The echoes of royal command reverberate through Buckingham Palace, signaling not just a changing of the guard but a significant reshuffling of Colonels-in-Chief. As the King ascends the throne, honorary military roles undergo a gradual transformation, spotlighting a new era in royal engagements.
This week marked the debut engagement of the Princess of Wales, now the Colonel-in-Chief of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards Regiment. Her visit to soldiers at Robertson Barracks in Norfolk signifies not only a ceremonial role but a continuation of the close relationship between the Armed Forces and the Royal family in His Majesty's reign.
The regal realignment is not without its complexities. Princes Andrew and Harry stepping back from public life necessitates filling their regimental positions from a diminishing pool of working royals. While both expressed unhappiness at relinquishing their prestigious titles, the Palace emphasizes that the new appointments will sustain the authentic connection between the Armed Forces and the Royal family.
As the King assumes the most senior posts formerly held by the late Queen, the regimental reshuffle unveils a roster of new appointments. The Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Edinburgh bring added glamour to these roles, reinforcing the enduring bond between the monarchy and the military.
Amidst the transitions, a glimpse into the history of royal regiments offers insights into their traditions and valor. The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, donning the Royal Stewart tartan with a legacy dating back to King George VI's grant, showcased its prowess in the tank battle of Basra in 2003. Similarly, the Armoured Cavalry, with its motto "Fear Naught," carries forward a legacy from the First World War, commemorating officers with ash plant sticks.
In this regal reorganization, the evolving faces of Colonels-in-Chief symbolize not just a ceremonial shift but a nuanced blend of tradition, valor, and the evolving dynamics of the monarchy's relationship with its military counterparts.
Celebrating its finest hour at the Battle of Cambrai in 1917, the regiment annually commemorates a remarkable achievement. In less than 12 hours, they penetrated enemy lines by 10,000 yards, a feat that stood in stark contrast to a previous wartime penetration that took 12 months and incurred 250,000 casualties.
Known as "The Gunners," this corps, despite its name, comprises multiple regiments and has participated in every campaign the Army has ever fought. The King’s Troop, a ceremonial arm, fires royal salutes on state occasions using 100-year-old field guns from the First World War, requiring meticulous maintenance involving wood polish, metal polish, linseed oil, and man-hours.
An amalgamation of The Blues & Royals and the Life Guards, this regiment serves as the monarch’s trusted guardians since 1660. Divided into the mounted regiment for ceremonial duties and the HCR (Household Cavalry Regiment) as the fighting arm, their finest hour echoes at the historic Battle of Waterloo.
Formed in 1796, the unique role of chaplains as commissioned officers sets them apart in the Army. Despite not carrying arms, they have a distinguished history, with chaplains parachuting behind enemy lines in World War II and providing solace to captives in Far East prison camps.
Known as "The Death or Glory Boys," this regiment based in Catterick, North Yorkshire, boasts a distinctive skull and crossbones cap badge. Their finest hour includes training the Armed Forces of Ukraine as part of Operation Orbital.
As these regiments unfold their histories, each chapter reveals moments of courage, resilience, and dedication. Their traditions, mottos, and distinctive badges are not just symbols but echoes of the remarkable journeys these regiments have undertaken in service to crown and country.
Adorned with the motto "Honi soit qui mal y pense," meaning "Shamed be whoever thinks ill of it," the Grenadier Guards trace their lineage back to 1656. Raised in Bruges to protect the exiled Charles II, their finest hour resonates at the historic Battle of Waterloo.
With the motto "Swift and Bold," The Rifles, a rifle regiment based in Winchester, Hampshire, boasts unique nomenclature, referring to a private soldier as a Rifleman. As the Army’s largest regiment without symbolic "Colours," their notable achievements include challenging tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Established by Winston Churchill in 1942, the Army Air Corps, headquartered in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, has a storied history in the skies. Their finest hour during World War II involved the capture of the Caen Canal and Pegasus Bridge, showcasing their versatility in airborne operations.
Embodying the motto "Stand firm strike hard," The Mercian Regiment, based in Lichfield, Staffs, received a unique mascot, a Swaledale ram named Private Derby XXXII, in December 2017. Their proud legacy includes significant contributions during the First Gulf War.
Carrying the motto "Cymru am byth" (Wales forever), the Welsh Guards stationed at Wellington Barracks, London, don bright red tunics strategically chosen for concealment. Their pivotal role in the 1982 liberation of the Falklands highlights the sacrifices made, with 32 Guards perishing during the attack on the Sir Galahad.
