The Queen, who turned 86 on Saturday, was born on 21 April 1926, a date which also marks the 70th anniversary of her being made Colonel of the Grenadier Guards when she was 16.
This was her first military appointment in her long history with the Armed Forces, and the first time a woman had been made a Colonel.
To mark this anniversary, the Queen’s senior regiment of Foot Guards, currently deployed to Afghanistan, said thank you and congratulations to Her Majesty at a small parade at Forward Operating Base Price in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.
The parade was conducted in the full heat of the Afghan sun and was a demonstration of the extremely close link between the monarch and the regiment.
The Queen held the title of Colonel of the Regiment for ten years, until her accession to the throne, when she became the regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief, a post she has held for 60 years.
With the men of the Grenadier Guards swapping their bearskins and tunics for helmets and body armour until later in the year, they will miss Trooping the Colour in this the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year.
Despite this, the regiment is in high spirits as they take over the challenge of continuing the process of the transition of security lead to the Afghan security forces.
The Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, Lieutenant Colonel James Bowder, said:
I am extremely honoured to be in a position to give mine and the regiment’s heartfelt and sincere thanks to Her Majesty for having been our Colonel and then Colonel-in-Chief for the last 70 years.
We will do all we can to live up to the values of respect, courage and dignity that she clearly embodies as we go about our difficult but important role in Nahr-e Saraj.
Sergeant Richard Archer, 2 Section Commander, said:
To be in the Queen’s Company is a fantastic privilege; there’s intense rivalry between the companies, but this is the one everyone wants to be a part of due to the honour of having the Queen as our figurehead.
I’d like to congratulate Her Majesty on this fantastic achievement and hopefully her association with the Queen’s Company will continue for many years to come.
The Grenadier Guards is an infantry regiment of the British Army. It is the most senior regiment of the Guards Division and, as such, is the most senior regiment of infantry.
The Grenadier Guards, as the Royal Regiment of Foot Guards, was formed in 1656 by King Charles II who was then in exile in Bruges, Flanders.
It was known as the First Guards, later becoming the First Regiment of Foot Guards, and now bears the title the First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards in honour of the defeat of the Grenadiers of the French Imperial Guard at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
The 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards recently deployed to Afghanistan for six months as part of 12 Mechanized Brigade.