Canadian soldiers UK bound to assume duties as the Queen’s Guard

GARRISON PETAWAWA – This fall, a company of 82 personnel from the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment (3RCR) and 38 members of the Royal Canadian Artillery Band will assume ceremonial duties as the Queen’s Guard in London, England.

Formed up on Simmonds Parade Square at Garrison Petawawa, the Royal Canadian Regiment Public Duties 2018 contingent will contribute to The Queen’s Guard comprising of units charged with guarding the Sovereign and the official royal residences within the London District from Oct. 21 to Nov. 12.

The Queen’s Guard are soldiers charged with guarding the official royal residences in the U.K. These include Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace, Windsor Castle, and the Tower of London. This is the first time since 2000 that the RCR have been given the honour. This past summer, the Royal Canadian Air Force sent a contingent to London to perform Public Duties for the first time in its 94-year history.

Designated the Public Duties contingent, the Royals have been busy rehearsing for the complex drill movements that will have to be executed during their six week tour as part of the Queen’s Guard. The contingent leaves Canada on Oct. 9. They take up their duties on Oct. 21 and will continue until Nov. 12.

Warrant Officer 2 Kirkland Gill points out some parade directions to the Royal Canadian Regiment Public Duties contingent as they conduct a final dress rehearsal before heading to London, England. Warrant Officer 2 Gill is one of two British drill instructors visiting Petawawa to prepare the RCRs for becoming part of the Queen’s Guard.

Family, friends and fellow comrades gathered at Simmonds Parade Square to watch the final dress rehearsal. The parade was being directed by Warrant Officer 2 Kirkland Gill and Sergeant Jamie Mitchell, drill instructors from the U.K. who were here to ensure the Royal Canadians, dressed in their traditional scarlets, were up to the standards expected of Her Majesty’s guard. Lieutenant Colonel Kris Reeves, 3RCR’s commanding officer, said being part of the Queen’s Guard reinforces the concept that Canada and the U.K. are true coalition partners.

“The idea that a Canadian Armed Forces element, a Canadian regiment, the RCR, is heading over to the U.K. to guard the sovereign in somebody else’s country is a major signal that we are not just partners but we are friends,” said Lieutenant Colonel Reeves. “This is a significant event. You will be there representing a battle tested tradition that is nation-to-nation.”

The Royal Canadian Regiment shares a long history and heritage with The Crown. The Regiment was granted the right to wear the Imperial Crown and Cypher by Queen Victoria in 1893. “Victoria Regina Imperatrix” (Victoria, Queen, Empress) or “VRI” is worn prominently and proudly on the Regimental cap badge. In 1919, The Regiment received permission to wear the Imperial Crown and Cypher permanently from King George V. The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is the current Colonel-in-Chief of The RCR, a role he has fulfilled since 1953. Units from the British Empire and the Commonwealth have periodically mounted the King’s Guard/Queen’s Guard beginning in September 1916 when Canada provided soldiers from the 117th (Eastern Townships) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, to undertake public duties.

Photo: Sean Chase Taking part in dress rehearsals at Garrison Petawawa, the Royal Canadian Artillery Band will provide the music for the Royal Canadian Regiment Public Duties 2018 contingent when they deploy to London, England to join the Queen’s Guard.

“The traditions that we’ve inherited are not just ceremonial traditions,” said Lieutenant Colonel Reeves. “These are operational, battle tested traditions and I think it’s really important to maintain those and understand where they came from.”

RCR Guard Public Duties is being led by Major Ben Lacey, Officer Commanding November Company, and his sergeant major, Master Warrant Officer Donovan Crawford. The contingent also includes soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 2nd Battalion and 4th Battalion.

“This is a great and rare honour for Canadians,” said Major Lacey. “This is a once-in-a-career and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us.”

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Sean Chase

Sean Chase is a newspaper journalist with 25 years experience. He also serves in the Canadian Armed Forces as a battery sergeant-major at 42nd Field Regiment in Pembroke, Ontario

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