1st Battalion Irish Guards have been presented their New Colours from His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge in Windsor Castle, ready to parade them in front of the Queen at her Birthday Parade, marking the beginning of her Platinum Jubilee weekend.
It would not be The Queen’s Birthday Parade without the Queen’s Colour, and on 2 June the ceremonial flag being Trooped through the ranks on Horse Guards Parade will be shinier and more splendid than ever, because it will be brand new.
The 1st Battalion Irish Guards received their new Colours from His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge in a sacred ceremony on the Quadrangle at Windsor Castle today (Tuesday 17 May 2022). It is these new Colours that will be centre stage for the Platinum Jubilee Trooping of the Colour Parades.
New Colours are traditionally presented every ten years, but the Irish Guards’ Old Colours date back to 2009. The delay in renewal was due partly to the pandemic, but mainly to the Irish Guards’ extensive operational commitments over recent years. They have been consistently deployed across the globe in a range of roles from counter poaching activities in Africa, to UN commitments in South Sudan, NATO commitments in the Middle East, specialist military training teams or military exercises alongside allies in America and Europe, and at the forefront of the COVID-19 support force in UK.
Now that these busy dual role soldiers are back covering ceremonial and public duties once more, the new Colours could be crafted and presented, and what more propitious time to receive them, than Platinum Jubilee year?
This afternoon in Windsor, the Irish Guards, along with the Band of the Irish Guards, and the Corps of Drums led by their Regimental Mascot Irish Wolfhound Turlough Mor, marched out of Victoria Barracks bearing their old Colours. They paraded through the town and into the Quadrangle at the heart of Windsor Castle.
It is such an honour to be on parade in Windsor Castle and receive our new Colours in front of our Royal Colonel on this Platinum Jubilee year. It’s been great preparation for the Troop to come and the excitement is certainly building in the Regiment. Lieutenant Charlie Bashall, Irish Guards
The Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, Lieutenant Colonel James Aldridge, called the parade to attention and gave the order to present arms in a General Salute. The old Colours were marched off parade, and His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge took up his position on the dais alongside the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, who is the Irish Guards’ Regimental Lieutenant Colonel; and the Irish Guards’ Regimental Adjutant, Major Niall Hall.
Four Side Drummers and a Bass Drummer then marched forward and used their drums to create a makeshift altar in front of the parade, such as regiments would form beside a battlefield when deployed at war. The new Colour Party moved forward, uncased the new Colours and placed them reverently on the drum pile, while the Band of the Irish Guards played traditional tunes. The Commanding Officer asked His Royal Highness Prince William, and the Chief of the General Staff, Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, to inspect the parade. The Duke accompanied by His Equerry Lieutenant Commander Rob Dixon, Royal Navy, and the Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel James Armitage, inspected the front rank; and the Chief of the General Staff accompanied by the Battalion Second-in-Command Major Tim Rogers, inspected the rear rank.
Once the inspection was complete, the Chaplain General The Reverend Michael Parker and The Reverend Deiniol Morgan, the Senior Chaplain of the Household Division, began the service of Consecration of the new Colours.
Two Ensigns Second Lieutenant Archie Taylor and Second Lieutenant Connor Meadows knelt beside the altar and the Officers for the new Colours, Lieutenant Charlie Bashall and Lieutenant Jaq North collected the new Colours from the Drum Pile and placed them in the Colour Pike in each Ensigns’ Colour Belt. His Royal Highness stepped forward to assist, touching the Colour with his hand as a final blessing.
The new Colours were handmade by expert craftsmen and women using centuries old techniques at Hobsons in London. They are made from heavy silk which is richly embroidered with gold and silver threads depicting heraldic symbols, mottos and battle honours.
His Royal Highness made a short speech, and then the Lone Piper played as the Ensigns slow marched the new Colours to their place at the heart of the regiment.
There is a rich superstition surrounding The Colours. Soldiers believe that once blessed and trooped through the lines they hold within their threads the souls of all those that died in battle. The Colour is always treated with extreme reverence.
There was a rousing three cheers for Her Majesty The Queen followed by another for HRH The Duke of Cambridge. Then the new Colours and all the Guardsmen, the Band and the Mascot, marched past and off parade.
It was an historic and happy day for the Regiment united as one family again. Tomorrow the Guardsmen return to rehearsals for their next momentous event, Trooping The Colour on Horse Guards Parade, where they will get to show the world their wonderful new ceremonial flag. Prince William will take the final Review of Trooping of the Colour, the Colonel’s Review, on 28 May, to check all is in order before the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Birthday Parade on the anniversary of Her Coronation.
The Old Colours will be “laid up” in the rafters of a chapel until, ultimately eaten by time, they will fall. While some ancient Colours are preserved in Museums, others that ‘have fallen’ are traditionally buried with full military honours, like the fallen heroes they represent.