Royal Navy sailors have performed the Changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace for the first time in the ceremony’s 357-year history. Eighty-six sailors from 45 Royal Navy ships and establishments spent a month preparing ahead of the first ceremony on Sunday morning.
Representing many branches of the Royal Navy, the Senior Service’s traditional navy blue uniforms have replaced for a short period, the distinctive red tunics worn by the Foot Guards. Starting at Buckingham Palace in full show of the general public, they are also set to Mount Royal Guards at Windsor Castle, The Tower of London and St James’s Palace over the next few weeks.
“The last time the Navy had an operational role guarding the Queen was with Elizabeth the first, when Sir Walter Raleigh was appointed Captain of the Queen’s Guard in 1587,” said Captain of the Queen’s Guard, Lieutenant Commander Steve Elliot and Raleigh’s successor in the role. “So it goes back a little while.”
It has been reported by Grant Tucker of The Times Diarythat the Queen was almost shot by one of her guardsman during one of her night time walks around Buckingham Palace.
Although Tucker does not reveal the name of the former guardsman who told him the story or when it happened he does reveal that the soldier in question was patrolling the grounds at around 3am when he spotted a figure in the darkness. Believing an intruder was on the ground he raised his rifle and demanded the figure identify themselves.
To his shock he heard the monarch’s voice reply that it was her to which Tucker claims the soldier said, “Bloody hell, Your Majesty, I nearly shot you!” It seems Her Majesty saw the funny side of things because Tucker says that the Queen joked that she would ring through next time she felt like a night time walk so that he wouldn’t have to shoot her.
The Queen’s Flight was formed in 1952 upon the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Up to that point it had naturally been known as the King’s Flight under the reign of her father, King George VI. Responsible for transporting the Royal family primarily around the UK the flight operated a number of aircraft until 1995 when the unit was merged with the RAF’s No.32 Squadron which from then on became known as No.32 (The Royal) Squadron operating out of RAF Northolt, London.
Westland Whirlwind HCC.12
The Westland Whirlwinds operated by the Queen’s Flight were designated HCC.12 and were replaced by the Wessex.
Westland Wessex HCC.4
The Westland Wessex helicopters received the designation HCC.4 and were operated until 1998 when they were replaced by privately leased Sikorsky S-76 aircraft.