Earls Court is set to host the inaugural British Military Tournament. Organiser ABF The Soldiers’ Charity’s will put on two tournaments a day, on 4 and 5 December 2010.
The charity, which will reap the proceeds from the event, says the new event will bring together the “best elements of the world famous Royal Tournament, incorporating them into a new show for the 21st century”.
“Many of our visitors have enduring memories of the Royal Tournament and we’re really excited to be bringing such an event back to our halls,” says commercial director for Earls Court and Olympia (EC&O) Venues, Anna Golden.
Narrated live by Anthony Andrews, with pre-recorded contributions from Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and Dame Judi Dench, The British Military Tournament will re-enact key events from the history of the British Army, from the English Civil War to the present day conflict in Afghanistan. The event is written and directed by Christopher Joll, produced by IMG and will have HRH The Prince of Wales as the event’s Royal Patron.
The show will feature 500 troops, more than 145 horses, massed bands, Chelsea Pensioners and Gurkha veterans. The British Military Tournament 2010 will celebrate the 350th Anniversary of the formation of the Household Cavalry and the 150th Anniversaries of the Army Physical Training Corps and the Cadet movement.
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity began as the Army Benevolent Fund in 1944 and currently raises £7m per year and helps over 4,000 injured servicemen and women and their families. In recent years they have seen a 30 per cent year on year increase in soldiers, former soldiers and their dependents seeking help.
At the time, The Royal Tournament was arguably the World’s largest military tattoo and pageant, held by the British Armed Forces annually between 1880 and 1999. The venue was originally the Royal Agricultural Hall and latterly the Earls Court Exhibition Centre.
In a letter from the Secretary of State for Defence on the Royal Tournament, dated 14 September 1998, it said: “The study has now reported and I have agreed, in consultation with the Prime Minister that the Royal Tournament in its current form would end on a high in 1999, but that a flagship Armed Forces event will continue in the future.”