The red tunics of the Foot Guards were on display for the first time this year as the incremental companies of the Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards and Scots Guards passed their inspections by Major General Chris Ghika CBE, ahead of a busy summer of ceremonial activity.
It may not be summer yet, but eagle-eyed spectators may have spotted the first sign of the ceremonial season to come as the three incremental companies of the Foot Guards were inspected at Wellington Barracks in their full Summer Guard Order. In late February, Major General Chris Ghika CBE conducted a thorough inspection of F Company's dress and drill to ensure their adherence to the highest British Army ceremonial standards whilst spectators watching through the Wellington Barracks fence will have spotted Nijmegan Company and 7 Company on a sunny morning at the start of March.
These annual inspections take place to ensure that all Units participating in ceremonial activity this summer are trained and prepared as audiences of millions observe them at work, with the Irish Guards, King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment also under inspection. For some of the Guardsmen this will have been a nerve-wracking experience and a culmination of many nights of hard work 'bulling' boots and polishing brass, but for others such as the Guardsmen of F Company, although still a test of their skills, the high standards they have maintained since they led the last Trooping the Colour in June 2021 will have provided them with confidence in their abilities and uniform.
As the Major General commanding the Household Division made his way down the precisely dressed ranks of the Foot Guards he inspected every element of each Guardsman, from the mirror shine on their gleaming ammo boots to the sparkle of a polished brass button and finally onto the fit and grooming of the distinctive bearskins. All of this is to ensure that when the Guardsmen march out onto the Buckingham Palace forecourt in front of thousands at each Changing of the Guard or to the hundreds of thousands and more watching the Trooping of the Colour, they proudly display the exacting standards of the Foot Guards at all times; embodying the traditions and reputation of the British Army.
Accompanying the inspection with music and also under the Major General’s scrutiny were some of the musicians of the Massed Bands of the Household Division, professional musicians who can be seen supporting the Foot Guards at every Changing of the Guard and other ceremonial events. During the inspection of F Company, members of the Scots Guards Pipes and Drums could also be seen on parade; soldiers from the Battalion who have chosen to develop their musical skills alongside their soldiering. After attending Infantry Training Camp in Catterick, each of the soldiers will have attended the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming to further develop their skills, whilst back in Battalion they will not only conduct Infantry training alongside the other companies but continue to receive instruction from the Pipe Major and Drum Major, a fine example of the flexible dual-role capabilities of each Guardsmen.
The term 'incremental companies' denotes the three companies of Foot Guards who were formed from the 2nd Battalions of each respective Foot Guards Regiment, this allows the 2nd Battalions to be placed in suspension, able to be reactivated if needed. These incremental companies maintain the historic traditions of each of their battalions, and often represent the regiment at ceremonial events such as Changing of the Guard and Trooping the Colour. Although separate from the operational battalions, Guardsmen will often spend a period of time in the incremental companies after they have completed their Combat Infantryman's Course to continue their training and instil the sense of pride, discipline and attention to detail present in every Guardsman. As part of the Integrated Review in 2021, the Army set out it's Future Soldier transformation plan which will see two more incremental companies formed from the Welsh and Irish Guards to support State Ceremonial Public Duties.
The Foot Guards will join the hundreds of troops on parade for the Queen's Birthday Parade on Thursday 2 June to mark the start of a weekend of Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee celebrations.