Thank you for your impeccable service, Sir

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F Company Scots Guards and Scots Guard veterans give three cheers to HRH the Duke of Kent as he leaves Wellington Barracks for the last time as their Colonel and Chief, after 50 year’s service. Photographer: Sergeant Rob Kane. UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024 News / Editorial Licence.

The late Queen’s cousin has bowed out as Colonel of the Scots Guards after 50 years of impeccable service.

The Duke of Kent expressed his profound pride as he stepped down as colonel of the Scots Guards after being appointed in 1974, culminating in a final ceremony on Sunday.

Edward, Duke of Kent, assumed the position after nearly two decades of military service as a Second Lieutenant with the Royal Scots Greys in 1955.

A lifetime of service At 18, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Greys.

His Royal Highness’ military career included a regimental tour in Hong Kong before commanding a squadron of his regiment serving in Cyprus as part of the United Nations Force. He retired from the Army after 21 years’ service in 1976 having attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

His Royal Highness was appointed Colonel of the Scots Guards Regiment on 9th September 1974 – the Regiment’s 26th Colonel.

The late Queen Elizabeth and her cousin, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent at the Platinum Jubilee. Photographer: Sgt Donald C Todd. MOD Crown Copyright News / Editorial Licence.

In his closing remarks at the ceremony on Sunday, the 88-year-old royal paid tribute to the “bravery, selfless courage, and devotion to duty” exhibited by the Scots Guards.

The Duke said:

“Serving as Colonel of the Scots Guards since 1974, the longest anyone has spent in this role, has been a true honour and one which will forever fill me with great joy.

“Through those years, I have seen the work of the Scots Guards during peacetime and war and witnessed their bravery, selfless courage and devotion to duty.

“To my fellow Scots Guardsmen, I am immensely proud to have served you all. I am delighted that His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will continue to champion all that you do and work towards preserving your great legacy.”

The day commenced with a morning service at the Guards Chapel in central London, marking Black Sunday, the regiment’s annual day of remembrance for its fallen comrades and their families. Both active members of the Scots Guards, adorned in the regiment’s iconic red tunic, and veteran Guardsmen attended the service.

The Scots Guards’ annual Black Sunday parade witnessed His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent’s final day as Colonel of the Regiment after a remarkable 50 years of devoted service. Photographer: Sergeant Rob Kane UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024 MOD Crown Copyright News / Editorial Licence.

The Regimental family gathered in their hundreds to bid farewell with music, marching, memories, mementos and a heartfelt thank you, cheered by all.

The Scots Guards’ Black Sunday is a key event of the year for this dual-role regiment, which cherishes a glorious history dating back to 1642. It is their annual remembrance Sunday service and parade, when they pay tribute to all that have gone before, and enjoy reconnecting with the Scots Guards family, old and new.

This year was particularly poignant as it marked the final visit to the regiment of His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent in his role as their Colonel. The Duke of Kent has given selfless service and loyalty to the Regiment and, while they were sad to say goodbye, the Scots Guards were determined to give their Colonel the send-off he so richly deserved.

Colonel James Leask, Regimental Lieutenant Colonel, The Scots Guards said:

“The serving and retired elements of the Scots Guards Regimental Family came together in the Guards’ Chapel, on our Regimental Remembrance Sunday, to show their huge appreciation to His Royal Highness and to salute him one final time.

“The Duke of Kent has been at the helm of the Scots Guards for fifty years. He is the only Colonel most of us have known. He has been a constant in a rapidly changing world. His loyalty to the Regiment and selfless commitment to the country is an example to us all.” 

A procession comprising the Scots Guards band, pipes, and serving troops then made its way from the chapel to the Guards Memorial, honoring members of the Guards Division who perished in world wars and subsequent conflicts. The procession was accompanied by numerous veteran Guardsmen, many adorned with service medals.

The Scots Guards, one of the five Regiments of Foot Guards within the British Army’s Household Division, perform ceremonial duties such as participating in major state events in support of the monarch. Additionally, when not engaged in ceremonial duties, the Guardsmen undertake active military operations and training exercises globally.

Following a wreath-laying ceremony at the war memorial, attended by hundreds of spectators from St James’s Park, the Duke of Kent presided over the parade as Guardsmen and veterans marched past in a display of honor and respect. This was followed by a performance of “The Colonel,” a newly composed piece paying tribute to the former colonel.

In the barracks, the duke engaged with soldiers and their families informally, receiving a framed pipe banner as a token of appreciation.

Upon relinquishing the colonelcy, the duke expressed his gratitude for the honor, acknowledging the bravery and dedication of the Scots Guards throughout his tenure. He expressed immense pride in having served alongside them and expressed confidence in the leadership of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, who will continue to champion their endeavors.

