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Cavalry to Coronation: rehearsals pick up the pace

For those soldiers taking part in the Coronation of Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort on 6 May, working alongside so many other armoured and infantry units as well as partner nations from across the world has provided them with a unique opportunity.

At the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, 1,546 soldiers who usually work in everything from logistics to engineering and medical services to Cavalry, have come together to rehearse as part of the Coronation procession. Joining them are 604 soldiers from 40 commonwealth countries.

Lieutenant (Lt) Sophie Hare from Norfolk, aged 24, is a Troop Leader in A Squadron, Light Dragoons. The Dragoons is a light cavalry regiment in the Adaptive Force that carries out many roles, from scouting for information to engaging enemy targets and using the Jackal 2 fighting vehicles and other tactical, lightweight equipment to deploy anywhere in the world.

Lt Hare, whose family comes from Norfolk, will be one of three officers leading the contingent of 24 personnel from the Light Dragoons, alongside her Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Jon Harris and Second-in-Command Major Luke Dodington, a Guidon Party and her troopers.

She only arrived back in the UK last week from Kenya, where the Regiment has been part of the Coldstream Guards Battlegroup on Exercise Askari Storm, working in an Observer-Mentor role which provides feedback, advice and coaching to the troops on exercise. So for Sophie, it’s been a whirlwind, but her previous drill skills are not easily forgotten.

It’s a privilege to be involved in the Coronation. I will be thinking of our regimental forebearers and striving to meet our regimental motto: ‘Merebimur’ (We shall be worthy) Lieutenant Sophie Hare, Light Dragoons

Sophie explained, “We had a week of rehearsals within the Regiment practicing the static drill and arms drill for the troopers. For me having only just arrived back, it’s been quite a tight turnaround, but the muscle memory soon comes back. The rehearsals at Sandhurst have been very thorough, so we have all been able to come along with a base knowledge and over the next few days we will perfect our drill.”

Although of course the Coronation will be a huge career highlight, Sophie has already visited the Light Dragoons sister regiment ‘4e Régiment de Chasseurs’ and taken part in Royal Armoured Corps Nordic skiing championships in France and a Nordic skiing training camp in Norway.

“I had always wanted an active career and knew the Army would have its challenges because both my father and both grandfathers had served. I had already started the application when I was at university and joined up straight after graduating. I am so glad I did, it’s been filled with amazing challenges that have really pushed me out of my comfort zone. And it’s a privilege to be involved in the Coronation. I will be thinking of our regimental forebears and striving to meet our regimental motto: ‘Merebimur’ (We shall be worthy).”

And there’s no change of pace once the Coronation has taken place. The Regiment will immediately be deploying to Estonia for a month on a multinational NATO exercise Spring Storm, which tests the integration between NATO troops and the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), strengthening their interoperability and responsiveness. The Light Dragoons will take on the role of the enemy force this time.

For Lt Hare, with the sounds of the procession not even a distant echo, it will be back to business as usual. “It’s the nature of the Army, to be ready for the very next thing.”

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