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Duke of Kent attends final parade as Colonel of Scots Guards

The 88-year-old royal was appointed to the position in 1974, after nearly two decades of military service.

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The Duke of Kent and Scots Guards

The Duke of Kent was cheered and applauded by troops as he attended his final Black Sunday parade as Colonel of the Scots Guards, handing over the role to the Duke of Edinburgh after 50 years of service.

Edward, Duke of Kent, was appointed to the position in 1974 after nearly two decades of military service, starting his career as a Second Lieutenant with the Royal Scots Greys in 1955.

The 88-year-old member of the royal family – who officially relinquished the title after the event concluded on Sunday afternoon – had earlier paid tribute to the “bravery, selfless courage and devotion to duty” of the Scots Guards.

The duke, who was a cousin of the late Queen, attended a morning service at the Guards Chapel in central London to begin Black Sunday, the regiment’s annual day of remembrance for its fallen servicemen and their families.

The Duke of Kent watches the march past outside the Royal Military Chapel (The Guards’ Chapel) in Westminster, London
The Duke of Kent watched the march past outside the Royal Military Chapel in Westminster, London (Victoria Jones/PA)

The service was attended by both active members of the Scots Guards, wearing the regiment’s distinctive red tunic, and veteran Guardsmen.

A procession made up of the Scots Guards band, pipes and serving troops then marched from the chapel to the Guards Memorial, which is dedicated to members of the Guards Division who died in both world wars and conflicts since.

They were flanked by dozens of veteran Guardsmen, many wearing medals from their service.

The Duke of Kent takes part in the Scots Guards’ Black Sunday Parade at The Guards Memorial in Westminster, London
The Duke of Kent officially relinquished the title after the event concluded on Sunday (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Scots Guards are one of the five Regiments of Foot Guards within the British Army’s Household Division – alongside the Irish, Welsh, Grenadier and Coldstream Guards – who carry out ceremonial duties such as taking part in major state events in support of the monarch.

When not protecting the King or participating in Trooping the Colour, the Guardsmen are also fighting soldiers who are deployed on operations or training exercises around the world.

The duke attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the war memorial which lasted about half-an-hour and was watched by hundreds of members of the public from St James’s Park.

Afterwards, he took the salute as Guardsmen and veterans marched past him to a performance of The Colonel, a new composition by Pipe Major John Mitchell written as a tribute to the former colonel.

The Duke of Kent is applauded as he leaves the Scots Guards’ Black Sunday Parade
The 88-year-old royal was applauded as he left the Black Sunday parade (Victoria Jones/PA)

Back in barracks, the duke informally met soldiers and their families, and was presented with a framed pipe banner.

On handing over the colonelcy, the duke said: “Serving as Colonel of the Scots Guards since 1974, the longest anyone has spent in this role, has been a true honour and one which will forever fill me with great joy.

“Through those years, I have seen the work of the Scots Guards during peacetime and war and witnessed their bravery, selfless courage and devotion to duty.

“To my fellow Scots Guardsmen, I am immensely proud to have served you all. I am delighted that His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will continue to champion all that you do and work towards preserving your great legacy.”

Military veterans take part in the Scots Guards’ Black Sunday Parade
Military veterans also took part in the event (Victoria Jones/PA)

As the duke departed, his route was lined with serving Guardsmen from various companies, the regiment’s band and association veterans who cheered loudly and applauded to a performance of the Scots Guards’ regimental march Highland Laddie.

Regimental Lieutenant Colonel James Leask praised the duke’s long tenure, saying he was able to offer “wisdom and perspective” as well as being a “constant in a rapidly changing world”.

The duke’s second-in-command said of his conversations with the former colonel: “He could offer a little bit of wisdom to tell me how we have tackled (a given) problem in the past.”

He added that the duke was an “important part” of the “regimental mental system” which was based in a “long history of tradition, ethos (and) culture”.

The Duke of Kent
The Duke of Kent said serving as Colonel of the Scots Guards had been ‘a true honour’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

Formed as King Charles I’s personal bodyguard in 1642, the regiment has since played key roles in major conflicts around the world from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, both world wars, the Falklands War and deployments to Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who is the regiment’s 27th colonel, praised his predecessor’s “tireless and passionate” service.

He said: “The Duke of Kent has been an extraordinary colonel of the Scots Guards. Quite apart from his depth of knowledge and keen understanding of the regiment and all those who serve, past and present, he has been a tireless and passionate advocate.

“It is a distinct honour to be asked and entrusted by His Majesty to serve as the next colonel. However, I accept with a degree of trepidation as I will undoubtedly be measured against the formidable record and reputation of my predecessor. I can only promise to do my best.”

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