A Scottish infantry unit will support the funeral of His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, this Saturday.
The Catterick-based 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS), known as the Highlanders, are set to take a key role in proceedings in and around Windsor Castle.
Music will be one of the ways they will mark the occasion, with Pipe Major Colour Sergeant Grant, 33, set to play at St. George’s Chapel.
Colour Sergeant Grant, of Braemar, Aberdeenshire, said: “I will be thinking of HM The Queen during this difficult time for her. I am looking forward to being involved because it is such an honour for me to perform this role”.
“I know that my village will be feeling proud that a local lad who played at the Highland Gathering is playing at his funeral”.
The key role played by the Highlanders is enabled by the special relationship the Battalion shared with the late Prince.
I know that my village will be feeling proud that a local lad who played at the Highland Gathering is playing at his funeral Pipe Major Grant
This stretches back to the Duke’s school days. He was educated at Gordonstoun in Moray, in the heart of the unit’s regimental area.
After leaving the Royal Navy, the Prince became Colonel-in-Chief of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders in 1953, before a series of amalgamations saw the eventual creation of the SCOTS in 2006.
As this unit became the senior line infantry regiment of the British Army, HM The Queen took on the role of Colonel-in-Chief, with HRH serving as Royal Colonel to 4 SCOTS.
He is fondly remembered by many troops, not only those who currently form part of the modern SCOTS, but also its antecedent units.
At one parade in Edinburgh’s Redford Barracks, he ignored the plan that dictated that he was to only speak to selected soldiers and instead proceeded to talk with everyone, leaving a lasting impression on all present.
WO2 Smith, 4 SCOTS Operations Warrant Officer, said: “I recall him having a very warming and down to earth manner which made me feel totally at ease.
“He asked me where I came from and, before I answered, I thought I had better mention the closest city to me as Peterhead is not very well known. I told him that it was a small town north of Aberdeen called Peterhead. He smiled and said, ‘Ah the Bloo-toon, a nice fishing town’. I was totally taken aback that not only did he know where Peterhead was but also its nickname.”
The Prince is also fondly remembered by another serviceman who met him – East Ayrshire native Lance Corporal Martin, who encountered HRH during an Operation HERRICK (Afghanistan) medals parade.
And dad-of-one Lance Corporal Martin, who has also served in Ukraine, has another connection with the royal; he was honoured with Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze and Silver Awards for community work and expeditions.
Another 4 SCOTS soldier previously involved in the DofE scheme is Highlander McGowan, who was commended for his role as a driver during a recent tour of Afghanistan.
Reflecting on the DofE’s Award, Highlander McGowan, from Glasgow, said: “I did voluntary work in a care home, and learned the guitar and drums. I learned navigation on hillwalking trips to Bute and Loch Lomond.”
It is that very value of selfless commitment that has served the Battalion well since its inception 15 years ago.
4 SCOTS have assisted in a range of tasks to support civil authorities, from helping the Environment Agency during Storm Dennis to providing humanitarian aid to those affected by Hurricane Iota in Belize.
More recently, the unit have been at the forefront of the British Army’s support to the NHS in the fight against Covid-19, while personnel will deploy on Operation ORBITAL (Ukraine) to help train the Ukrainian Armed Forces later this year.
That same spirit of service is perhaps the most powerful link between war hero HRH Prince Philip and his friends in Scotland’s infantry.