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21st April 1942

For the Regiment as a whole, and for a great concourse of old Grenadiers, the outstanding feature of the spring has of course been the first inspection of the Regiment by our Colonel, HRH Princess Elizabeth, on her sixteenth birthday, 21st April 1942.

For this great occasion there assembled in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle detachments of eight officers and forty-seven other ranks from each battalion, a like number from Depot and Comrades Association, all officer candidates at Sandhurst and Caterham, and some 500 guests, the relations or friends of Grenadiers.

The Regiment was drawn up in line and in threes facing south, with the Band and massed Drums from three battalions in the rear. At 10.45 the Lieutenant Colonel and Commanding Officers awaited Their Majesties and HRH at the foot of the stairs inside the Sovereign’s Entrance, and there the Lieutenant Colonel, after presenting the Commanding Officers, offered for HRH’s acceptance a brooch in the design of the Regimental Cypher as a birthday present from the officers of the Regiment. Those who heard the reply are not likely to forget the simplicity and grace with which the Princess spoke of her pride in the Regiment which she had already learned to love.

The officers then joined the parade and at eleven o’clock Their Majesties and HRH proceeded to the saluting base for a Royal Salute, followed by the inspection. At its conclusion, the Regiment marched past in quick time, re-formed in its original position, then advanced in Review Order before a second Royal Salute, and last of all, after the order ‘Remove Headdresses’, gave three cheers for HRH the Colonel.

The incomparable setting, the bearing and appearance of the troops, and the origin of the parade, all combined to exalt a most memorable occasion in the annals of the Regiment.

It is thirty-eight years since we have had the opportunity of doing honour to a new Colonel, and never has the Regiment in its long existence had so many battalions.

One old Grenadier officer present reported that the last time he paraded in the quadrangle was before Queen Victoria in the 3rd Battalion in 1885, before going to Suakin. For another, his last appearance there was with a torch as an Eton boy at the Jubilee of 1887. Both had sons on parade on 21st April.
It is a matter for justifiable pride to all those now serving to learn from the unanimous consent of a most critical and well-informed audience that in handling of arms, precision of movement, and steadiness on parade, the Regiment has never shown to greater advantage.

So smoothly was the whole ceremony carried out, that it is doubtful whether many of those present on Tuesday realised that the detachments only assembled on Sunday afternoon from five scattered counties in the United Kingdom, that they had never drilled together before Monday morning nor set foot in the quadrangle before Monday afternoon, that only eighteen inches clearance existed on either flank, and that the Band and Drums never had more than a few feet spare in which to manoeuvre.

Such a Regimental Reunion was both a delight and an inspiration, and for three days there was no corner of Victoria Barracks in which old friends were not meeting each other.

The contribution of the Training Battalion, upon whose shoulders so much fell, was as unwearying as it was successful; visitors were never given a more friendly welcome, and appreciation was no less sincere than their welcome.

Every want had been foreseen and an admirable dance was given on Monday night, to which, to the infinite delight of all present, Their Majesties and the Colonel paid a long visit after dinner. Both Her Majesty the Queen and HRH danced with WOs, NCOs and Guardsmen, and the Comrades received a special share of their gracious attention and of His Majesty’s.

At the conclusion of the parade Their Majesties greeted many of the guests, and afterwards all the officers and the RSM were presented.
Commanding Officers had the honour of being invited to luncheon with Their Majesties and later in the afternoon the troops were entertained in the Castle with a most admirable entertainment. The only expression of regret heard during the whole visit was that there were not present to see such a parade some of those highly placed authorities whose appreciation of value of tradition and discipline is so very different from ours.

In retrospect, two impressions stand out. One is the family atmosphere which invested the whole ceremony; a former Commanding Officer found among the company the Adjutant, the Quartermaster, the Machine-gun Officer and the RSM of the Battalion he took to France in 1914, and friends were on every side.

Finally, and outstanding beyond all the elements which contributed to so great a day was the unmeasured kindness of Their Majesties.
It may be doubted whether the Regiment or any other has ever been accorded such generosity and favour, and all Grenadiers, whilst tendering their respectful gratitude for so much consideration, will wish to record anew their duty and devotion to their Sovereign, to The Queen and to their new Colonel.

The Household Brigade Magazine - Summer 1942

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