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It is with great sadness to hear of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen and we offer our sincere condolences to The Royal Family. We thank The Queen for her years of service to our country and as Colonel-in-Chief to The Royal Welsh.
Remembering Queen Elizabeth II
On September 3rd, 1939 war was declared when Princess Elizabeth was just 13 years old. Many children residing in London were evacuated which included Princess Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret, in an effort to protect the young from the dangers of bombing raids. The Princesses were sent to Windsor Castle. It was in this castle that Princess Elizabeth delivered her first address on October 13th, 1940 as part of the BBC Children’s Hour in an effort to boost public morale. Within this address, she spoke directly to the children who had been separated from their loved ones:
“Thousands of you in this country have had to leave your homes and be separated from your fathers and mothers. My sister Margaret Rose and I feel so much for you, as we know from experience what it means to be away from those you love most of all. To you living in new surroundings, we send a message of true sympathy and at the same time we would like to thank the kind people who have welcomed you to their homes in the country.”
As the war continued, Princess Elizabeth upheld more aspects of life in wartime and resilience. She was photographed in 1943 tending to the allotments in Windsor Castle as part of the campaign “Dig for Victory” whereby people were urged to use their land to grow crops to aid in combating food shortages.
Princess Elizabeth undertook her first inspection of a military regiment on the morning of her 16th birthday during a parade at Windsor Castle. As a symbolism of her military involvement in the war effort, she was given the role of honorary colonel of the Grenadier Guards.
Women were conscripted to join the war effort and women under 30 had to join the armed forces, work on the land or in industry. Princess Elizabeth was no different and at the age of 18, she enlisted in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) which was the women’s branch within the British Army. However, King George made sure that his daughter would not be given a special rank, and therefore began as a Second Subaltern. She was later promoted to Junior Commander (similar to a Captain). Due to her enlistment in the ATS, Princess Elizabeth was the first female of the royal family to be an active duty member of the British Armed Forces.
Colonel-in-Chief of The Royal Welsh
During her reign, Queen Elizabeth was Colonel-in-Chief of 16 British Army regiments, corps and many Commonwealth units. The position of Colonel-in-Chief of a regiment is its patron (usually royal) and does not have an operational role but rather serves as a direct link between the regiment and royal family. They are also informed of all important activities and pay occasional visits to the operational units. The Queen’s association with The Royal Welsh and its antecedent regiments dates back to her Coronation as she was Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Welch Fusiliers. When the Royal Welch Fusiliers (RWF) and The Royal Regiment of Wales (RRW) amalgamated in 2006 to form The Royal Welsh, the Queen became the Colonel-in-Chief.
As Sovereign, The Queen is Head of the Armed Forces, and is also the wife, mother and grandmother of individuals having served in the Forces.
“It is a tradition of very long standing that the Sovereign, and members of the Royal Family, are intimately associated with the Armed Forces and have been proud to serve in all three services.”
-A speech by The Queen at the Armed Forces Muster, 2012
Since her time with the ATS, Queen Elizabeth maintained a close relationship with the Armed Forces. The Royal Welch Fusiliers took part in the funeral of the late King George VI and subsequently in Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation parade on June 2nd 1953. Some of her activities with the regiment include:
- Her first inspection of the Regiment was as a Guard of Honour in Kingston, Jamaica (26 November 26th 1953) when a 250 strong detachment from the RWF was sent to the Caribbean to provide extra security for the Three-Powers Conference that was held in Bermuda a few days later.
- Presentation of new Colours to RWF on three occasions: Wroughton Airfield, Swindon (July 23rd 1954), Caernarfon Castle (November 7th 1975) and at Chepstow (May 22nd 1996).
- Her first visit to the newly formed Royal Welsh to present leeks at Lucknow Barracks, Tidworth on St David’s Day 2007.
- Her most recent visit was to present leeks to members of 1st Battalion Royal Welsh at Lucknow Barracks, Tidworth (March 3rd 2017).
We thank Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth for her service in her 70 year reign and Colonel-in-Chief to the Royal Welsh and its antecedent regiments. May she rest in peace.