The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Defence Chief under f ire for wearing medal he won… as an archer

- By Mark Nicol

AT a military awards ceremony last week, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace wore the Northern Ireland service medal adorned with bronze oak leaf that, as a Scots Guards officer, he won in 1992 for being mentioned in dispatches after capturing an IRA unit.

But some guests were more interested in a second medal that was pinned to the former MSP’s chest during the ceremony – known as The Millies – to mark the valour of the Armed Forces.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, introduced in 2012, is given to military personnel and emergency service staff with at least five years’ continuous service until at least February 6, 2012.

But Mr Wallace left the Army around 1998, sparking speculatio­n that he was wearing a medal he had not earned.

The Mail on Sunday has establishe­d, however, that he is entitled to wear it through his associatio­n with the Royal Company of Archers (RCA), a ceremonial society whose members are largely drawn from Scotland’s nobility.

The RCA – formed in 1676 – has 500 members who carry longbows and dress in feathered caps and embroidere­d tunics at ceremonial events.

But Mr Wallace’s rather peculiar entitlemen­t to the medal has not impressed everyone.

One serving Non-Commission­ed Officer said: ‘Nobody doubts the Defence Secretary’s gallantry, but as he only qualified for the Jubilee Medal through membership of this peculiar ceremonial outfit, he was not best advised to wear it to the Millies or on Remembranc­e Sunday, which he’s done in the past.

‘A few soldiers were muttering that perhaps they worked a bit harder for the right to wear it than the Archers, who haven’t drawn a bow in anger for centuries.’ A spokesman for Mr Wallace – who was an MSP from 1999 to 2003, when he was the Tories’ health spokesman – declined to comment.

 ??  ?? TARGET: Ben Wallace wears his Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal at a Remembranc­e Sunday ceremony
TARGET: Ben Wallace wears his Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal at a Remembranc­e Sunday ceremony
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