The Beating Retreat is a ceremony based upon the end of day parade during times of war; beating drums and Post Guards would signal the end of the fighting day, and for soldiers to retreat, when the flags were lowered. An order from William III, dating back to 1694 stated that the Drum Major and Drummers were to ‘beat the Retreat’ through the large street, and they were to be answered by the Drummers of the guards in their respective Quarters.
Beating the Retreat takes place at Horse Guards Parade for two nights in June of each year. The ceremony is now full of military music and precision drills, undertaken by the Mounted Bands of the Household Cavalry, along with and the Massed Bands of the Household Division. The salute is taken by a member of the Royal Family.