In December 2022, Her Majesty The Queen Consort was appointed Colonel of the Grenadier Guards. At the end of January, Her Majesty visited the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards at their barracks in Aldershot for the first time since her appointment to the role and was warmly welcomed into the Regimental family.

Her Majesty The Queen Consort talks to Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Johnston (left) and Major General James Bowden (right).
In December 2022, Her Majesty The Queen Consort was appointed Colonel of the Grenadier Guards. Image: Crown Copyright 2023 MOD – SSgt Dek Traylor

In the Officers’ Mess, The Commanding Officer briefed the new Royal Colonel, The Queen Consort, on his battalion’s recent operational activities, and forthcoming events.

Throughout the last five years, the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards has been employed across a plethora of military tasks. In 2018 the Battalion was deployed simultaneously to Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan and returned in time to Troop the Colour at HM The Queen’s Birthday Parade in 2019.

More recently, Grenadiers have conducted major training exercises in Belize, the Falkland Islands, Kenya and Thailand.

The Battalion is now part of the 4th Light Brigade Combat Team and currently has elements deployed to Iraq to provide protection to the international coalition deployed under Operation Inherent Resolve. Members of The King’s Company (Grenadier Guards) returned briefly from this deployment in September 2022 to provide the Bearer Party for the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Looking ahead into 2023, the Battalion is very much looking forward to supporting state ceremonial duties in the coming months and undertaking a major training exercise in Kenya in the Autumn.

After the briefing, Her Majesty was introduced to the officers at a small reception where the Commanding Officer presented a champagne toast to celebrate Her Majesty’s appointment.

Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Johnston, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards said: “The Grenadier Guards are deeply honoured by the appointment of Her Majesty The Queen Consort as our Colonel. We are delighted to welcome Her Majesty into our Regimental family.”

A group photograph to mark the historic moment was taken on the steps of the Officers’ Mess, mirroring one taken with HRH The Duke of Edinburgh when he was Colonel Grenadier Guards.

Later, in the Sergeants’ Mess, The Adjutant, Captain Sam Macdonald-Smith, invited Her Majesty to present a Long Service and Good Conduct medal to Sergeant Scott Howcroft. She presented a medal bar marking an additional ten years exemplary service to Colour Sergeant Colin Fiddy’s existing Long Service and Good Conduct medal.

Her Majesty then presented operational service medals to ten officers and soldiers from the battalion in honour of their deployment in Iraq.

After what was a proud occasion for all the recipients, Her Majesty met their families and heard about the many ways they had come together to support each other while their loved ones were away on operational duties.

The 1st Regiment of Foot Guards, later known as The Grenadier Guards, has served the Sovereign and the Nation in an unbroken thread for more than three and a half centuries. Grenadier Guardsmen have fought in every major conflict and the regiment has been awarded 78 Honorary Distinctions (commonly known as Battle Honours), forty-five of which appear on their Regimental Colours (flags).

In their ceremonial role Grenadier Guardsmen are recognised on parade by a white plume on the left side of their bearskin caps; their uniforms bearing symbols of a grenade ‘fired proper’ and buttons arranged singly. Their regimental motto is: Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense – the motto of the Order of the Garter – “Shame on him who thinks evil of it”.