For the first time ever, Royal Navy sailors today performed ceremonial royal duties in London, taking part in Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
86 sailors from 45 Royal Navy ships and shore establishments have learned the intricate routines and drill movements needed for royal duties at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, Windsor Castle and the Tower of London, explains the Ministry of Defence.
The men and women – including sailors, submariners and naval airmen – have spent the past month training at the Royal Navy’s headquarters in Portsmouth, beating the parade ground, as well as by providing the ceremonial guard for Remembrance Sunday in Londo. Drill instructors from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards have been assisting with this.
Tomorrow, 27th November, they will also mount guard for the first time at Windsor Castle. While this is the navy’s first time, the Royal Marines have completed duties as The Queen’s Guard on three occasions.
The ceremony of the Changing of the Guard can be traced back to Henry VII, when a royal bodyguard was created. Guards regiments were formed to protect King Charles II in 1656.
The ceremony is traditionally performed by one of the five Foot Guards Regiments from the Army’s Household Division: Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards.
One Grenadier Guard joked: “We’ve been doing it for 300 years. It’s about time we let [the Navy] have a turn.
Distinctive in their navy coats, white and navy hats and caps, and white belts, the Royal Navy group marched from Wellington Barracks parade square with the Royal Marines Band, to meet their ceremonial duties at the palace.
Warrant Officer 1st Class Eddie Wearing, the Royal Navy’s state ceremonial training officer, said: “It’s daunting, but I’m very excited. To be the conducting Warrant Officer for the first mount ever in the Royal Navy is a massive privilege and an honour to do. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Leading them throughout will be Lieutenant Commander Steve Elliott, from Portsmouth, who will be the Captain of the Queen’s Guard. It is believed he will be the first person in the Royal Navy to assume the role since Sir Walter Raleigh in 1587.
“As we march out of Wellington Barracks for the first time I’m fairly sure everyone will feel an enormous sense of pride,” said Lt Cdr Elliott, who is undertaking the role before he deploys on operations to Somalia in January. “It’s great to do this ceremonial piece and have the Royal Navy in the public eye in this way.”
You can watch the sailors take part in Changing of the Guard here: