A female, Canadian, Infantry officer is taking international headlines by storm after making history in the United Kingdom this week.
Capt. Megan Couto has became the first female Infantry Officer to command the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace.
“I am extremely honoured to have the privilege of commanding one of the five Queen’s Guards here in the United Kingdom. Celebrating Canada 150 as part of the Queen’s Guard is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Couto.
No woman has ever served as Captain of the Queen’s Guard since the ban on women serving in combat roles in the British Armed Forces was lifted only last year. Typically, the role of mounting the Queen’s Guard is undertaken by the British army’s household division, comprised mostly of male soldiers.
Ground close combat roles in the British Army are expected to be open to women by the end of 2018.
“For myself, it’s definitely a huge honour. Being the first female, I think it’s just something that Canada does. I’m proud to represent Canada’s military, Canada’s infantry and all the diversity that comes within that,” said Couto to BBC News.
Canada was one of the first countries to open up combat roles to women. Canadian women have been welcomed to these roles since 1989.
“Congratulations to Captain Megan Couto, who made history today as the first Infantry woman to Captain the Queen’s Guard. Women have been involved in Canada’s military service for more than 100 years. The Canadian Armed Forces takes pride in being a leader in the field of equality and women’s rights. Bravo Zulu Captain Couto!” said Harjit Sajjan, Minister of Defence.
Couto has been a member of the Canadian Armed Forces sine the summer of 2010. After completing her degree at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, she was posted to the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI).
As part of Canada’s 150 celebrations, 80 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion PPCLI and 35 members of the Royal Canadian Artillery Band are taking part in ceremonial duties as the Queen’s Guard in the U.K.
The 2nd Battalion, PPCLI, will be mounting the Guard from June 26 to July 3.