As The Duke said his final farewells, his route was lined by members of the regiment from the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, F Company Scots Guards, G Company London Guards, the Band of the Scots Guards, and association veterans, all loudly cheering their Colonel. Their cheers and the sound of the Pipe Major performing “Highlan’ Laddie” – the Scots Guards’ regimental march – followed for long after he was gone.

F Company Scots Guards and Scots Guard veterans give three cheers to HRH the Duke of Kent as he leaves Wellington Barracks for the last time as their Colonel and Chief, after 50 year’s service. Photographer: Sergeant Rob Kane UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024 MOD Crown Copyright News / Editorial Licence.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent handed over Colonelcy of the Regiment to His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh immediately following the parade. Colonel James Leask commented:

“The Regiment is delighted that His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will shortly become the twenty-seventh Colonel Scots Guards. This is a seminal moment for us. It marks the end of a remarkable era and the start of a new and exciting chapter in our long and distinguished history.”

As the new Colonel of the Scots Guards, The Duke of Edinburgh said:

“The Duke of Kent has been an extraordinary Colonel of the Scots Guards. Quite apart from his depth of knowledge and keen understanding of the Regiment and all those who serve, past and present, he has been a tireless and passionate advocate.

“It is a distinct honour to be asked and entrusted by His Majesty to serve as the next Colonel. However, I accept with a degree of trepidation as I will undoubtedly be measured against the formidable record and reputation of my predecessor. I can only promise to do my best.” 

Formed in 1642 as King Charles I’s personal bodyguard, the Scots Guards have played pivotal roles in numerous conflicts worldwide.

An unrivalled history The Scots Guards were first raised as a regiment of Foot Guards by King Charles I in 1642 during the English Civil War. They were originally known as the Marquis of Argyll’s Royal Regiment of Foot, and their primary role was to protect the Scottish borders.

However, they soon became involved in the wider conflicts of the time, including the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. During the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Scots Guards played a crucial role in supporting William of Orange’s claim to the throne. They fought in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and the Battle of Landen in 1693, both of which were decisive victories for William’s forces.

In the 18th Century, the Scots Guards saw action in various European conflicts including the War of the Spanish succession and the War of the Austrian Succession. They also played a significant role in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, where they fought alongside the British and Allied forces against Napoleon Bonaparte’s army.

During World War I, the Scots Guards fought on the Western Front, taking part in major battles such as the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Passchendaele. They also served in the Middle East in the campaigns against Mesopotamia and Palestine. In World War II, the Scots Guards fought in North Africa, Italy and Northwest Europe. They were involved in the famous Battle of Monte Cassino and played a crucial role in the liberation of Brussels in 1944.

Since then, the Scots Guards have been deployed to various conflict zones around the world, including the Falklands War in 1982 where the 2nd Battalion seized Mount Tumbledown. More recently, the Scots Guards have been deployed to Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq. Persistently engaged across the globe Currently based in Somme Barracks, Catterick in Yorkshire, the Regiment has recently returned from deployment to Estonia as well as exercises in Oman, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar.

The Regiment is currently preparing for Exercise Wessex Storm in anticipation of future deployments as well as being part of NATO’s High Readiness Force. The Regiment is known, beyond its distinguished reputation in combat, for its distinctive uniform which includes the scarlet tunic and bearskin of the five regiments of Foot Guards. The Scots Guards’ buttons are in threes denoting its seniority as well as wearing no plume in the bearskin. Today they maintain, on top of their excellence on parade, a fearsome combat capability as a Light Mechanised Infantry Battalion ready to deploy anywhere around the world.

The Regiment’s motto is ‘Nemo Me Impune Lacessit’ which means ‘No one may strike me with impunity’ reflecting a hard-earned pride in their history.

A new era dawns The Duke of Edinburgh is proud to support the work of the Armed Forces both in the United Kingdom and overseas and meets service personnel and their families whenever possible. His Royal Highness is Royal Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry and, in 2007, became Royal Colonel of 2nd Battalion The Rifles following the reorganisation of the Infantry. His Royal Highness regularly visits the Battalion at their base in Northern Ireland and while on operational duties, including in Afghanistan with the then Countess of Wessex in 2009 and most recently in Estonia. In 2023, His Royal Highness became Colonel of The Royal Dragoon Guards and The Queen’s Royal Hussars.

The Duke of Edinburgh, the regiment’s 27th colonel, praised his predecessor’s unwavering dedication and pledged to uphold the regiment’s esteemed legacy to the best of his ability.

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