Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Thursday, 15 May 2008

First Muslim Battalion Guards the Queen

120 soldiers of the Royal Malay Regiment have become the first all-Islamic Company to provide a British monarch's ceremonial guard. The following are excerpts from a report by Shell Daruwala.

LAND-2008-017-043.jpgAt Buckingham Palace on Friday 2 May 2008, red jackets and black bearskins were replaced by pristine white tunics, brocade 'sampins' and gold-banded 'songkoks', when the Malay Regiment changed guards with 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. The Regiment is visiting the UK to strengthen ties between Malaysia and the UK. Malaysia is only the fourth Commonwealth nation, after Canada, Australia and Jamaica, to be honoured in performing Public Duties in England.

Major Mohd Fuad bin Md Ghazali led his Company as the Malaysian Army's first Captain of the Guard at Buckingham Palace: "It is a great honour to be here guarding Her Majesty, who is the Head of the Commonwealth, and it is an expression of the close ties between our two countries."

RMR003The Royal Malay Regiment (RMR), or Rejimen Askar Melayu DiRaja, is the most senior in the Malaysian Army. The 1st Battalion (1 RMR) is the ceremonial battalion to their King and only draws recruits from the ethnic Malay population. Because the State religion of Malaysia is Islam, the elite soldiers of the 1st Battalion must all be practicing Muslims. 1 Battalion RMR is allied to the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Founded by British Commanding Officer, G McBruce in 1933, the Royal Malay Regiment began life as an Experimental Company of just 25 men, becoming the Malay Regiment, with a complement of 150 men on 1 January 1935. The Regiment now consists of 25 Battalions and has a distinguished record of service in the Second World War, The Malaysian Emergency in the 1950s and the Indonesian Confrontation in the 1960s. More recently, the Regiment's 19 (Mechanised) Battalion were involved in the rescue of downed American servicemen during The Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 – a story immortalised in the Hollywood film 'Black Hawk Down'.


The Regiment's own band accompanied the Guards onto parade. Wearing Malay dress uniform consisting of white tunics and trousers, gold and green brocade 'sampins' (a type of kilt or sarong), topped off with gold-banded, green velvet 'songkoks' (Islamic caps), the bandsmen played a selection of traditional Malaysian tunes to the delight of the gathered crowds.

Major Norhisham bin Kamar, of 1 RMR, said that this was a proud moment for the Regiment: "This is a very historical moment for us doing this job, and we will show the best to the audience here, as well as to the Queen.” He said that this was also a way to help break through religious tensions between the people of Islamic and non-Islamic nations: "Nowadays there is some difficulties between religion," he said. "Here we will show that Muslim countries can work together with non-Muslim countries. We came from a Colonial country - there's no problem with us – and can show how Muslim countries have no problem to work together with other people."

Welsh Guards Drill Sergeant, Warrant Officer Second Class Dorian Thomas, was one of the three British trainers who spent three weeks training the RMR in Malaysia, preparing them for their ceremonial duties in the UK. He said: "I've now trained many incremental Companies that have come across here, and their standard of drill to begin with was immaculate. All we really had to teach was the procedures, or the different procedures we use on our Guard Bands."

Following the ceremony, WO2 Thomas said that the Malaysians had been outstanding; the best visiting company he had ever seen. Another of the trainers was Warrant Officer Class 1 W D G Mott OBE, who is the Garrison Sergeant Major at London District and oversees all the Royal ceremonial parades taking place in London and the Home Counties: "I think it's lovely to have the Malay Regiment on guard now," he said. "They're on Queen's Guard. They've mounted. They're very professional. They've got a lovely attitude towards it.

“From the inception of this with the Chief of General Staff with the Chief of Army over in Malay, General Ismael, everything has been 'cooking on gas'. They've been positive all the way through – very professional as I say – and it's lovely to have them on board... The Malay Regiment are very professional men and they've come on board with an absolutely outstanding attitude. And that three weeks – you'd think they've been training for about six months." He said that Malaysians everywhere should take pride in the professionalism of their soldiers: "If we have Malay persons that live in this country, they should be proud and they should come into London to see them. Over in Malaysia they should be very, very proud of their countrymen that are over here on Royal Guards looking after Her Majesty, the Sovereign."



Viscount Feldon said...

I was surprised by this. I thought that guarding the Queen was a privilege only granted to units loyal to the Queen (i.e. from countries where she reigns as Queen)

Lachlan said...

this would definitely have been a great site to see.

does anybody know where i could get infomation an the Australian troops to guarded Her Majesty?

Stauffenberg said...

In answer to Lachlan, according to the "Queen's Guard" entry in the English Wikipedia, the most recent Australian troops performing public duties in London were as follows: 1st Bn Royal Australian Regiment in 1988; The Australian Federation Guard in 2000 (augmented by the Band of the Royal Military College, Duntroon).

Anonymous said...

The Islamic Republik of Britain

Jeff S. said...

What a PC move.

Stauffenberg said...

Only two comments of the expected type, so far. Had thought there might have been more. Good.

What, pray, is PC in having a unit as Queen's Guard from a country that save for British intervention would not exist at all?
What is PC in them paying their respects and being accorded due respect in London?
What is PC in a contingent that represents a shared history – irrespective of race or creed – and whose drill, insignia and band instrumentation are most evidently British in style (leaving asisde the dreadful sousaphones for the moment?

The Malysians are not the first guardians of Buckingham Palace with a non Home Counties Anglo-Catholic High Church background – among their forerunners was the Pakistan coronation contingent of 1953 (when Pakistan was a realm but decidedly and avowedly en route to a republic).

There are certainly governmental agendas behind such exercises in "multicultural" symbolism (and there IS a lively debate about the pros and cons in the Malaysian wing of the blogosphere). But notwithstanding all that it is simply good for attention to the wider Commonwealth. As such and in that context this slight whiff of the Durbars of the past should be welcome.

David Byers said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Byers said...

Did they frisk them for bombs first?

Matt said...

A fitting service. I am amused by their weapons, however. Nickel-plated M-16s? Very strange.

Anonymous said...

The Australian Army uses nickel plated SLRs for ceremonial drill!
I presume this dervies from the fact
a) they have abandoned 'normal' rifle drill in favour of having the in-service weapon slung on parade, and
b) they realise this looks stupid!

So they now have specific 'ceremonial' drill and weapons!