The Irish Guards provided a warm welcome despite sub-zero conditions on Salisbury Plain this week for their new Royal Colonel, Catherine, Princess of Wales.
Though harsh winds blew across the Plain, stinging faces and fingers with cold, nothing could lessen the pleasure and enthusiasm of the Irish Guardsmen as they showed The Princess what they have been doing recently on operational duties across the world.
It was a dramatic introduction to the Regiment and the Guardsmen reported they were extremely impressed with how their new Royal Colonel had been so genuinely interested and willing to get “hands on” from the start.
The Irish Guards are known for their charm and bright humour and smiles soon wreathed every face. Irish Guards Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel James Aldridge said:
“It is particularly special and fitting on International Women’s’ Day that we get to welcome HRH the Princess of Wales into the Irish Guards family as our new Regimental Colonel. It is a real honour for the young guardsmen to meet their Royal Colonel in the field here on Salisbury Plain and demonstrate a few of our basic operational skills.”
The Irish Guards, formed by Queen Victoria in 1900, are experts in infantry combat. Their specialisms include reconnaissance, engaging enemy troops with machine guns and mortars, deploying their snipers with laser-like accuracy and anti-tank operations.
The new Royal Colonel was briefed on their impressive operational capabilities by Regimental Lieutenant Colonel of the Irish Guards, Major General Christopher Ghika and the Commanding Officer Irish Guards, Lieutenant Colonel James Aldridge. They explained that The Irish Guards are part of the British Army’s 11th Security Force Assistance Brigade which was formed in 2021 to train, advise and assist foreign forces. Routinely deployed around the world, Security Force Assistance units help prevent conflict and instil resilience at an early stage when danger threatens, by enhancing the capacity and capabilities of allied and partner nations.
Her Royal Highness met some of the men and women of the Irish Guards from a range of ranks, all of whom were keen to make her feel welcome in Her new role as head of the Regimental family.
Guardsmen from Number One and Number Two Company told her of some of the extraordinary and life-changing experiences they have had while recently deployed in East Africa. Some had been involved in Counter Poaching operations, where they worked closely with Park Rangers in Zambia to protect wildlife and prevent international criminal activity. Others have been involved in helping allied nations prevent conflict and terrorist insurgency in areas of serious political and economic instability in the region. The Irish Guards are also currently working as part of an international military training team here in the UK, training Ukrainian Armed Forces with the basic combat infantry skills they will need to defend their homeland.
Soldiers from Number Three Company demonstrated two of the elements they are using on the Ukrainian Recruits’ training course. The first was a demonstration of Counter-Explosive Ordnance which showed life-saving de-mining skills; the second was an impressively realistic casualty extraction battle exercise.
The Princess was invited to take part in the training herself. Thrust into the midst of a casualty simulation exercise, complete with gunfire, fake blood, and horribly realistic fake wounds, Her Royal Highness was shown how to carry out battlefield casualty drills to deliver care to injured soldiers in the heat of battle. She was then given a brief introduction to the impressive array of weapon systems used by the Irish Guards.