Soldiers of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in a rehearsal at the 2013 British Military Tournament at Earls Court, London. (Picture: Lee Thomas / Alamy).

MP calls for return of Royal Tournament with new Elizabeth name to honour Queen

Soldiers of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in a rehearsal at the 2013 British Military Tournament at Earls Court, London. (Picture: Lee Thomas / Alamy).

An MP has called for the return of the long-cancelled Royal Tournament in honour of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee to celebrate her 70 years of public service and to showcase the Armed Forces' prestige and professionalism.

Tory MP Stephen Metcalfe has tabled an early day motion calling for the return of what was once the world's biggest military tattoo, but he suggested that the pageant should be renamed The Elizabeth Tournament to honour the Queen.

The Royal Tournament was last held almost 23 years ago before the tattoo was cancelled, amid reports that the services had become too stretched to spare the 2,500 personnel needed to put the event on for its usual three-week run.

The show was then cut back to two weeks but reports at the time suggested it was not as financially viable as a result, with subsequent events suffering losses before the decision was finally made to cancel it in 1999.

In August of that year, the Royal Tournament closed for the final time to reduce military costs following the 1998 Strategic Defence Review.

Under a motion entitled The Elizabeth Tournament, tabled on 17 May, Mr Metcalfe, Conservative MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, proposed: "That this House believes that, in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee, the much-loved Royal Tournament should be reinstated and renamed, henceforth, The Elizabeth Tournament."

The motion continued to say that "this annual event would be a celebration of 70 extraordinary years of dedicated public service to Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Commonwealth; and hopes that The Elizabeth Tournament will be able to, once again, showcase the Armed forces' prestige, professionalism and ceremonial expertise".

It would "provide an opportunity to recognise the contribution of dedicated Armed Forces personnel, past, present and future, who stand as testament to British traditions, values and pageantry", it ended.

Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales arriving at Earl's Court, London to see the Royal Tournament in 1957. (Picture: PA Images / Alamy).

Mr Metcalfe told Forces News that he remembered with great fondness the experience of attending the Royal Tournament as a child and again, later in life, as an adult.

He said: "I believe it created a more tangible link between our armed service personnel and the wider public and gave people a much more informed view of what the Armed Forces do."

The MP added that polls had shown there was great support for a return of the national military tattoo that could showcase the many facets of "our fantastic Armed Forces".

A poll held by Forces News in 2015, found that 97.9% of 635 respondents agreed that Britain should still host a Royal Tournament in the 21st Century.

The MP said that he had not discussed the return of the Royal Tournament directly with his constituents, but added: "Judging by the support that is shown on Remembrance Day, I know there is huge respect and admiration for those who serve our nation and The Elizabeth Tattoo would be a marvellous way to celebrate that service."

The Royal Tournament was the first and oldest military tattoo in the world with its origins dating back to at least the 1800s.

It is thought that the tradition originated in some officially organised format in the 1870s when the National Rifle Association held meetings on Wimbledon Common.

The events grew in popularity before the Royal Tournament as we know it in modern times began to take shape, and bands began playing to entertain the crowds.

It is thought the first Musical Ride was performed by the Royal Artillery in 1896 at the event's original home at the Agricultural Hall in Islington, London, and this remained a popular part of the show right up until the last tournament in 1999.

Another highly-regarded tattoo event was the Royal Navy Field Gun race, a competition that dated back to 1907, which commemorated the teamwork, leadership and moral and physical courage of the service, but this tradition also ended with the cancelling of the Royal Tournament in 1999.

The Royal Navy says that the decision to end the Royal Tournament in 1999 resulted in there being "no vehicle for the Inter-Command Competition, while the assignment process for the tournament placed an unbearable strain on personnel resources".

However, a Royal Navy Field Gun Tournament continues to be held annually at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, Hampshire.

Members of the Royal Family joined crowds of thousands at the Royal Tournament each year, with highlights of the event often featuring in television news coverage.

The BBC broadcast programmes that featured elements of the show including the drills and marching by the Royal Marines, the Royal Horse Artillery gun teams and the field race between teams from the Royal Navy.

Members of the Portsmouth and Fleet Air Arm units take part in the last ever Royal Navy field gun race at Earl's Court stadium, during the last ever Royal Tournament in 1999. (Picture: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo).

Mr Metcalfe, speaking about why he feels now is the right time to bring the tournament back, said: "I believe there is growing admiration for our Armed Forces and a better understanding of the role they play on the world stage, however, there are few opportunities for them and the public to interact.

"An annual tattoo would be an opportunity to see another side of the military and to enjoy demonstrations of strength, skill and agility and of course to celebrate the traditions, values and pageantry of our great nation."

He added that the return of the tattoo would be a good way to honour The Queen in her Platinum Jubilee year, saying: "As we celebrate her Majesty’s 70th year as our monarch, this would be a lasting memorial to her service and dedication to our country, as is also demonstrated by our Armed Forces."

Mr Metcalfe said that no time had yet been allocated in the House of Commons to debate the early day motion but he said that he would encourage colleagues from across the country and across the political spectrum to support the motion.

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