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No 9 and No 12 Company The Irish Guards receive New Colours from His Majesty The King

King Charles III has today presented New Colours (ceremonial flags embodying a regiment) to the Irish Guards, to be carried in the Trooping of the Colour at His Majesty’s official Birthday Parade in London on Saturday 15 June.

Present on parade were The King, in the frock coat of an Army Field Marshal and the Regimental Lieutenant Colonel of the Irish Guards, Major General Sir Christopher Ghika KCVO, CBE.

The Colours, comprising a Regimental Colour and the King’s Colour, are the heart of a regiment, adorned with its emblems and battle honours. They are a part of the Irish Guards’ legacy, representing those that have fought and died for the Regiment.

Originally used as rallying points for troops on the battlefield, they are not just regal artworks. To this day they accompany soldiers on operations and, more visibly, on Ceremonial Duties. Before active duty, Colours are consecrated in a ceremony of prayers and blessings, held today for the Irish Guards in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle.

The Band of the Irish Guards, led by Regimental Mascot, an Irish wolfhound named Turlough Mor after an ancient High King of Ireland but affectionately known as Seamus, marched the troops into the world’s oldest occupied castle in front of 200 friends and family members. The Old Colours were marched off parade and the New Colours were laid on a drum stack altar. This emulates the makeshift battlefield ceremonies performed in historical conflicts before marching to meet the enemy. 

The King’s arrival was heralded by the National Anthem and a Royal Salute from the Guardsmen and Officers on parade, who were then inspected. The Chaplain General then consecrated the Colours with a blessing, extended to all those that will bear and serve under them. The King then presented the Colours to two junior officers – Lieutenants Harry Winterbottom and Monty Badger, while the parade was commanded by Major Richard Trant, Officer Commanding Number 9 Company Irish Guards.

Addressing the parade, The King said:

“It has been a remarkable eighty-four years since my grandfather, King George VI, presented new Colours to the Second Battalion Irish Guards in Wellington Barracks during the opening months of the Second World War.  

“After that terrible War, whose signal anniversaries we are in the midst of commemorating, the Second Battalion was placed in suspended animation but, I am delighted to say, has been reinstated.  Every guardsman standing here today is thus the Heir and Successor to the great legacy, the historic customs, and fine traditions of your forebears within the Battalion”.

His Majesty praised the Irish Guards’ recent achievements including their vital work to counter terrorism in Iraq, bolstering security across Africa by providing high-quality training teams to work with local forces, and at home, playing an indispensable role in assisting the civil authorities during the Covid pandemic. Last year The King visited them during their training of Ukrainian forces to enable them to defend their homeland.

Wishing them well, His Majesty said: “In this ever-changing world, it is no exaggeration to say that the whole Regiment finds itself occupying a central role in Defence’s contribution to the myriad challenges which societies must face.  In all of this, you bring to your duty a blend of professionalism, courage and humour which has always marked out Irish Guardsmen.”

Following the traditional ‘three cheers’ for The King and a second Royal Salute, Numbers 9 and 12 Companies marched back to Victoria Barracks with the New Colours paraded in procession for the first time.

Cementing the Colour’s place in the Household Division’s heraldry, Lt Winterbottom will carry the King’s Colour during the Trooping the Colour parade in London on Saturday 15 June. After weeks of meticulous training and rehearsals, the Presentation of the New Colours represents Number 9 and 12 Companies’ final preparations for this annual spectacular.

The King’s Colour is made of silk damask, with gold-thread embroidery and fringe and the star of the most illustrious order of St Patrick at its centre. The Regimental Colour, used more routinely for duties such as the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, is embroidered with the number 12, signalling 11 forebear Company badges, and a flaming castle. The Regiment has been awarded 52 Honorary Distinctions (commonly known as Battle Honours), 21 of which appear on the Colours.  

The King’s relationship with the Guards takes on special significance as he is the Colonel in Chief of the seven Guards regiments, seeing them regularly through their role in guarding the Royal Palaces. Recognisable on ceremonial operations by the St Patrick’s blue of the plumes in their bearskins, the Irish Guards traditionally comprise troops from the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Liverpool and Birmingham, as well as Fiji, the wider Commonwealth and the rest of the UK.

The Irish Guards are dual-role soldiers that first and foremost demand excellence as infantrymen, serving in various major conflicts including both World Wars and in Afghanistan since they were raised by Queen Victoria in 1900. In 2024, the Irish Guards have deployed on a range of Security Force Assistance tasks and multinational exercises from the Horn of Africa to the swamps of Louisiana, strengthening capabilities and relationships with allied nations and partner forces.

In March 2023, Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales took over the role of Colonel of the Irish Guards from The Prince of Wales.

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