Royal Navy declared ready to mount historic first public duties

Royal Navy sailors have today been declared ready for the task of performing ceremonial royal duties in London for the first time ever this weekend.

Eighty-six sailors from 45 Royal Navy ships and shore establishments have learned the intricate routines and drill movements needed for royal duties at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, Windsor Castle and the Tower of London.

They have spent the past month training at the Royal Navy’s headquarters in Portsmouth, beating the parade ground as well as by providing the ceremonial guard for Remembrance Sunday in London.

Royal Navy ceremonial instructors have been supplemented in the latter stages by drill instructors from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, who have been impressed by the Royal Navy’s agility on the parade square.

Colour Sergeant Elliott Fox, of the Coldstream Guards, said: “The training has gone well. Everyone’s applied themselves to a really high standard. The Royal Navy ceremonial instructors have put a lot of effort into making our job relatively easy.”

After training in Portsmouth, the sailors, submariners and naval airmen have now moved to Wellington Barracks in London, where they will mount their first Changing of the Guard under the close scrutiny of the Guards Division HQ.

It’s great to do this ceremonial piece and have the Royal Navy in the public eye in this way

Lieutenant Commander Steve Elliott, who will be the Captain of the Queen’s Guard

The first Changing of the Guard will take place on Sunday 26 November 2017 at Buckingham Palace. Then on Monday 27 November 2017 they will also mount guard for the first time at Windsor Castle.

Warrant Officer 1st Class Eddie Wearing, the Royal Navy’s state ceremonial training officer, said: “It’s daunting, but I’m very excited. To be the conducting Warrant Officer for the first mount ever in the Royal Navy is a massive privilege and an honour to do. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Each period of guard duty lasts for two days, with each new guard assembling at the Wellington Barracks parade square before marching with the Royal Marines Band out to meet their ceremonial duties.

Leading them throughout will be Lieutenant Commander Steve Elliott, from Portsmouth, who will be the Captain of the Queen’s Guard. It is believed he will be the first person in the Royal Navy to assume the role since Sir Walter Raleigh in 1587.

“As we march out of Wellington Barracks for the first time I’m fairly sure everyone will feel an enormous sense of pride,” said Lt Cdr Elliott, who is undertaking the role before he deploys on operations to Somalia in January.

“It’s great to do this ceremonial piece and have the Royal Navy in the public eye in this way.”

The ceremony of the Changing of the Guard can be traced back to Henry VII, when a royal bodyguard was created. Guards regiments were formed to protect King Charles II in 1656.