Throughout the UK soldiers, both regular and reserve, have joined the nation in celebrating Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Gun salutes rang out across the land from Wales to Northern Ireland and from Scotland to London and beacons lit the Moray Coast in the north and the capitals of the devolved nations. And it continues as soldiers now wear with pride their Platinum Jubilee medals.
Canopies of trees have been established with troops planting trees in barracks and their local communities as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, and the Armed Forces were involved in a dazzling series of parades and pageants, all in recognition of Her Majesty’s 70 years of service.
Military music also played a major part, not just in ceremonial events but in the versatility of providing entertainment in many guises, with jazz on the steps of Hillsborough Castle in County Down and the Royal Welsh Band taking part in the beacon lighting ceremony in front of the Pierhead Building in Cardiff. Reservist musicians were involved in a concert held at Cardiff Castle with rehearsals attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as Prince George and Princess Charlotte on their first official visit to Wales. And military bands added a touch of flair to the Jubilee concert on 4 June with the magnificent backdrop of Buckingham Palace.
And for the young, the Army played its part in making memories that will last a lifetime. Army Cadets had a role alongside civic and military leaders and final rehearsals are underway for a Platinum Jubilee Youth Spectacular where hundreds of young Army Cadet pipers and dancers will perform at the newly completed St Ninians arena on the site of an old colliery in Fife in coming weeks.
Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee was also celebrated across the Commonwealth and in any area of the world where the British Army serves and trains.
In Colchester, a crowd of several thousand were in the town's Castle Park on 2 June to watch F (Sphinx) Battery, 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery fire a 42-gun Royal Salute. British Army Band Colchester gave a marching display for the public and soldiers taking part were presented with the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Medal by the Lord-Lieutenant of Essex.
On 6 June, dignitaries and local schoolchildren gathered with soldiers at Merville Barracks for the dedication of the Maroon Canopy, 16 purple birch trees planted at the barracks’ memorial garden as part of the Queen's Green Canopy. The number of trees and the colour of their leaves pays tribute to the maroon berets of the 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team and the airborne identity and history they represent.
Over 200 soldiers from 30 Signal Regiment exercised their Freedom of the Borough of Nuneaton and Bedworth on the twentieth anniversary of the honour being granted, proudly parading through the town on 2 June.
Over the last two years, soldiers from the 30 Signal Regiment have deployed on operations in Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq, Mali and the Persian Gulf. Many of these operations are ongoing regimental commitments. The regiment also includes Operational Reconnaissance Liaison Teams, extremely high readiness teams that deploy anywhere in the world to provide communications capability to military personnel.
Lieutenant Colonel Simon Smith, Commanding Officer 30 Signal Regiment, said, “To exercise the freedom of the Borough of Nuneaton and Bedworth is an honour and privilege. It is always special whenever we are allowed to conduct such parades but linking this with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations made it even more of an occasion.”
A Festival of Military Music took place in Cardiff Bay on 2 June with Reservists from 104 Regiment Royal Artillery providing the necessary boom from their 105mm light guns inside the Roald Dahl Plass to begin proceedings.
A jamboree of musical entertainment followed the 42-gun salute with a variety of bands and singers taking their place in the centre of the Welsh capital. The Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Welsh, the Band of the Prince of Wales, the Band and Drums of Gwent and Powys Army Cadet Force, plus the Brecon and Llandovery Male Voice Choir, all entertained the crowds.
Several dignitaries attended the event, including the First Minister for Wales Mark Drakeford, the Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, as well as the Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan and the Lord Mayor of Cardiff. The event concluded with a shortened version of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, featuring timely and rhythmic blasts from 104 Regiment’s four light guns.
Colonel Sion Walker, Deputy Commander 160th (Welsh) Brigade, said it was a unique event the Army in Wales was privileged to be part of. "What a great event this has been, this is a unique occasion because we’ve not fired a 42-gun salute here in Wales before. We're very proud to play our part in marking Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. You could see how much everyone enjoyed it, with cheering and applause from the large crowd. A very special day indeed."
On 2 June, more than 1,400 soldiers and 250 horses from the Army’s Household Division participated in the Trooping of the Colour in front of thousands of spectators on Horse Guards Parade and the Queen Victoria Memorial.
The Queen's Birthday Parade is the epitome of ceremonial precision and pageantry and swords, medals, buttons and breastplates shone while horses and soldiers carried out complex battlefield drill manoeuvres to a spectacular, specially composed programme of music. This year the honour to Troop their Colour fell to the Irish Guards who received their new Colours from His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge at Windsor Castle on 17 May.
The Irish Guards are the only Guards Regiment permitted to have their mascot lead them on parade. During Trooping of the Colour, Irish Wolfhound Turlough Mor, accompanied by Drummer Adam Walsh, led the Band of the Irish Guards, the Drums and Pipes and the Irish Guards from Wellington Barracks down The Mall and onto Horse Guards Parade.
The Queen’s Birthday Parade is the Household Division’s special opportunity to wish Her Majesty a happy birthday and illustrate all that is important about soldiering: discipline, detail, teamwork, commitment and endurance.
On 5 June, a spectacular Jubilee pageant concluded the celebrations with thousands of performers from the UK and across the world taking part and the Armed Forces proudly leading the procession after the Gold State Coach.
All in all, it was a weekend of memories that our troops and nation will treasure as we say Thank You, Ma’am, to Her Majesty for her service and dedication to us all.