars), generations of avid families looked forward each year to acts including the nail-biting Field Gun Run, the majestic King’s Troop Musical Drive and the death-defying stunts of the White Helmets Motorcycle Display Team.
While there have been many impressive Military Tattoos across the world since 1999, none filled the void left by the old Royal Tournament. In late 2008 Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, then Chief Executive of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, began working with Christopher Joll, an independent writer and director and Stephen Flint Wood, Managing Director of IMG Arts & Entertainment, to resurrect the Royal Tournament. The vision was to do so with a completely new format; adopting a strong narrative line and featuring leading British actors in addition to iconic acts from the old Tournament including massed bands, The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery’s Musical Drive and the Field Gun Competition. The British Military Tournament was born.
The first British Military Tournament opened in December 2010 to a sell-out crowd. ABF The Soldiers’ Charity was the primary charity behind bringing the event to life and the narrative theme told ’The Story of the British Army’. Audiences of over 50,000 in total witnessed a breathtaking display of military precision featuring The King’s Troop, Massed Bands, the Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry, modern battle re-enactments from recently returned active troops plus contributions from Dame Judi Dench, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and Anthony Andrews.
Following the success of 2010, the Ministry of Defence granted permission for a second Tournament which focused on ‘The History of the Special Relationship’ between the British Military and the United States. Special guest stars from the US Army Drill Team left the audience on the edge of their seats with an unforgettable display of skill using their rifles and bayonets, while the White Helmets Motorcycle Display team wowed the public with their death-defying displays. The Tournament also featured the US Army Band and Chorus, over 700 troops, 100 horses and modern military vehicles and guest commentary from Robert Hardy, Anthony Andrews and Rory Bremner. Of particular note was the reintroduction of the full tri-service complement to the 2011 Tournament with Her Majesty The Queen attending as guest of honour on opening night.
Read about what to expect from 2012’s exciting show