He was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards in 1980. During his time as a platoon commander he saw active service on peacekeeping operations in Northern Ireland and later in the Falklands War of 1982. In 1983, he left the Regular Army. In honour of his service in the Falklands and to commemorate friends and colleagues lost and injured in that conflict, the key bearer for the Installation Ceremony will be Lt Lawrence, Scots Guards, son of the well-known author Robert Lawrence MC whose book about the conflict was made into the BBC film Tumbledown.
In 1993, he re-joined the Army as a Reservist. He went on to assume command of the Media Operations Group in 2004, having completed his period of mobilised service on Operation TELIC in Iraq. In 2010, he was awarded an OBE for influencing communications doctrine during Ops TELIC & HERRICK. He served as Deputy Commander, 3rd UK Division and is Honorary Colonel of 5th Battalion Military Intelligence. On 24 June 2019, he assumed office as The Governor of Edinburgh Castle and will now be installed as Governor on the second anniversary of his appointment. Soldiers from many of the units resident in Scotland will line the route of his Installation Ceremony to highlight his relationship to them.
In addition to his Army Reserve service General Alastair is the Royal, Constitutional, and Religious Commentator for Sky News and has covered occasions including Royal Weddings, The Queen’s Jubilees, and the funerals of the Queen Mother, Diana, Princess of Wales and most recently, the Duke of Edinburgh. He was also granted the privilege of a unique televised conversation with The Queen for his BBC1 film Coronation about the crowns and crowning of 1953.
As commentator and historian, he contributes to ABC News and presents documentaries for ABC America, Sky TV, and PBS. He has worked with many drama productions as historical advisor, such as Downton Abbey, The Young Victoria, and The King’s Speech, Belgravia and The English Game with Julian Fellowes. He presents and makes documentaries including Manners of Downton Abbey and Days of Majesty.
General Alastair has also written many books, including Days of Majesty, Keepers of the Kingdom and The Oldest (exploring the oldest things in Britain). The Queen’s Birthday Parade was published recently, with a foreword by The Duke of Edinburgh.
In 2004 he was appointed an Equerry to Their Royal Highnesses the Earl and Countess of Forfar. This is a part-time role to support the Queen’s youngest son and his wife in performing their Royal Duties for The Crown in the UK and overseas.
In 2019 General Alastair was delighted to be appointed as an Army Race Advocate. In this role he has the pleasure to champion the great work undertaken by the Army BAME network in pursuit of improving the lived experience of all members of the British Army. He is also a well-known advocate of LBGTQ equality and rights.
General Alastair has been able to combine a high profile and busy international media career with his Army Reserve Service. His rank of Major General and significant role as the Governor of Edinburgh Castle reflects the importance placed on those members of the Army Reserve as part of the British Army. Their vital contribution to the capability of the Army is recognised each year by Army Reserve Day which forms part of Armed Forces Week.