Members of The Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal) cross the pond to visit their royal Colonel-in-Chief
By Members of The Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal)
London, United Kingdom — For over 60 years, the Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal) have gone without a Colonel-in-chief until 2014 when Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal stepped up.
King George VI had served in that capacity until his passing in 1952. With the subsequent amalgamation of the 6th Duke of Connaught Royal Canadian Hussars and the 17th Duke of York into the current regiment, the prospect of a replacement simply dropped below the radar.
In 2014, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal accepted the post, to the unit’s delight. Her first remarks to the commanding officer at that time were, “Sixty years was far too long to go without a colonel-in-chief.”
The Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal) was privileged to first meet The Princess Royal in November 2014 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. She also visited the Regimental home station in Montreal in February 2015, taking a good deal of time in speak with the soldiers.
However, Lieutenant-Colonel Shaun Funk, Commanding Officer, believed that it would serve to build on this unique relationship by requesting an audience with the Colonel-in-Chief in London, at St James’s Palace, to further the lines of communication.
St. James’s Palace contains the London residences of The Prince of Wales, The Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra. The palace also hosts many official events.
LCol Funk organized an audience with Her Royal Highness and the unit’s senior leadership departed for St James’s Palace in high spirits.
Honorary Colonel Bernard Ciarroni, Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel Marie-Claude Jarry, and Regimental Sergeant Major Charles O’Donnell accompanied the Commanding Officer. Dressed in blazers and white shirts with regimental ties, the group set off for their appointment, with summer being in full force, temperatures into the 30s and with high humidity.
“Mother Nature took great pride in roasting our team, while we tried to maintain our dignity and attire in the morning humidity,” noted LCol Funk.
Access to St James’s Palace is strictly controlled, but is also efficient.
“Upon arrival we were confirmed as approved and then ushered into the inner cordon. Two really low doorways and a short maze of narrow corridors and we were ushered into Her Royal Highness’s ante room. A quick eyeball check from Her Royal Highness’s private secretary and we were marched into the meeting,” recalled LCol Funk.
“The meeting lasted for 40 minutes and we were privileged to have both a focussed and far-ranging discussion with our Colonel-in-Chief,” he continued. “The details of the regiment, personnel deployed, equipment, evolution of the mounted troop, and the progression of the writing of the unit history topped the list.”
The Regiment’s senior leadership presented their Colonel-in-Chief with a beautiful commemorative plate bearing the Regiment’s unit identification and Latin motto “NON NOBIS SED PATRIAE” which means “Not for ourselves but for our country.”
“This meeting with our Colonel-in-Chief is a significant achievement for the unit in that it is a first, however, not the last.”
The Princess Royal is the official title of Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She is currently Colonel-in-Chief of at least six Canadian regiments (including the Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal)), the Communications and Electronics Branch, the Royal Canadian Medical Service, and is Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Navy (Fleet Pacific). She holds a number of similar military and other honorary titles throughout the Commonwealth.
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