British Monarchist League
 
Part Two In A Series of Essays
By:
Thomas J. Muscatello-DeLacroix Mills 
Secretary General, The British Monarchist League

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Buckingham Palace has always been known to put on a great show, if not the greatest show on earth. This show of great spectacle and colourful patriotism is at its best when the Royal Calendar and the “London Social Season” are together at their combined height, in which the Palace defines the very essence and meaning of what it is to be truly and uniquely British under the crown. As London is filled with the sounds of massed bands on parade, gun salutes, and millions of camera’s shutters, the union jack flag vendors and the cheers of hundreds of thousands of people, a complete scene unfolds that is very much an iconic image of how Britain is seen by the world. We are defined by more than just the millions of post cards that are purchased, and the billions of photos that are taken each year that showcase our brave soldiers in scarlet uniforms with black bear skin hats, or others which are mounted on horses in uniforms of blue and gold or red and white. These images of our nation are the roots of our heritage, the fabric of our culture, and the living symbols of the majesty and might of our people, in which Her Majesty the Queen is the key component of our national identity. It is because of the presence and existence of our sovereign that we are able to witness the very events that are to be discussed in this series of essays.

As explored in Defining Britain, Part I, we accept that as a nation our national days of celebration are not like those of republics with one set annual day (i.e. Bastille or Independence Day), but are far and few in between. However when our national days are celebrated they are marked with a royal flair where the general theme is based around unity and the nation in whole. The greatest and most colourful events in not only the national calendar, but the London social season take place in the height of the Royal Calendar during the month of June. This is the months in which a majority of Royal events are scheduled very tightly together which lead up to the grand finale which includes Royal Ascot and then Wimbledon which closes out the “season”.  The second weekend in June is not only the most important weekend of the calendar but the most strenuous, tedious, and busy for the many royal, governmental, and Armed Forces parties involved. Beginning with the Beating Retreat on Thursday evening (as explained in Defining Britain, Part I ), the pace of the weekend quickens when the climax of the royal calendar, The Queen’s Birthday Parade, which is more commonly known as Trooping the Colour is presented by the Palace.  Let us further explore in great detail the divisions of the Queen’s Guard as well as the many intricate components of the Queen’s Birthday Parade.

