The Queen says goodbye
The Royal Green Jackets
The infantry regiment is merging with three others in just over three months’ time to form The Rifles, as part of a military shake-up.
The Queen is currently the Green Jackets’ Colonel-in-Chief, but the role will be taken on by the Duke of Edinburgh for The Rifles.
More than 550 past and present soldiers from the regiment gathered to say goodbye to the monarch at St James’s Palace.
Field Marshal, the Lord Bramall, the former Chief of Defence Staff, was there to pay his respects.
Lord Bramall, the most senior Green Jacket rifleman, said after meeting the Queen: “I said it was sad that she wasn’t going to be our Colonel-in-Chief and she said: ‘Yes it is sad after all these years’.”
He added: “These things happen in the army. Although there is sadness, there’s great optimism about the new regiment. They will draw on the heritage of all the regiments. It’s a new challenge.”
The Queen also met 17-year-old Kevin Williams, the youngest rifleman in the 1st Battalion Royal Green Jackets.
The teenager will fly out to Iraq the day after his 18th birthday.
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, based near Preston, Lancs, are being deployed to Basra at the end of the month, but Williams must wait until he turns 18 to join them.
“I’m more nervous about meeting the Queen than going to Basra,” he said.
He added that not everyone was pleased that the Green Jackets were leaving their title.
“A lot of people in my battalion don’t like the fact that we’re becoming The Rifles. I think the Green Jackets are a really special regiment and I would prefer them to remain Green Jackets.
“It’s got a lot of history and pride behind it. This regiment means a lot to me.”
The Royal Green Jackets was formed in 1966, but their origins date back as far as the Battle of Louisburg in 1758 and Waterloo and they were the first to wear green uniforms as camouflage, rather than red outfits.
They become The Rifles on February 1st in 2007, when they merge with The Light Infantry, Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry and the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry.
Also at the reception was BBC security correspondent, Frank Gardner, who was paralysed when ambushed by terrorists in Saudi Arabia, in his capacity as a former Territorial Army Green Jacket.
Article from the Mail on Line