With a light dusting of snow on the grass, frosty temperatures and the Band of the Welsh Guards striking up a medley of carols and festive tunes, it really was the most wonderful time of the year for the 220 Officer Cadets of Commissioning Course 221.
This was, of course, the Sovereign’s Parade, the first full regular commissioning parade in over 70 years from which the cadets received a King’s Commission, although they needed to wait until the stroke of midnight to be able to officially call themselves commissioned officers.
Representing His Majesty King Charles III was His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester who inspected the cadets of the Senior Division (those who commission), as well as making an address to the parade and presenting the prizes to the top performing Officer Cadets:
- Sword of Honour (considered by the Commandant to be the best cadet of the intake) – Senior Under Officer H T Bignell commissioning into the Corps of Royal Engineers.
- International Sword (considered by the Commandant to be the best international cadet of the intake) – Officer Cadet E Gaye from The Gambia.
- Queen’s Medal (for the best overall results in military, academic and practical studies) – Officer Cadet A J T Cuthbert commissioning the into Queen’s Royal Hussars.
- International Award (for the international cadet with the best overall results in military, academic and practical studies) – Officer Cadet E Gaye from The Gambia.
In his speech, His Royal Highness thanked the Academy staff and congratulated the newly commissioned officer cadets who are about to leave Sandhurst to join their chosen regiments and corps.
His Royal Highness said:
“To the officer cadets before us, you are on the very cusp of a challenging and fulfilling career. At midnight tonight you will officially become graduates of the most famous military academy in the world; bear that in mind in the future, for whatever the situation you and your soldiers find yourselves in that is challenging, you have been tested before and you will be tested again for you all have proved by being here on this parade square today that you are more than equal to the task.”
Among those on parade was 26-year-old Officer Cadet Emily Nelson from Staffordshire who will be commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps. She applied to join the Army with a remarkable cycling background. A two times World Champion, four times European Champion track cyclist for Team GB and a Commonwealth Games competitor, Emily now hopes to be able to coach the Army’s cycling team and mentor its cyclists. She said:
“I always had it in the back of my head that when I retired (from competitive cycling) I’d like to join the Army – it’s got the same values, discipline and commitment, there are lots of parallels; so, for me moving into the Army lifestyle has been more of a switchover rather than a complete change.”
It takes 44 weeks of intensive training to mould the person who walks through the gates of the Academy to the point whereby they march onto the Sovereign’s Parade eager to be the latest to uphold Sandhurst’s motto ‘Serve to Lead’.
Officer Cadet Ethan Knight (25) is looking forward to taking up his commission into the Corps of Royal Engineers. Having completed his degree in chemical engineering at Birmingham University Ethan decided, having done a few civilian jobs, he wanted something with a bit of a faster pace and a bit more exciting, so he applied for the Army. “It’s been a hard 44 weeks lots of highs and lows; a very formative time.”
When asked what was his highest high, Ethan replied:
“It has to be the end of the final exercise ‘Dynamic Victory’ when you do the final attack and you get to put your beret on at the end and basically everything is done by that point – a proper proud moment.”
Ethan was referring to the finale of Exercise Dynamic Victory which is the last exacting test the officer cadets are put through. At the end of this they finally get to don the headgear of the regiments and corps they will commission into. It is very much considered a seminal moment in the path to becoming an Army Officer.
With kind permission to republish from the British Army. For more news from the British Army click here.