RBR’s Royal guardsmen back after high-profile UK duties
A group of soldiers hand-picked to guard Royal sites in London said yesterday that their ten-week stint was the experience of a lifetime.
Corporal Orville Hall, one of six Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers attached to the Royal Gibraltar Regiment for ceremonial duties at sites such as Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, said the troops had risen to the occasion.
Corporal Hall, the senior RBR soldier among the group, was based at the Tower, a key tourist attraction.
He said: “Our soldiers were really great — we got there, we found out what we had to do and we made sure we got it done.
“The best part of it was being on guard seeing people’s reactions to the guards — they were fascinated by us.”
Corporal Hall, 37, from Devonshire, and a chef in civilian life, added that Bermudians in London had also made a point of visiting to see the soldiers, who returned home last week, on guard.
He said: “While on guard, I managed to see some faces from the Royal Bermuda Regiment in the crowds and while we were off duty, we interacted with the public.
“That was when we had the opportunity to explain who we were and people were fascinated by that too.”
Corporal Hall, a 12-year veteran of the RBR, explained that Tower duty, unlike Buckingham Palace, meant that people were inside a few feet of guards rather than at a distance.
He said: “Some days there were up to 5,000 people visiting the Tower — we could hear their reactions, but we couldn’t react, of course.”
Royal Gibraltar Regiment Lieutenant Mike Milward, 35, a full-time soldier, said: “From my point of view, the RBR soldiers integrated really well and everybody seems to have enjoyed it.”
Private Daniel Wideman, 42, of Paget, got the opportunity to travel to Britain after just six months in uniform.
He said he had stood guard at Buckingham Palace and at Windsor Castle while the Queen was in residence.
Private Wideman added: “It was a phenomenal experience — historically, culturally and from a personal standpoint, phenomenal, definitely.”
He said the highlight was parading at Windsor with the RGR as they were presented with new regimental colours by Prince Edward as the Queen watched.
Private Wideman added: “I got to talk to Prince Edward and I could the see the Queen watching the event from a covered area.”
He said the soldiers had a “packed schedule” with 48-hour duty periods which involved getting up at 4am and finishing late in the evening.
But Private Wideman added: “Being part of the guard at Buckingham Palace is amazing and it was an honour to represent Bermuda.”
He said: “We were very much made to feel part of the RGR and good to experience the life of a full-time soldier. We were made to feel very much part of their battalion.”
Lance Corporal Azar Morrissey, 22, from Sandys, added: “The Gibraltarians were very nice people — like Bermudians, they’re friendly, so it was easy to connect with them.”
He said Tower of London duty meant soldiers could mingle with the crowds after they stood down from duty.
Lance Corporal Morrissey added: “People could take pictures of us and talk to us. They didn’t know Bermudians were on duty there, but we spoke to them, they heard our different accents and we were able to give some insight into Bermuda and why we were in the ranks of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.”
He said: “The Gibraltarians were fantastic. We made lifelong friends for sure and they said they would love to have us back.”
Lance Corporal Morrissey added that the highlight of the tour was guarding Windsor Castle in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year and while she was in residence.
He explained: “At the Tower of London, you’re guarding the Queen’s jewels. At Windsor, we were guarding the Queen.
“If you got lucky, sometimes when you were marching you could see her looking out of the windows at us.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Ben Beasley, the RBR’s Commanding Officer, said it was the first time the RBR had been involved in London public duties.
He said the invitation came through links forged decades ago by former CO Lieutenant-Colonel David Gibbons, now the Honorary Colonel of the RBR, with the then-CO of the RGR.
Colonel Beasley, who visited the troops while in London for a conference of British Overseas Territories defence forces commanding officers, added: “You never know what the future holds when you join the RBR — for those six soldiers it was this. It was certainly hard work, but they really pushed through.
“Many Bermudians were in London at that time and saw them performing to the highest standards expected of any of Her Majesty’s regiments.
“The entire country should be very proud of their performance.”
Colonel Beasley highlighted that the cost of the detachment was covered by the Bermuda Regiment Trust, a charitable foundation.
He said: “The board of the trust approved the significant amount to cover the cost of these duties and we’re very grateful to them.
“These soldiers will now go back to their companies with this experience, which will encourage others to excel as well.”
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