By Royal Appointment: RBR soldiers to guard Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle
Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers are to guard Buckingham Palace and other Royal sites in the UK for the first time.
Six soldiers from the RBR will fly to London tomorrow and later join forces with the Royal Gibraltar Regiment for four weeks of public duties, which will also include mounting the guard at Windsor Castle and the Tower of London.
The island troops will fly to Gibraltar for extra training before they and the soldiers from the sister UK Overseas Territory return to the UK to start their duties – which attract crowds of thousands of tourists to Royal residences and the Tower to watch the ceremonial parades.
Corporal Carl Simmons-Albuoy, a member of the RBR’s B Company, said he put his name forward because it would be a “great experience”.
He added: “B Company is the company that does parades, so drill is our thing.”
Corporal Simmons-Albuoy, 26, from Southampton, said: “I’m a little bit nervous, but I think I’ll do just fine.”
Lance Corporal Kirk Wilks Jr, 22, from Devonshire, who has worked full-time on Covid-19 duties over the past year, added: “I’m really looking forward to it.
“It’s just a great opportunity and travel and have a new experience – we will be the first Bermudians to have mounted guard at Buckingham Palace, which is really great.”
Lance Corporal Wilks, one of two soldiers injured after a car hit them at a Covid-19 curfew checkpoint in Devonshire two years ago, said he had recovered well from a broken leg and other injuries and was up to the job.
But he confessed: “I don’t really like drill, but I don’t mind doing it. It’s part of being a soldier and I’m good at it.”
Private Daniel Wideman, 41, originally from Canada, was selected for the posting despite having only six months in an RBR uniform under his belt.
He said: “When the posting came up, it was open to privates, so I wanted to try for it.”
“The opportunity to go to London and be part of the Queen’s guard at Buckingham Palace is a wonderful thing. I feel very privileged.
Private Wideman added: “I didn’t expect anything like this when I joined the Regiment – but it’s great.”
Corporal Shannon Showers-Cassidy, 24, an apprentice electrician in civilian life, said: “The opportunity to represent my country was too good to resist.”
He admitted he had some nerves over the assignment but said he would “take it one step at a time – by the time we start, we will be very well trained”.
The other two soldiers on the trip are Corporal Orville Hall, 36, from Devonshire, a chef, originally from Jamaica; and Lance Corporal Azar Morrissey, 21, from Sandys, who works at Bermuda Air Conditioning and who started as a junior musician in the RBR Band and Corps of Drums.
The trip was made possible by the Bermuda Regiment Charitable Trust, which covered the cost of the trip so there will be no cost to the public purse.
Major George Jones (Retired), of the BRCT, said the trust was originally set up to sponsor cultural and musical exchanges.
He added: “This is in line with the trust’s original purpose – we’re lucky to be able to step up and give these young men this wonderful opportunity. I understand they’ve been working hard and they will do the battalion and Bermuda proud.”
RBR Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Ben Beasley, who has forged strong links with the RGR’s CO Lieutenant-Colonel Simon Dyson, said the partnership was in line with moves towards UK Overseas Territories’ Armed Forces working even more closely together in the future.
Colonel Beasley added: “The RBR and RGR already have a long history and we’ve trained together in the past.
“We started to talk ways of working together and the CO of the RGR said they had space to take a few of our soldiers to London.”
But Colonel Beasley said the RBR could not have afforded the trip on its own, and “even if we could, we probably wouldn’t have spent that money on conducting public duties outside of Bermuda”.
He added: “We’re very grateful to the Bermuda Regiment Trust, who very quickly said they would be pleased to support the cost of sending our soldiers.
“It’s an opportunity that’s never arisen before and, more than anything else, it’s a meaningful experience for our soldiers.”
He emphasised the troops, who will be on Royal duty in March and April, would be trained not only for the parade ground, but also as back up for the police in the event of a security threat.
Colonel Beasley said: “The RBR doesn’t just make soldiers, it makes memories and these are experiences that will not only promote the regiment internationally but give our soldiers memories that will last a lifetime.”