On Sunday 18 June 18 a company of 85 personnel from the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI) and 35 members of the Royal Canadian Artillery Band took over the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace for the first time in history. The mounting of the Queen’s Guard will continue until 3 July.
The Canadian troops are instantly recognizable by the distinctive French Grey color on the regimental facings of their full dress scarlet tunic, Diemaco/Colt Canada C7A2 carbines with green furniture and German-made Eickhorn bayonets, and traditional Canadian Wolseley Helmet.
The Wolsely, a cork helmet for hot climes issued to British West African and Chinese regiments, was adopted by the Canadians in 1911 for all units that didn’t already have assigned headgear. Founded 10 August 1914, the PPCLI fell into this classification. Some in the PPCLI also unofficially wore captured Italian pith helmets in Sicily in 1943.
The Pats were the first Canadian infantry unit to arrive in France during the Great War, fought again in the Second World War, Korea (again the first Canadians to arrive), Afghanistan as well as dozens of UN peacekeeping missions. The regiment has received 39 battle honors, three Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendations and the United States Presidential Unit Citation, the latter for the defense of the Kapyong Valley in 1951, which saved Seoul.
From the MoD:
The Queen’s Guard are soldiers charged with guarding the official royal residences in the UK. These include Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace, Windsor Castle, and the Tower of London.
Ceremonial duties are an important part of Army history and tradition both in the UK and in Canada. The soldiers participating in the public duties act as sentries during the day and night.
“It is an honour for the Canadian Army to provide soldiers to mount the guard for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We are pleased to play an important role in this long-standing Army tradition in the UK, especially as we in Canada mark Canada 150,” said Lt. Gen. Paul Wynnyk, Commander Canadian Army
In another first, Canadian Captain Megan Couto, 24, has been given the prestigious role of Captain of the Queen’s Guard, the first such tasking for a woman largely because restrictions on women in the British Armed Forces means none has been Captain of the Queen’s Guard.