The arrival of HRH The Duke of Cambridge, accompanied by The Duchess of Cambridge, made today’s 1st Battalion Irish Guards’ St. Patrick's Day Parade a real family affair. The Duke is Colonel of the Irish Guards, and the parade is an opportunity for all Irish Guards, serving, retired, or in the case of the Mini Mick cadets, aspirational, to come together in celebration and honour their Regimental and cultural traditions.
Today’s parade marks the end of ceremonial duties in London and in Windsor and the start of a busy overseas operational training period for this dual-roled infantry battalion. In preparation for their new role, the Irish Guards deployed to Kenya on a two-month live firing exercise towards the end of 2018. Not everyone could make the annual event, however. The Irish Guards currently have troops deployed in Uganda, Jordan and Kenya as they prepare to go onto a high readiness footing from the beginning of April. Number One Company Irish Guards is preparing to deploy to Georgia while the rest of the Battalion will be preparing to deploy on operations to South Sudan and Iraq later in the year.
As the crowds watched, 350 soldiers marched onto the Parade Square at Cavalry Barracks led by their mascot, the Irish Wolfhound Domhnall, and the Band of the Irish Guards played traditional Irish airs. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge presented the shamrock in wicker baskets to Officers and Warrant Officers, who in turn issued it along the ranks so that by the end of the parade every soldier was wearing sprigs of the lucky three leafed plant. The parade concluded with a march-past where His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge took the salute.