The Mercian Regiment has been presented with new Colours by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
More than 4,000 people packed into Worcester’s Sixways Stadium yesterday, 6 June, to herald the arrival of the new Colours which were presented by the regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief Prince Charles.
Colours are only presented every 25 years, and this was the first time that all 4 battalions of the regiment were on parade at the same time to receive new Colours.
Four-hundred Mercian soldiers marched onto the pitch while their antecedent Colours were marched off for the final time.
A service of consecration then took place, led by the Chaplain-General to Her Majesty’s Land Forces, the Reverend Jonathan Woodhouse, who was assisted by other senior military clergy.
In a speech delivered at the end of the service, Prince Charles said:
Today symbolises a special and historic moment for the whole Mercian regimental family – something which serving soldiers, veterans, family and friends can all feel equally proud to be part of.
As your Colonel-in-Chief, I am also endlessly proud of you all and especially pleased to share this day with you. What the regiment has become is in no small part fashioned by its distinguished history and the famous heritage of its antecedent regiments.
Prince Charles went on to talk about the high standards maintained by the regiment. He said:
I have known many of these regiments over the years and I am certain they would recognise only too well the qualities of service, selflessness and sacrifice which are so clearly at the core of the Mercian Regiment today. The Colours that I have just presented continue to represent the heritage, fighting spirit and soul of this fine regiment.
What strikes me today is the strength of the bond that binds you together as a regiment and with the presentation of your new Colours. I wish you all, as part of the Mercian regimental family, every possible success and good fortune for the future.
Major General Andrew Sharpe, who stepped down as Colonel of the Mercian Regiment during the parade and handed over to Brigadier Andrew Williams, added:
As the outgoing Colonel of the Mercian Regiment, and having lived in the regiment for my whole life and served for 34 years, I feel enormously proud to be involved as the regiment receives its new and first Colours as the Mercian Regiment – this really represents our coming-of-age after such a hard-fought and demanding start.
It is a historic and special day for all our regimental family and we are honoured that His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has been able to present the Colours.
Occasions such as this allow us to pause and remind ourselves again of our heritage, the sacrifice of so many and the steadfastness of our soldiers, all of which serves to make the Mercian Regiment so unique.
As part of his visit to the stadium the Prince of Wales also met serving and former soldiers and their families, including 93-year-old retired brigadier Michael Dauncey DSO, one of the oldest surviving Horsa glider pilots who flew into Arnhem as part of Operation Market Garden on 17 September 1944. Despite being blinded in one eye during ensuing fighting he fought on and was later awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his bravery.
The Prince also inspected the regiment and took the salute from a dais at the stadium as the soldiers marched off. The massed band and drums were provided by the Band of the Royal Logistic Corps, and the Mercian regimental mascot, Lance Corporal Derby XXIX, a pedigree Swaledale ram, also attended the parade.