Her Majesty's Guards

The Beating Retreat and Trooping the Colour are two distinct ceremonies that illustrate the discipline and traditions that have made the Guards Division of the British Army one of the most respected military divisions the world over. For as long as they have served and protected their sovereign, the Guards have been not only a vital component on fields of battle, but an important aspect to the regal flavour of our ceremonial events. In the past, these unique events were a routine practise that ensured the efficiency and control of large bodies of men in a time when modern technologies had not yet been developed. These ceremonies are a very important component to the ceremonial aspect of our modern army, which serve as a useful reminder to all Guardsmen that they belong to an elite division of soldiers with a distinguished record and exemplary history. Identifying our soldiers in Scarlet can be a difficult task if one is unsure of which symbols identify them with their proper divisions. Though each division of the Queens Guard is dressed in scarlet with their traditional black bearskins, each one has different emblems and markings to identify which division they belong to, and this too will be explained in the paragraphs below. It is a common belief held by many that the Guards tunic is scarlet to mask blood if wounded, however this fallacy is discarded as scarlet was a very early form of camouflage. It is when soldiers marched en masse in scarlet, which makes it more difficult than any other colour to separate individuals for a proper count. As Her Majesty is Colonel-in-Chief of all the forces and its regiments, each division of the Queen’s Foot Guard retains a member of the Royal Family as the Colonel of each Regiment, with the exception of the Coldstream Guards. 
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Grenadier Guards – The formation of this regiment took place during Cromwell’s Republic while King Charles II was in exile in 1656. It was honour, duty, and loyalty to the crown that the King’s men followed him into exile, in which they vowed to protect and serve their Sovereign. Since then the Grenadier Guards have served ten Kings and three Queens, including Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. There have been only a handful of names for this regiment, having been termed the First Regiment of Foot Guards, and now as we know them to be: The First, or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards. The Grenadiers are a proud regiment, having served in almost every major conflict with the British Army. They are also the most senior regiment of the Guards Division and as such, are the most senior regiment of infantry (not the Army). This highly esteemed division of Her Majesty’s Guard has been awarded 74 battle Honours and has received 13 Victoria Crosses during their service to the crown. The grouping of buttons on a soldiers tunic is a common way to distinguish between the regiments of Foot Guards, in which the buttons worn by the Grenadiers reflect their position as the most senior of the Foot Guard regiments. Grenadier Guards' buttons are equally spaced and embossed with the Royal Cypher, which are then reversed and interlaced surrounded by the Royal Garter which reads “Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil be to him who evil thinks). The Grenadiers not only adopted their bearskins in which they are identified not only by their buttons, but also the white plume located on the left hand side of their bearskin, but also acquired the name “Grenadier” by royal proclamation in 1815 after the defeat of Napoleon’s Grenadiers at Waterloo. The Grenadier wide "Buff Belt" brass clasped also bares the Royal Cypher. The current and serving Grenadier Guardsmen don a cap badge of a grenade fired proper (flaming grenade) with a total of seventeen engraved flames. This cap badge must be cleaned twice a day (composed of brass it will tarnish) as a tarnished grenade is seen as disrespectful by all in the regiment. H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh is the Colonel of this regiment of Grenadier Guards.
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Coldstream Guards – In 1650 Colonel George Monck formed this regiment from regiments of the New Modern Army at Berwick-on-Tweed, where this division was garrisoned on the Scottish border at Coldstream. This regiment is the oldest regiment in the Regular Army in continuous active service to the crown. It was after Cromwell’s death in 1658 that this regiment (then known as Monck’s Soldiers) helped to restore law and order during the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660. It was during this time that a great need for special forces to protect the King, which led to this division being one of the first regiments in the army under King Charles II. This division of the Gurads was placed as the second senior regiment of Household Troops, as it entered into the service of the Crown after the Grenadier Guards. Due to this fact, the Coldstream Guards adopted the motto Nulli Secundus (Second to None), due to the fact that the regiment is older than the Grenadier regiment. While on Parade, the Coldstreams always stands on the left of the line with the rest of the Foot Guards, in which they are standing "second to none". The Coldstream Guards are known for having the longest record of unbroken service to the crown, more so than any other regular division in the Army due to their early formation in Berwick-on-Tweed. The Coldstream Guards were officially titled as such in 1670 after the death of Colonel Monck. Different that the Grenadier Buttons, Coldstream buttons are arranged in pairs. They also are identified by a star of the garter, which is embossed on their brassware plates. With a red plume in their bearskins, all Coldstream Guardsmen wear the 'Home Service' Dress tunic in summer or greatcoat in winter for their public duties. Lieutenant General James Bucknall, CBE is the Colonel of this regiment of the Welsh Guards.
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Scots GuardsThese Scottish soldiers form the third regiment of the Queen’s Guard. They were formed on the orders of King Charles I by Lord Archibald (1st Marquis of Argyll), where the Scots Guard was placed on the English Establishment in 1686, thus becoming part of the British Army. They have served the crown loyally for 368 years and have also served in almost every major conflict with the British Army where it was a Scots Guardsman who was the first to receive a Victoria Cross. Their motto being “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit”, or No One Provokes Me Without Impunity, the Scots hold 93 Battle Honours, 11 of them being the Victoria Cross. Scots Guardsmen can be recognised by having the buttons on their tunics spaced in groups of threes without any plume present on their bearskins. H.R.H. The Duke of Kent is the Colonel of this regiment of Scots Guards.
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Irish Guards - The Irish Guards regiment was formed on 1, April 1900 by the orders of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. This creation of another guard regiment was to commemorate the Irish people who fought in the Second Boer War for the British Empire. Since 1902, an Irish Wolfhound has been presented as a mascot to the regiment by the members of the Irish Wolfhound Club, which is a tradition that continues to this day. Due to a darkened economic feeling shortly after the Irish Guards formation, the regiment's existence was threatened briefly when Winston Churchill (who served as Secretary of State for War between 1919 and 1921), sought the elimination of the Irish Guards and the Welsh Guards as an economy measure. Despite the economic restrictions on the nation, Churchill’s suggestion did not find favour in the government and was soon dropped. The regiment’s motto, "Quis Separabit", or "Who shall separate us" is derived from the Order of St. Patrick.  The "Home Service Dress" of the Irish Guards is a scarlet tunic and the trademark bearskin of the British Guards. As with the other regiments, the Buttons on the Irish Guards tunic’s are worn in two rows of four, reflecting the regiment's position as the fourth most senior Guards regiment, and the collar is adorned with a shamrock on either side. The Irish plume is blue and located on the right side of the bearskin. A plume of St. Patrick's blue was selected because blue is the colour of the mantle and sash of the Order of St. Patrick, which is an order of chivalry founded by King George III for the Kingdom of Ireland in February 1783 from which the regiment also draws its cap star and motto. Blue was selected because the uniform of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, which were still in existence at the time the Irish Guards were formed, was a scarlet tunic and bearskin with a green plume. St. Patrick's Day is the traditional regimental celebration. H.R.H. The Duke of Cambridge is the Colonel of this regiment of Irish Guards.
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Welsh Guards - The Welsh Guards were brought into being on 26, February 1915 by a Royal Warrant by His Majesty King George V which included Wales in the national scheme of Foot Guards. The Welsh Guards were the last Guard to be created. It was only three days after their inception that the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards mounted its first King’s Guard at Buckingham Palace on St. David’s Day – 1, March 1915. The Motto of the Welsh Guards is “Cymru am Byth” (Wales Forever), and it is with great pride that they have served in Both World Wars, the Falklands War, the Iraq War and that of Afghanistan. The Welsh Guards have always maintained strong links with Wales, so much so that 90% of its guardsmen hail from that part of the Kingdom. The Welsh Guards are identified by having their buttons on their tunic arranged in two groups of five, with a distinctive white/green/white plume on the left hand side of their bearskins. H.R.H. The Prince of Wales it the Colonel of this regiment of Welsh Guards.

This in depth look of the Queens Guard (as broken down by regiment) will give each reader terrific insight as to each regiment’s duty as we progress further in this series of essays. In the coming series, the Household Cavalry will be explored in great detail together with each Division’s relationship and duty with regard to Her Majesty’s Birthday Parade and Trooping the Colour.  The Household Cavalry is a term which is used to describe the cavalry of the Household Division which is our nation’s most elite and historically senior military grouping which provides functions associated directly with our Sovereign, the Queen. Comprised of the Life Guards, the Blues and Royals, and the Royal Horse Artillery, the Household Cavalry together with each division of the Queens Foot Guard, is at their best when on display as we will find in our next installment, for their Sovereign at Trooping the Colour.