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Fraternité on parade for officer cadets

There was a distinct Gallic tone to a passing out parade for Officer Cadets at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst today.

The Sovereign's Parade took place just four days after the history-making events in London and Paris that celebrated the 120th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale. 

The honour of representing His Majesty King Charles III was taken by France’s Chef d'état-major de l'armée de terre, (CEMAT), the French Army’s Chief of Army Staff, Général Pierre Schill.

135 Officer Cadets of the Senior Division passed out from the academy during the parade. But in time-honoured tradition they will have to wait a few more hours until the stroke of midnight when they can truly call themselves commissioned Army officers and celebrate with friends and family at the Commissioning Ball.

As well as those passing out into the British Army, there were 26 international Officer Cadets from 19 countries, including Officer Cadet Princess Owowoh, the first ever female officer cadet from Nigeria to commission at Sandhurst.

Escorted by Major General Zac Stenning, the Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Général Pierre Schill inspected the ranks of those commissioning in the Senior Division as the Band of the Scots Guards struck up a medley of tunes.

The general stopped to speak to several of the Officer Cadets.

During his address to the Academy and friends, families and guests packing the stands, Général Pierre Schill said:

“You are about to embark on an adventure which may be an adventure of a lifetime. Officer Cadets, I look at you and see selfless young men and women who have chosen to serve their country and if necessary, at the risk of their lives for their country.

"For your fellow citizens, you represent the very best of the youth of the United Kingdom or of your native country’s youth.”

The Général added:

“You are embracing a military career as war is gathering back at the doors of our continent."

With this week's Entente Cordiale anniversary celebrations in mind, the Général said:

“The overwhelming emotion that serves me is deeply rooted in our past. It is shared by those that know the history of our two peoples.

"It is a history marked by battles and wars, reconciliations, alliances, common fights, and shared victories.

"Having been face to face for long and often shoulder to shoulder, our nations and armed forces understand each other and know how fortunate they are to be ready to face the challenges of tomorrow.”   

Général Pierre Schill’s final duty was to present the awards for the top performing Officer Cadets of Commissioning Course 232:

  • Sword of Honour: Senior Under Officer Webb who commissions into the Parachute Regiment. Considered by the Commandant to be the best Officer Cadet.
  • The Queen’s Medal: Officer Cadet Stratton-Morris who commissions into The Royal Irish Regiment. Top military, academic and practical scores.
  • International Sword: Junior Under Officer Tang, from Singapore. Considered by the Commandant to be the best International Officer Cadet.
  • The International Award: Officer Cadet Jang, from South Korea. The top international cadet in military, academic and practical scores.

As tradition dictates, the parade culminated with the Officer Cadets commissioning marching up the steps and through the grand doors to Old College to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

The last cadet to march was the Sword of Honour recipient, Senior Under Officer Webb, followed by the Academy Adjutant, Major Andrew Dunlop, riding up the steps on his mount, Sovereign Shadow.