As these regiments unveil their unique histories, each page turned reveals tales of resilience, sacrifice, and valor. From historic battles to contemporary challenges, these regiments, marked by their mottos and distinctive traditions, stand as custodians of a rich legacy, forging ahead with an unwavering commitment to honor, duty, and service.
With no specific motto, members of the Fleet Air Arm, affectionately known as WAFUs, find pride in the Fleet Air Arm Zig Zag—a light blue pattern on a dark blue background. Notable for the sinking of the Bismarck, their legacy is marked by achievements in naval aviation.
Embracing the motto "Pro rege et patria" (For King and country), the Welsh Cavalry stationed at Robertson Barracks in Norfolk has a unique historical connection. Appointed Colonel-in-Chief by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria in 1896, the regiment proudly wears the Austrian imperial coat of arms.
Guided by the motto "Quis separabit?" (Who shall separate us?), nicknamed "The Micks," the Irish Guards, headquartered in Aldershot, Hampshire, witnessed a historic moment as Prince William, then Colonel of the Irish Guards, wore their uniform at his wedding to Catherine Middleton. Their finest hour resonates in the First Battle of Ypres.
With the motto "Mente et manu" (Mind and main), dubbed "Churchill’s Own," this regiment at Regent’s Park Barracks, Tidworth, pays homage to Winston Churchill, considered "the greatest Hussar of them all." The Churchill Cup, awarded in an annual gunnery competition, reflects their commitment.
Guided by the motto "Quis separabit" (Who shall separate us), and known for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with bagpipes and Irish stew, the RDG, headquartered in York, played a vital role in Operation Herrick in Afghanistan.
With a rich history dating back to 1908, the London Regiment, headquartered at St John’s Hill, London, stands as a steadfast responder to every British conflict. From the trenches of the First World War to the streets of Baghdad, their commitment to duty is unwavering.
These military icons, with their distinct mottos, unique traditions, and remarkable achievements, weave a tapestry of valor and sacrifice. From the skies to horseback, each regiment carries forward a legacy of service, embodying the spirit of duty and patriotism.
Guided by the motto "Faugh a ballagh" (Clear the way) and headquartered in Holywood, the Royal Irish Regiment earned the Freedom of the Borough of Larne in honor of their valiant actions in the 2006 Battle of Musa Qala in Afghanistan. Their finest hour echoes in the courageous Operation Telic in Iraq.
With no specific motto or nickname, stationed at Fenham Barracks, Newcastle, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers boasts the Freedom of York, Chester, and Newcastle Upon Tyne. Their valor found expression in pivotal moments, especially during operations in Afghanistan.
Driven by the motto "Arte et marte" (By skill and by fighting) and known as "The Craftsmen," REME operates from MoD Lyneham, Wiltshire. In a unique post-war contribution, REME took over the Volkswagen factory in Berlin, providing light transport for the Allied Forces. Their prowess shone brightly in the 2nd Battle of Alamein.
Embracing the motto "Nemo me impune lacessit" (No one provokes me with impunity), and affectionately known as "The Jocks," the regiment, headquartered in Edinburgh Castle, holds a Shetland pony named "Cruachan!" as their mascot—a symbol resonating with the battle cries of Highland clans Campbell and MacIntyre. Their gallant history includes notable contributions in Afghanistan.
Operating under the motto "Manui dat cognitio vire" (Knowledge gives strength to the arm) and often referred to as "green slime," the Intelligence Corps, stationed at Chicksands, Bedfordshire, played a crucial role during World War II. Their operatives were trained for parachute missions, and a significant percentage of British Army personnel at Bletchley Park belonged to the Intelligence Corps.
These chapters in military history showcase the indomitable spirit, strategic brilliance, and unwavering commitment of these regiments. From battlegrounds in Afghanistan to vital wartime intelligence, each regiment leaves an indelible mark on the annals of valor and service.
In the intricate tapestry of military heritage, the changing of Colonels-in-Chief illuminates a storied history of valor, duty, and commitment. From the battle-hardened Royal Irish Regiment, symbolized by the rallying cry "Faugh a ballagh," to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, proudly bearing the Freedom of key cities, and the skilled artisans of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, each regiment adds a unique thread to the fabric of courage. The Royal Regiment of Scotland, with its unmistakable Scottish pride, and the Intelligence Corps, aptly named "green slime," stand as guardians of knowledge and strength. Together, these regiments weave a narrative of sacrifice, resilience, and unwavering service, leaving an indelible mark on the legacy of military excellence.