Yesterday Prince Harry returned to Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, from which he graduated 11 years ago; he was standing in for The Queen at the centuries-old Sovereign’s Parade.
The Sovereign’s Parade is where the King or Queen (or their representative) marks the passing out of cadets who have completed their intensive year-long training course; 162 officer cadets from the UK, and 25 from 20 overseas countries graduated yesterday.
They also hand out awards to four of the top cadets graduating from army officer training, for the Sovereign’s most prestigious awards: the Sword of Honour, Overseas Sword, Queen’s Medal, and International Award.
Prior to the official ceremony, the Prince attended the commissioning ceremony in the Royal Memorial Chapel. He told the recruits: “You are now part of something much bigger than yourself… No matter how challenging the road ahead becomes, the time you have spent in this great place has prepared you to face any test.”
At the passing out, Harry took the royal salute from the graduating officers, whilst at the same time Kensington Palace announced the date of his marriage to Meghan Markle.
In 2006, when Harry graduated from Sandhurst, he was inspected at the graduation by his grandmother, The Queen, with several photographs published at the time showing him grinning at her as she walked past. Graduates from the military college include Sir Winston Churchill, the Sultan of Brunei, James Bond author Ian Fleming, and of course, The Duke of Cambridge.
HRH was commissioned as an Army officer in April 2006. The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, took the salute at the Sovereign’s Parade at Sandhurst. The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and The Duke of Cambridge also attended the Parade. pic.twitter.com/m5ozneIWnr
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) December 15, 2017
The Band of the Scots Guards played music including Adele’s Rolling In The Deep, as the soldiers marched in front of the Royal.
Prince Harry then inspected the troops in their uniformed finery. In a speech on the parade ground, he also joked it was the first time he was on the other end of the inspection, and the first time with a beard.
Addressing the new recruits on the bright but bitterly cold December day, he said: “It is not the first time that I have been a part of this parade but it is certainly my first one facing in this direction – and with facial hair!
“A little over 11 years ago, I was stood where you are today. Although I confess, I don’t remember any deep thoughts of duty, responsibility and leadership at that point.
“My head was filled with much more immediate concerns: numb feet, the buckle of my braces digging into my collarbone, a burning in my arm from the weight of the rifle; and above all, desperate attempts to remember what the next words of command were, to avoid drawing the attention from the Academy sergeant major one last time!”