National Post (Latest Edition)

Canadian soldiers guarding Queen

- Tristin Hopper

For the next month, Canadian soldiers will officially be in charge of guarding Queen Elizabeth II, including the iconic duty of standing stoically in a sentry box outside Buckingham Palace.

This week, The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery officially took up the job of Queen’s Guard. Until Oct. 22, 90 soldiers from the Manitoba-based unit will be in charge of guarding Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Windsor Castle and St. James’s Palace.

On Wednesday, the Queen herself greeted members of the regiment where, according to an official Facebook post, she heard about “their homes and families in Canada.”

The British press was quick to note that Elizabeth wore the Maple Leaf Brooch, a piece of jewelry often worn by members of the Royal Family when meeting Canadians.

It was first worn by the Queen’s mother when she accompanie­d King George VI on his 1939 tour of Canada. Elizabeth, who turned 95 in April, no longer travels outside the United Kingdom, but the 75-year-old brooch was worn by Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, during her 2016 royal tour of Canada.

The Queen’s Guard are known best for their reputation of not smiling or laughing while standing sentry outside royal properties in London. The Canadians will be expected to stand twohour shifts at a time up to three times per day.

The guards are allowed to move (they are required to do a short marching drill every 10 minutes to keep from fainting), but they are indeed expected to stand stoically in the face of extreme weather, staring contests from tourists and even urinary emergencie­s.

According to one Guardsman interviewe­d in 2011, soldiers are expected to pee their pants if required, with the dark colour of the uniform usually sufficient to hide any evidence of the accident.

In a Reddit Q+A eight years ago, one guardsman even described being kissed by a random woman. “Tried getting some tongue in too,” he wrote.

Being a Queen’s Guard is not a purely ceremonial role.

The Queen’s Guard will march with loaded rifles if needed, and are known to point those rifles at particular­ly unruly tourists. In an emergency situation, they are authorized to perform arrests.

Queen’s Guards will also occasional­ly collide with bystanders if they refuse to get out of the way of the path of a marching sentry. The protocol in such cases is for guards to shout “make way for the Queen’s Guard.”

Guarding the sovereign is usually performed by one of five British regiments, each of them easily identifiab­le by their red uniforms and large bearskin caps.

However, the job has occasional­ly been taken on by Commonweal­th regiments. In early 1940 — with most British soldiers in France preparing for Nazi invasion — King George VI was guarded by a rotating cast of Canadian regiments newly mobilized for war.

The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery was invited to take up duty as Queen’s Guards in order to commemorat­e their 150th anniversar­y.

The regiment was one of the first profession­al units of the Canadian Army formed after Confederat­ion. Until then, Canada’s defence had mostly been in the hands of British troops and militia units.

On Oct. 4, led by the Edmonton-based Royal Canadian Artillery band, the Canadians officially took charge of the Queen’s security in a Change of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace.

 ?? STEVE PARSONS / POOL VIA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II meets members of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery at Windsor Castle in England on Wednesday.
STEVE PARSONS / POOL VIA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II meets members of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery at Windsor Castle in England on Wednesday.

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